There are positive signs emerging throughout the beef trade this week, as prices for prime cattle and cull cows continue to edge upwards.

Numbers are tight and factory agents are very proactive in contacting farmers, as well as becoming increasingly more reliant on feedlot operators.

The live ring continues to underpin the trade, providing a valuable outlet to farmers handling smaller numbers and finding it more difficult to negotiate for higher prices.

Mart managers continue to report prices of 290p to 310p/kg being paid for good-quality finished cattle, with specialist finishers and factory agents in direct competition.

Processors have left official base quotes unchanged at 470p/kg this week for U-3 grading animals. However, as has been the case throughout the spring, this falls well short of what is being paid.

Farmers indicate 490p/kg is widely available as a starting price on in-spec animals with steers making 2p/kg to 4p/kg more.

Where farmers can offer a steady supply of heifers, deals of 496p/kg have been reported. There is also a multitude of deals that include free transport in lieu of higher prices, as well as agreements that waive out-of-spec penalties.

Deals on young bulls start at 480p/kg and rise to 490p/kg where bigger numbers can be supplied. Several farmers indicate factory agents are in regular contact to enquire about stock and cattle are frequently moving to slaughter within 24 hours of booking.

Last week, the average price paid on cattle across all grades increased by just over 4p/kg to 477.1p/kg. On U3 steers, prices increased by 4.5p/kg to 491.9p/kg, while heifers at the same grade rose by 6p/kg to 493.3p/kg.


Sales of manufacturing beef remain strong and are underpinning processing demand for cull cows. Factory quotes for R3 animals sit on 390p/kg, but should be ignored, as 410p/kg is a more realistic opening price for such animals. Last week, prices paid on R3 averaged 410.5p/kg.

NI sheep: hogget trade moves up a gear

Sharp competition in the live ring is fuelling higher prices in the hogget trade, pushing factory quotes up 5p/kg to 565p/kg.

However, deals are widely available at 580p/kg to keep pace with the live ring, making hoggets worth £127.60 at the 22kg weight limit.

Gortin had an exceptional trade, with hoggets at 25kg selling to £134, with a big run from £126 to £132 for 24kg and upwards. Hoggets at 22kg made to £119.50, with stores from £102 to £112.

Kilrea sold 750 hoggets from 510p to 554p/kg, up 16p to 27p/kg on last week. Hoggets at 24kg made £133, 23kg to £125.50 and 19.5kg at £106.

Markethill had a big sale, with 1,160 hoggets making 500p to 530p/kg, little change on last week.

Saintfield sold 605 hoggets from 500p to 540p/kg, up 5p to 10p/kg. Heavy Texels at 40kg made £141, 26kg to £132 and a big run from £128 to £131. The best Texels at 20kg made £110.

In Rathfriland, 400 hoggets sold from 497p to 525p/kg, with the sale average of 509p/kg up 6p/kg on last week.

The first show of spring lambs made 526p to 595p/kg for 18 animals.

There was a strong trade in Ballymena, with heavy hoggets at 30kg to £135.50, 27.5kg to £136, 24.5kg to £127 and 21kg to £110.


The market for fat ewes has strengthened, with prices in Gortin topping £212 and the main run from £130 to £204.

Kilrea topped out at £191, with ewes in Markethill to £184. In Saintfield, Texels sold to £204, with the main run from £140 to £198. In Rathfriland, top was £216.

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Sheep price update: spring lamb prices open at €7.50/kg to €7.70/kg

Beef prices: quotes steady as finished cattle supplies tighten