The beef trade appears to have settled this week, with farmers reporting little change to price deals on offer.
Prime cattle are an easy sell and factory agents remain keen to lock in supplies. Base quotes continue to climb, closing the gap to the prices on offer for stock.
Some plants have added 4p/kg to base quotes, with most processors working off 374p/kg for U-3 grading animals, although starting prices are realistically 380p/kg.
Farmers selling prime cattle report that the majority in-spec animals are moving off farm at 392p to 396p/kg.
At the upper end of the market, there have been reports of 398p/kg to 400p/kg being offered to regular finishers with bigger numbers of prime animals.
Supplies of young bulls are also starting to increase and this is helping factory agents to source numbers and fill orders.
finished cattle prices for the same week last year averaged 324p/kg for U grading steers, with heifers on 329p/kg
Price deals on offer for good-quality in-spec suckler-bred bulls are broadly similar to prices for steers around 388p to 394p/kg.
Last week, the average price paid across all grades of steers and heifers was 382.47p/kg, a rise of 3.3p/kg on the previous week.
On steers, U3 grading animals rose by 4.3p to 394.7p/kg, with heifers at the same grade up 6p to 395.9p/kg. Young bulls averaged 381.7p/kg for U grading animals.
Finished cattle prices for the same week last year averaged 324p/kg for U grading steers, with heifers on 329p/kg.
Imports of Irish cattle for slaughter at local plants increased by 151 head to 541, of which 425 were prime cattle
At the outlined differential, a 350kg carcase is currently worth £230 more than the corresponding period last year.
Factory throughput totalled 8,281 head last week, of which 6,326 were prime cattle with 1,775 cows processed.
Imports of Irish cattle for slaughter at local plants increased by 151 head to 541, of which 425 were prime cattle.
Demand for cull cows remains firm, with more plants working from a base of 290p/kg for R3 animals.
However, farmers continue to report 310p to 320p/kg on offer for regular finishers.
NI sheep trade – Lamb and hogget trade easing
After the extremely strong period of prices for hoggets and spring lambs, the trade is starting to ease. Processors have pulled quotes to 670p/kg for lambs, with a base of 630p/kg for hoggets.
In Kilrea, lambs made 664p to 685p/kg, down 10p/kg on last week. Lambs at 22kg made £147.50, with the best 21kg lots on £142.50.
In Massereene, lambs sold from 630p to 673p/kg, also down 10p/kg on last week. Hoggets ranged from 530p to 580p/kg, down 40p/kg on last week.
In Saintfield, lambs sold from 625p to 700p/kg, down 27p/kg for the heaviest lots.
Top price was £155 for 26kg, with 22kg and 23kg making £140 to £147.
Hoggets sold from 530p to 600p/kg, down 13p/kg for the heaviest sorts. Top price was £150 for 27kg, with 23kg to 25kg making £130 to £140.
In Rathfriland, the trade was also back and 250 lambs made 609p to 642p/kg, with the sale average of 636p/kg, down 59p/kg on last week. Hoggets averaged 544p/kg.
The trade in fat ewes is also easing. In Kilrea, top was £157 and in Massereene, it was £165. In Saintfield, the top was £167 and in Rathfriland, it was £164.