Processing demand for prime cattle is holding firm, with no change on price deals or base quotes this week.
Quotes on U-3 grading cattle remain on 394p/kg, with most plants working from an opening price of 400p/kg.
In-spec steers continue to move off farm around the 404p to 406p/kg mark, with higher prices reserved for larger numbers or where a regular flow of cattle can be supplied.
Prime heifers are harder to come by than steers and therefore continue to command a premium of 4p to 6p/kg above steer prices.
Young bulls continue to move off farm from 394p to 400p/kg, with the higher prices easier to secure on suckler-bred animals under 400kg carcase weight.
There are still reports of farmers supplying cattle at flat-rate prices
Cattle processed under breed schemes are moving at the official base prices before bonus payments are applied.
There are still reports of farmers supplying cattle at flat-rate prices, with no penalty on animals exceeding carcase weight limits.
Looking to next week, factory agents indicate they have adequate numbers booked for slaughter.
Last week, the average price paid across all grades of steers and heifers was 394.1p/kg
With processors reducing the number of kill days over Christmas, some smaller suppliers are being pushed back to the start of January before animals can be offloaded.
Last week, the average price paid across all grades of steers and heifers was 394.1p/kg, down 0.23p/kg on the previous week.
The average price paid on U3 steers strengthened by 2.2p to 405.5p/kg, with heifers at the same grade rising by a similar amount to average 409.6p/kg. Young bulls averaged 395.5p/kg for U3 animals.
Irish cattle imported for direct slaughter in Northern Ireland totalled 328, of which 228 were prime stock. There were 48 cattle moving in the opposite direction, while no cattle were shipped from NI to Britain.
Base quotes for R3 cows is holding at 290p/kg, with O+3 animals on 280p/kg. Deals of 320p/kg remain on offer for good-quality suckler types.
NI sheep: Fat lamb price steadies
The market for fat lambs has steadied this week, although some plants increased quotes by 5p to 575p/kg to close the gap to price deals on offer. This makes lambs worth £126.50 at 22kg deadweight.
In Kilrea, a big show of 730 lambs sold from 510p to 560p/kg, no change on last week.
Massereene sold 511 lambs from 510p to 555p/kg, up 10p/kg on last week. Lambs at 22.5kg sold for £125 (555p/kg), 22kg at £122 (554p/kg) and 21kg to £115 (547p/kg). Heavy lambs were a good trade, with 26kg selling from £130 to £134 and 24kg to 27kg from £128 to £132.
Saintfield sold 694 lambs from 514p to 600p/kg, up slightly on last week.
In Rathfriland, a show of 629 lambs averaged 535p/kg, up 6p/kg on last week. Heavy lambs at 30kg sold to £139, with 27.5kg to £136.
Early lots in Ballymena saw 26.5kg at £126.50 and 25.5kg at £125. Stores at 17.5kg made £81.
The trade for fat ewes is also firm. In Massereene, Charollais sold to £140, Suffolks to £132, Mules to £115 and Blackface to £69.
In Rathfriland, top price was £196, with others at £178, £174 and £164.