Beef prices remain relatively steady, although there are fewer reports of animals commanding prices at the upper end of the 380p/kg price range.
Base prices continue to ease, with quotes on prime cattle at U-3 conformation ranging from 362p to 370p/kg.
However, most indications are that farmers continue to be quoted well ahead of this level for in-spec animals.
Most farmers offloading cattle report that prices are holding reasonably firm around 380p to 384p/kg for prime steers, with heifers moving at similar levels for in-spec animals. Butcher-type heifers are moving for 2p to 4p/kg more for regular finishers with bigger numbers to offload.
Angus cattle, dairy-bred types with lower conformation and animals exceeding carcase weight limits are being priced accordingly at the outlined base quotes.
Last week, the average price paid across all grades of steers and heifers averaged 373.15p/kg, down 3.45p/kg on the week.
With the beef trade south of the border coming under significant price pressure in recent weeks, Irish cattle prices have slumped
For U3 grading steers, prices fell by 3.5p/l to an average of 384.2p/kg, while U3 grading heifers slipped by a similar amount to average 387p/kg. Prices for U3 grading bulls slipped by more than 6p/kg to average 367.9p/kg.
Imports of Irish cattle for direct slaughter at local plants recorded a sharp increase to 353 head, the highest weekly import figure for the year to date. Within this figure, 282 cattle were prime animals, with the remaining 71 being cows.
With the beef trade south of the border coming under significant price pressure in recent weeks, Irish cattle prices have slumped, making imported slaughter animals more attractive to some local processors. Last week, the NI cattle kill totalled 8,898 head, of which prime animals accounted for 6,839, the second-highest figure for the year to date.
Processing demand for cull cows is steady, with quotes for R3 grading animals holding at 275p/kg, while O+3 cows are on 265p/kg.
But price deals for good cows continue to sit around the 300p/kg mark.
Supplies of finished hoggets are scarce and marts have seen numbers dropping off.
Smaller shows have increased prices by as much as 30p/kg, leaving factories with little option but to raise prices. Quotes are up 25p to 565p/kg, making hoggets worth £124.30 at the 22kg weight limit.
In Kilrea, a super trade saw prices from 530p to 605p/kg, up 30p/kg on the week. Hoggets at 26kg made £137, 25kg to £133.50, 23.5kg at £127.50 and 22kg made £130.50. Spring lambs at 23.5kg made £133.50.
In Massereene, prices ranged from 520p to 543p/kg, up 20p/kg. Hoggets at 26kg made £132, 25kg at £134, 23kg at £124 and 20kg at £105.
In Saintfield, prices ranged from 500p to 550p/kg, up 20p/kg on the week. Top price was £132 for 26kg, £127 for 24kg and £120 for 22kg.
In Rathfriland, prices ranged from 500p to 550p/kg with a sale average of 518p/kg, up 5p/kg on last week.
The trade for fat ewes remains strong, with Kilrea selling to £133 and Massereene to £125. In Saintfield, ewes topped £140, with a big run from £112 to £133. In Rathfriland, top price was £187.