Processing demand for finished cattle remains strong and prices continue at similar levels to previous weeks.
Base quotes are unchanged, which keeps U-3 grading cattle on 392p/kg to 394p/kg at the upper end of the quote range, although some plants remain on a base of 384p/kg.
Prices for prime cattle meeting conformation and carcase weight specifications for the UK retail market are holding steady.
Steers are opening on 400p/kg, with deals of 404p/kg to 406p/kg on offer for regular finishers. Heifers are also moving off farm from 404p/kg, with deals of 410p/kg on offer for regular finishers.
At the upper end of the market, butcher-type heifers are moving above the 410p/kg mark.
Young bulls which are in-spec are moving around the 400p/kg mark, although there are bonuses on offer for animals below certain weight limits.
There have been reports of processors becoming much tighter on cattle exceeding carcase weight limits over 420kg.
Along with penalties, these cattle are being bought much closer to base quotes.
Demand for Angus cattle appears to be growing, with several farmers reporting that factory agents are in regular contact about the availability of supplies coming forward.
Mart managers south of the border continue to report a strong ringside presence from northern clients, with heavy cattle and fat cows highly sought after.
Imports of Irish cattle for direct slaughter at local plants rose by 29 head to 564 last week, of which 455 were prime animals, the second-highest weekly import figure for the year to date.
For the second week in a row, there were no cattle shipped from NI to slaughter plants in Britain.
The trade for cull cows remains extremely firm, with no movement on base quotes. This keeps R3 cows on a base of 312p/kg while O+3 cows are on 302p/kg.
Prices continue to run well ahead of base quotes, with good-quality suckler-bred animals making 330p to 340p/kg.
NI sheep: Fat lambs in demand
The live trade for fat lambs continues to improve, with prices up £2 to £4. In the plants, base quotes have increased to 490p/kg making a lamb worth £102.90 at the 21kg deadweight limit.
In Kilrea, 560 lambs sold from 438p to 502p/kg, up 10p/kg for the main run of lambs.
Massereene sold 1,026 lambs from 435p to 474p/kg, up 5p to 12p/kg. Top price per kilo saw 23kg make £109, 20.5kg making £96 and 22.5kg making £105. Heavy lambs at 25kg made £110, with a big run from £105 to £109.
Saintfield sold 790 lambs from 430p to 485p/kg, up 5p to 20p/kg. Prices paid reached £110 for 25kg. Lambs at 24kg made £107, 23kg to £105.50 and 22kg to £102. Store lambs at 19kg made £90 with 18kg to £87 and 17.5kg at £84.50.
In Ballymena, 26kg lambs made £109, 24kg to 25.5kg making £106, 21.5kg made £96.50 with 20.5kg at £90.
Fat ewes are holding firm. The top price in Massereene saw Texels make £150. Charollais sold to £142, Mules to £115 and Blackface to £66. In Saintfield, top was £150 with the main run from £110 to £140.