There is little change in the beef trade this week, keeping farmers with a good supply of animals to offload in a strong selling position.

While some processors are doubling down on efforts to talk the trade down, there are factory agents saying numbers look set to remain tight, making it hard to impose a cut.

Any talk of downward price moves has yet to filter through to the live trade, as specialist finishers remain extremely active for short-keep cattle.

Mart managers indicate that weekly sales are also seeing a downward trend in numbers, underpinning competition.

They continue to see farmers with smaller numbers selling cattle through the live ring to capitalise on higher prices.

Base quotes on U-3 grading animals remain on 432p/kg at the top of market. However, there is a differential of 20p/kg between base quotes and prices paid for prime cattle.

Reports indicate that steers continue to open around 448p to 450p/kg, with more-regular finishers securing 2p to 4p/kg more for bigger numbers.

Heifers are priced at similar levels, with most reports putting in-spec animals between 450p and 454p/kg.

Higher prices are reserved for specialist finishers on a regular slaughter arrangement and most reports indicate the majority of factory throughput is being sourced from such units at present.

Young bulls meeting retail specifications on carcase weight, conformation and slaughter age are moving around the 446p to 448p/kg mark.

Last week, the average price paid across steers and heifers of all grades increased by 1.5p to 437.88p/kg.

On U3 cattle, steers rose by 2.4p to average 453.6p/kg, with heifers up 1.4p to 452p/kg. Young bulls averaged 445.6p/kg, up 2.2p/kg on the previous week.


Prices for cull cows are also rock solid, with deals of 400p to 410p/kg widely available, despite quotes holding at 370p/kg for R3 animals. Last week, cows at the outlined grade averaged 406.5p/kg.

NI sheep: factories make severe price cuts

Prices for fat lambs are in reverse gear this week, with marts seeing prices falling 60p/kg.

Plants have moved to pull quotes to 630p/kg, making lambs worth £132.30 at the 21kg carcase limit.

In Kilrea, 420 lambs sold from 595p to 620p/kg, down 30p/kg on last week.

In Massereene, a smaller show saw 486 lambs sold from 568p to 615p/kg, down 50p/kg on last week. The 615p/kg was paid for 20.5kg at £126, with 607p/kg for 22kg at £133.50. Heavy lambs at 30kg sold to £140.50 and 24kg to 26kg made £134 to £136.

In Saintfield, a big show of 908 lambs made 575p to 630p/kg, down 60p/kg on last week.

Top prices were £140 for 28kg and £138 for 25kg, with a run making from £134 to £137 for 23kg to 25kg. Lambs at 21kg made £124 to £126.

In Rathfriland, a big show saw 817 lambs making 565p to 610p/kg, with the sale average of 575p/kg, down 60p/kg on last week.


Meanwhile, the strong trade in fat ewes is holding firm. In Kilrea, the top price was £217. In Massereene, the tops were £220 and £174 for Texels, £170 for Blue de Maine, £150 for Suffolks, £140 for Charollais and £120 for Mules.

In Saintfield, the top prices were £266, £250 and £208, with others making from £150 to £174. In Rathfriland, the top was £192.

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