The beef trade has steadied following concerted efforts from processors to reduce prices for prime cattle and cull cows.

While prices are back in the mid-440p/kg range, the cuts have not resulted in farmers panic selling and flushing cattle on to the market.

Reports indicate supplies of prime cattle remain tight and, as such, one plant has raised its base quote to 430p/kg for animals at U-3 conformation.

Other plants are holding firm, keeping quotes on 414p to 424p/kg for animals at the same grade. Most reports put steers on 442p/kg.

There is 2p to 4p/kg more for regular finishers in return for a steady flow of cattle coming on the market this month.

Heifers are faring better, with deals generally between 444p and 448p/kg for in-spec animals and the higher prices are easier to secure where bigger numbers can be offered.

Young bulls continue to move from a base of 436p/kg, although some deals are in line with steer prices for bulls meeting a tight carcase weight specification.

Cattle falling outside of the retail specification on carcase weight and conformation are a harder sell and unless farmers can supply big numbers, there is little room to negotiate for higher prices.

The live ring continues to underpin the trade, with specialist finishers remaining active for short-keep cattle of all types.

Mart managers indicate that following the downturn in prices, there has been a marked increase in throughput from farmers who have limited bargaining power with factory agents.

Last week, the average price paid across cattle of all conformation eased by 2p to 427.78p/kg. On U3 cattle, steers marginally increased by 0.4p to 441.4p/kg, while heifers rose by 1.4p to 446.2p/kg.


Competition for cull cows remains extremely strong, despite an increase in dairy cows coming on the market. Quotes have edged up 5p, with 375p/kg on offer for R3 animals, although deals continue to range from 390p to 400p/kg.

NI sheep: processors slash lamb prices

Processors have been ruthless in pulling lamb prices this week, with quotes down 30p to 35p/kg at 495p and 500p/kg.

This makes a lamb worth £103.95 and £105 at the 21kg weight limit. There is no big rush of lambs in the marts, but prices paid are down by 50p/kg.

In Kilrea, 400 lambs sold from 435p to 475p/kg, down 50p/kg on last week. The 475p/kg was for 20kg at £95, with 472p/kg paid for 23.5kg at £111 and 464p/kg for 22kg at £102.

In Massereene, 764 lambs sold from 430p to 465p/kg. Lambs at 23kg made £107, with 21kg from £91 to £93.50. Lambs at 24kg made £105 and £106, with 22kg at £95 and £96.

In Saintfield, 760 lambs sold from 435p to 500p/kg, down 25p/kg for lighter lots. Top price was £114.50 for 27kg, with £113 for 25kg. Lambs at 24kg sold to £105 with 22kg to £102. Lambs at 21kg sold to £99.50 with 20kg to £95.

Rathfriland sold 791 lambs from 430p to 502p/kg, averaging 450p/kg, which was down 30p/kg on the week.

At Ballymena, Wednesday, early lots were a firmer trade. A pen at 26.5kg made £117.50, with 24kg making £109, up by £4 on last week. Lambs at 22kg made £100, with 21.5kg making £98 and £100. Lambs at 21kg made to £95.


The trade in fat ewes has cooled this week. In Kilrea, top price was £148. In Massereene, top was £120 for Texels and Suffolks, with Mules at £90.

In Saintfield, the top price was £200 for a ram, with ewes selling to £164 and others making from £105 to £160. In Rathfriland, the top was £165.

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