Factory prices paid on prime cattle remain on a firm, but steady footing, with most farmers reporting 402p to 406p/kg buying the majority of animals.

Finished cattle have more or less held at the outlined price range since late June, with little deviation above or below this level.

Supplies of finished cattle are broadly in line with processing demand. As such, factories have left base quotes unchanged again this week.

This keeps U-3 grading animals on 392p to 394p/kg at the upper end of quotes, although some plants continue to work from an official base of 384p/kg.

Last week, the cattle kill in Northern Ireland totalled 8,847 head, of which 6,567 were prime animals, while cull cows totalled 2,097.

Staffing issues on kill lines and boning halls continue to be a major issue for processors.

To maintain cattle throughput, some plants are prioritising processing cattle over sheep, while other factories are spreading their kill over a longer working week.

Imports of Irish cattle for processing at local plants totalled 614 head last week, the second highest weekly import figure this year.

Prime cattle imported from the Republic of Ireland stands at 10,903 for the current year, an increase of 569 over the same period in 2020.

For the first time in three weeks, there were cattle exported from NI to slaughter plants in Britain, with 41 animals being shipped across the Irish Sea.

Prices paid on steers and heifers eased by 1.5p/kg to an average 392.56p/kg across all conformation grades last week.

Steers rose by 0.6p to 403.3p/kg for U3 grading animals, while heifers at the same grade were more or less unchanged on 404.4p/kg.


Demand for cull cows is also firm, with base quotes holding on 312p/kg for R3 animals, while O+3 cows are on 302p/kg.

Deals for good-quality suckler types range from 330p to 340p/kg, with some reports of 350p/kg paid at the top of the market.

NI sheep: farmers resisting price cuts

There were strong shows of fat lambs in marts this week. While prices eased on Monday, they recovered on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, as farmers resisted selling at lower prices.

Factory quotes have eased, with 475p and 480p/kg, making lambs worth £100.80 at the 21kg carcase weight limit.

In Kilrea, 650 lambs made 418p to 479p/kg, down 14p/kg on the week.

Massereene sold 956 lambs from 415p to 440p/kg, down 15p/kg on last week. Heavy lambs at 31kg made £110, with 25kg and 26kg making £100 to £106, while 22kg made £92.50.

In Saintfield, 555 lambs made 420p to 525p/kg, no change for the main run of lambs.

Prices reached £117 and £113 for 30kg lambs, 24kg made £104, 23kg to £99 and 22kg to £95.50. Store lambs were a great trade, with 20kg at £92 and 18kg to £89.

In Rathfriland, demand was stronger and prices averaged 460p/kg, up 10p/kg on last week. Lambs at 25kg made £108, with store lambs at 16kg making £85.

In Ballymena on Wednesday, the trade was also firmer. Lambs at 25kg made £103, 23.5kg made £101 and 22kg made £96.


Prices for fat ewes has steadied this week. In Massereene, Texel ewes topped out at £120, with Suffolks to £110, Mules at £100 and Blackface at £68.

In Saintfield, the top price was £174 with the main run from £100 to £145.

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