Prices for finished cattle across Northern Ireland are holding firm with base quotes unchanged. This keeps the range of quotes for U-3 grading animals on 362p to 370p/kg.
Supplies of finished animals and processing demand are finely balanced and cattle agents are showing more of an appetite for in-spec animals this week.
Farmers selling cattle report price deals on a similar level to last week. For regular sellers with bigger numbers to offer, steers are generally moving off farm around 380p to 382p/kg with heifers securing 2p to 4p/kg more.
Farmers with limited numbers indicate that prices are closer to 374p to 376p/kg for in-spec animals with young bulls priced around similar levels.
Farmers offloading Angus cattle through premium breed schemes report animals are moving at this level before bonus payments apply.
While cattle agents are trying to keep a lid on prime cattle prices, they are much more flexible on out-of-spec animals being offered from regular finishers in order to ringfence supplies in the month ahead.
Prices in the live ring are still extremely buoyant and this is helping to keep a floor in the beef trade at present.
Last week, the average price paid across all grades of steers and heifers eased by 0.29p to 370.16p/kg.
Steers at U3 conformation were unchanged on 381p/kg, while U3 grading heifers slipped by 1.5p to 382.9p/kg. Young bulls at the same grade rose by 1.7p to 372.9p/kg.
Several plants have increased buying activity at marts south of the border as sterling strengthens against the euro.
Last week, 287 cattle were imported for direct slaughter at local plants, up 92 head on the week.
The cow trade is also rock solid with plants again leaving quotes unchanged on 275p/kg for R3 animals and O+3 cows on 265p/kg.
However, base quotes are running well short of what is on offer with good cows making 300p to 320p/kg.