The beef trade appears to have levelled off, with no movement in price deals or base quotes this week.
While the market is steady, beef prices are currently running 25p to 30p/kg ahead of the same week last year and 65p/kg above 2019 levels.
Although there is no glut of cattle coming on to the market, farmers are encountering short delays in getting animals processed.
Ultimately, factories continue to experience issues with staff having to isolate under COVID-19 protocols and this is curtailing throughput slightly for both cattle and sheep.
However, despite this, cattle agents are still keen for stock and, as such, many are standing on at price deals similar to last week.
Base quotes on U-3 grading cattle are unchanged, with 392p to 394p/kg on offer at the upper end of the quote range.
Farmers with a good supply of animals continue to report steers moving at 400p to 404p/kg, with good-quality heifers making upwards of 410p/kg. Higher prices are reserved for larger, specialist finishers.
Young bulls continue to move off farm around 398p/kg for in-spec animals, with plainer animals moving at prices in line with base quotes.
Last week, the average price paid across all grades of cattle and sheep was marginally higher at 394.69p/kg.
For U3 grading animals, steers increased by 0.4p to 402.8p/kg, while heifers fell by 1.4p to 405.8p/kg and young bulls on 397.8p/kg, a marginal increase week on week.
Imports of cattle for direct slaughter from the Republic of Ireland totalled 538, of which 365 were prime cattle and 171 were cull cows.
For the year to date, Irish cattle imported for slaughter totalled 10,662, an increase of 322 year on year.
Demand for cull cows has steadied and base quotes remain on 312p/kg for R3 animals, with O+3 cows on 302p/kg.
However, quotes fall well below actual prices, with R3 cows averaging 331.6p/kg and O+3 cows on 316p/kg last week.
NI sheep: lamb prices recover in the live ring
There were smaller shows of lambs this week and prices in the marts improved by 10p to 28p/kg. At local plants, quotes have risen by 5p to 475p/kg midweek, making lambs at 21kg deadweight worth £99.75.
In Kilrea, lambs sold from 420p to 480p/kg, up 12p/kg on last week. Butcher lambs at 26.5kg made £117.50. Lambs at 23kg made £96 to £100, 21kg made £90.50. Store lambs at 18kg made £82.50.
Massereene sold 1,004 lambs from 420p to 440p/kg, up 10p/kg on last week. Lambs at 26kg made £108, 25kg at £103, 24kg made £104 and 22kg to £96.50.
There was a great trade in Saintfield and 690 lambs made 428p to 475p/kg, up 28p/kg on the week. Lambs at 28kg made £112, 25kg at £106, 24kg made £103 to £107 and with 22kg made £96 to £100.
In Rathfriland, 711 lambs sold from 425p to 525p/kg, with the sale average of 458p/kg up 24p/kg on the week.
The first shows in Ballymena on Wednesday morning had 25kg Texels making £108, up £6 to £8 on last week. Big pens of fed lambs at 23.5kg made £104, up £7, with 22kg at £96, up £5.
The trade in fat ewes remains firm. The best ewe in Kilrea made £174 and in Massereene made £157. In Saintfield, top was £186, with the main run from £112 to £170. In Rathfriland, top was £141.