There is much more life in the beef trade this week as processors react to tighter supplies and a rampant market in Britain.

Processing demand is running well ahead of supplies, putting farmers in the driving seat when negotiating on price.

With factories hungry for stock, farmers report they are being contacted by cattle agents working for different plants and a range of price deals are on offer.

Base quotes are unchanged on 374p/kg for U-3 grading animals, but this is well below what is being offered to farmers. Deals of 384p/kg to 386p/kg still being paid for in-spec animals.

However, there are price reports from regular sellers indicating 390p/kg is more widely available on steers and heifers, with some deals being made at 394p/kg for bigger numbers of prime cattle.

Last week, the average price paid across all grades of steers and heifers rose by 2.2p to 373.89p/kg. On U3 steers, the average price also rose by 2.2p to 384.1p/kg, with U3 heifers up 4.4p to 387.6p/kg.

Prices in Britain are currently surging ahead of those in Northern Ireland having been at a similar level since last spring.

Base prices in Britain are on 410p to 415p/kg for R4L animals, with U grading cattle being paid 420p to 430p/kg as processing demand continues to grow.

In the Republic of Ireland, prices are slowly edging upwards, but are ultimately 70p to 80p/kg short of the current NI trade.

This is fueling a rise in the number of Irish cattle being imported into NI for direct slaughter.

Last week, 553 Irish cattle moved north for processing at local plants, the highest weekly import figure since early October.


Buying demand for cull cows is also rising as numbers are extremely limited. Quotes are up 10p/kg, with 280p to 290p/kg on offer for O+3 and R3 animals. However, farmers are being offered 310p to 320p/kg for good-quality suckler lots.

NI sheep trade: factory trade steadies for hoggets and lambs

Prices for fat hoggets are relatively steady, although factory quotes have eased to 610p and 600p/kg at the 22kg weight limit. One plant is paying to 23kg, worth an extra £6/head.

Spring lambs are a strong trade in the marts, with 700p/kg on offer and 800p/kg for top-quality butcher-type animals. Factory quotes open at 660p/kg, but 700p/kg has been paid.

In Kilrea, hogget prices increased to 605p to 688p/kg, up 20p to 36p/kg on last week.

In Massereene, hoggets were unchanged from 550p to 610p/kg. Hoggets at 26kg made £145 to £153, with 24kg to £142. Spring lambs sold from 612p to 672p/kg, with 22kg making £148 and 23kg at £145.

In Saintfield, hoggets were slightly easier from 500p to 580p/kg, down 20p/kg on the week. Spring lambs made 625p to 700p/kg, with a top price of £168 for 25kg.

In Rathfriland, hoggets made 429p to 617p/kg, with the sale average of 550p/kg, down 20p/kg. Spring lambs made 630p to 800p/kg, averaging 727p/kg, up 77p/kg on the week and a top of £160 for 22kg.


Fat ewes sold to £144 in Kilrea. In Massereene, Charollais ewes made £136, Texels £130, Dorsets £126, Suffolks £122 and Mules £109. In Saintfield, the top was £180 and in Rathfriland, it was £198.

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