Local processing plants are sending out mixed signals to farmers with regards to pricing on finished cattle.

Factories continue with their efforts to talk the beef trade down and some plants indicate they intend cutting base price.

However, farmers report the same plants looking to pull quotes were scrambling for numbers over the weekend and early part of this week.

Regular finishers indicate factory agents have been in regular contact, requesting additional numbers to be supplied this week.

Furthermore, several farmers looking to book cattle for next week were asked if these animals could be delivered before the end of this week.

Irish cattle imported to NI for direct slaughter last week rose by 257 head to 638, the highest figure this year and again reflects tighter supplies.

While there is no doubt the beef trade has slowed and sales of steak cuts are harder to shift, the UK market as a whole remains strong.

This is evident from price deals still being offered to farmers. While base quotes remain on 430p to 434p/kg, this is roughly 20p/kg below the actual prices being paid.

Steers continue to open at 448p to 450p/kg for farmers with smaller numbers, but regular sellers report deals of 452p and 454p/kg for bigger numbers.

Heifers are moving at similar levels, while young bulls are being priced around 446p to 448p/kg for suckler-bred animals meeting carcase weight limits.

Last week, the average price paid across all grades of steers and heifers was down 0.5p at 437.3p/kg. However, U3 steers and heifers continue to edge upwards. U3 steers rose by 1.8p/kg to average 455.4p/kg, with heifers up 2.2p/kg to average 454.2p/kg. In contrast, young bulls eased by 1.2p to 444.4p/kg.


The cow trade remains extremely buoyant and despite quotes holding on 370p/kg for R3 animals, deals for good-quality suckler types remain at 400p to 410p/kg, with prices averaging 406.8p/kg last week.

NI sheep: lamb prices bounce back

After a slow start to the week, fat lamb prices have recovered from last week’s cuts.

By midweek, prices were up £10 to £15/head at £130 to £138 in the live ring.

Factories have been slow to react, trying to stick at quotes of 600p/kg, down 30p/kg on last week. However, the reality is that by midweek, deals of 630p/kg have been paid to stop farmers offloading in the live ring.

In Kilrea, 450 lambs sold from 570p to 602p/kg, down by 25p/kg on last week. Lambs at 21kg made £126.50 (602p/kg), with 20kg making £116.50 (583p/kg) and 22.5kg making £131 (582p/kg). Heavy lambs at 27kg made £135.

In Massereene, 462 lambs sold from 550p to 583p/kg, down 18p to 32p/kg on last week. The 583p/kg was paid for 24kg at £140 and 574p/kg for 23kg at £132. Heavy lambs at 24kg to 26kg made £136 to £140.

In Saintfield, 748 lambs sold from 548p/kg to 600p/kg, down 27p/kg on last week. The top price was £148 for 29kg and £135 for 25kg, with £128 to £134 for 23kg to 25kg. Lambs at 21kg sold to £126.

In Rathfriland, 703 lambs sold in the range 530p/kg to 570p/kg, with the sale average of 543p/kg down 32p/kg on last week.

In Ballymena on Wednesday morning, the trade was extremely strong, with 25.5kg at £138, 24.5kg at £137, 25kg at £136 and 22.5kg at £134.50.


The trade in fat ewes is easier this week. In Kilrea, top price was £170. In Massereene, top was £170 for Texels, £147 for Blue Leicesters, £140 for Suffolks and Charollais and £130 for Dorsets.

In Saintfield, the top prices were £200, £180 and £170 with others making from £135 to £150. In Rathfriland the top was £212.

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