Beef prices on prime cattle are holding firm, as processors try to maintain throughput despite the challenges with staff shortages.

Some plants have reduced their lamb kill in order to prioritise cattle processing, as sales of beef remain extremely strong across the UK.

Supplies of finished cattle are closely aligned to processing demand and this is also helping to keep prices steady.

Base quotes are holding at 394p/kg for U-3 grading animals, although some plants are working to an official quote of 386p/kg. The lower quote is geared at curtailing the price of Angus cattle when the bonus payment is applied on top of base quotes.

Most reports indicate little change to price deals, with plants generally opening on 400p/kg. There are cattle moving at this level, but most farmers offloading animals indicate 402p to 404p/kg is being paid for steers, with 406p/kg on offer for prime heifers.

Cattle that exceed carcase weight limits are being purchased for around 394p/kg, as are young bulls.

Farmers struggling to negotiate on price continue to offload slaughter-fit animals through the live ring where U grading animals continue to make 240p to 250p/kg.

Last week, the average price paid across all grades of steers and heifers rose by 3.4p/kg to an average 394.06p/kg.

For U3 grading animals, steers eased by 0.6p to 402.7p/kg, while heifers slipped 0.9p to 404.5p/kg and young bulls on 393.2p/kg.

Imports of Irish cattle for direct slaughter at local processing plants totalled 392 head, of which 221 were prime animals and 171 were cows. For the second week in a row, there were no cattle moving from NI to slaughter plants in Britain.


The cull cow trade has steadied, as more animals from the dairy herd come on to the market.

Quotes on R3 cows remain on 312p/kg, with O+3 animals on 302p/kg.

Deals for good cows continue to start at 330p/kg, with deals over 340p/kg on offer for quality lots.

NI sheep trade: mart trade easing with bigger shows

There were strong shows of lambs in the marts this week and the trade eased by £2 to £4 per head.

Some factories have moved to pull quotes back to 480p/kg, while others are holding on a base of 495p/kg, making a lamb worth £103.95 at the 21kg carcase limit.

In Kilrea, 900 lambs sold from 432p to 468p/kg, down 16p/kg for the main run.

Massereene sold 837 lambs from 430p to 465p/kg, down £2 on last week. Top prices for 23kg was £105 to £107, with 22kg making £100. Heavy lambs at 29kg made £114, with a big run from £105 to £109.

In Saintfield, 722 lambs made 420p to 488p/kg, down 20p/kg on last week. Prices paid reached £113 and £110 for 30kg and 28kg. Lambs at 25kg made £106, 23kg to £100 and 22kg to £97. Store lambs at 18kg made £88.

In Rathfriland, a big show averaged 450p/kg, down 8p/kg on last week. Lambs at 24kg made £103. Store lambs were very expensive, with 10kg at £60, 16kg at £65 and 18kg at £93.


The trade in fat ewes has cooled, with quality being more variable. In Massereene, a Texel was top at £120, with Mules at £100 and Blackface at £71. In Saintfield, the top prices were £173 and £168, with the main run from £105 to £155. The top in Rathfriland was £131.

Read more

Thrive weekly roundup: tasks for next week on dairy-beef farms