There is something of a two-tier pricing mechanism within the beef trade this week. Prime steers and heifers are still highly sought after and prices are on par with last week.

On the other hand, farmers with young bulls to offload are facing a much more challenging market when it comes to demand and pricing.

Reports indicate some factory agents are trying to press home their advantage when negotiating with farmers who have bulls coming up on the 16-month age limit.

In other instances, where the age limit is not an issue, farmers are encountering delays of two to three weeks before bulls can be processed.

The net result with any delay in slaughter is the added costs incurred by continuing to feed such animals, as well as bulls exceeding carcase weight limits, thereby devaluing the animal.

Several reports indicate efforts to pull bulls by 4p/kg again this week, with the aim to buy more animals between 484p and 486p/kg.

However, there are farmers with bigger numbers to offer who managed to secure prices at 490p and 492p/kg, provided certain weight limits and conformation grades are met.

Moving to steers and heifers, most indications put steers on 496p/kg, with 498p/kg widely available. Heifers are also moving at 498p/kg, keeping prime cattle well above base quotes of 472p/kg for U-3 grading animals.

There are still deals being agreed at 500p/kg, but they are less common compared with recent weeks and generally reserved for farmers handling bigger numbers.

Last week, the average price paid across steers and heifers of all grades fell 2.7p to 483.31p/kg. For U3 animals, steers eased by 2p/kg to average 498.3p/kg, with heifers falling 2.1p/kg to 498.8p/kg and bulls dropping to 485.2p/kg.


Base quotes remain on 390p/kg for R3 animals, but as has been the case throughput spring, this bears no resemblance to what is on offer. Good-quality cows continue to make 415p to 420p/kg.

NI sheep: mart trade sees uplift in lamb price

Factories are trying to pull base quotes, but such moves are not getting any traction, as prices in the live ring are rising, with buying agents now sourcing sheep for the Eid Al-Adha festival in late June.

Quotes of 650p/kg make lambs worth £136.50 at the 21kg limit, but prices in the live ring are easily running £5 above this level.

There was a strong trade in Gortin, with lambs at 26kg making £156, 23.5kg making £149 and 20.5kg selling from £129 to £146.

In Kilrea, 300 lambs made 620p to 650p/kg, up 20p for heavier lots. Markethill sold 600 lambs from 600p to 633p/kg, down 10p/kg for heavier lots. Good-quality lambs at 21kg made £133, 23kg to £145 and 24.5kg to £144.

In Saintfield, 535 lambs made 595p to 640p/kg, no change on last week. At Rathfriland, 300 lambs made 600p to 634p/kg, with the sale averaging 621p/kg, up 16p/kg on last week.

In Ballymena, early lots were a sharp trade. Lambs at 25kg made £150, 24.5kg to £149, 24kg made £145 and 23kg to £149. Lighter lambs at 22.5kg made £146.50 with 22kg to £142.


The trade for fat ewes eased this week, but there was a noticeable drop in quality on offer.

Gortin sold ewes from £224 to a top of £280. In Kilrea, top was £178 and in Markethill, 230 ewes sold to £192. In Saintfield, top was £194 and in Rathfriland, ewes made £172.

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