Quotes for clean cattle at local meat plants are generally unchanged this week, with the best quote for a U-3 grade at 378p for both steers and heifers.

However, actual prices paid remain well ahead of base quotes, with regular suppliers reporting that deals of up to 400p/kg are on offer this week for in-spec cattle.

Others have managed to negotiate free haulage.

In general, most cattle continue to move in the low- to mid-390s.

Factory agents maintain that they have enough cattle this week to fill orders, although some acknowledge that numbers look tighter for next week and beyond, which should leave farmers in a strong position to negotiate on price.

In terms of prices paid, last week the average across all steers and heifers was up slightly.

U3 grading steers averaged 389.5p/kg, with U3 heifers at 390.9p/kg and U3 young bulls at 383.4p/kg.

While some buyers have been talking the trade down in recent weeks, average prices paid across all grades are only back about 4p/kg from their peak towards the end of April.

However, there has been more of a correction in Britain, where reported prices had surged on towards an average of 420p/kg for U3s, and have fallen 15p/kg since then.

Meanwhile, the gradual reopening of food service in Britain has benefited the Republic of Ireland trade.

The gap to NI prices was 40p to 50p/kg at the end of March and has now closed to 20p to 30p/kg.

Despite this closing gap, numbers coming north for direct slaughter remain strong, with 447 imported last week. Trade in the opposite direction was 45 head, with 40 cattle going across to Britain for slaughter.

Cow trade

The quotes for fat cows show no change this week. The best quote for an R grade cow is at 290p and for an O+3 grade is at 280p/kg. However, farmers report much higher prices on offer, with well-finished suckler types making 320p to 330p/kg.

Lamb trade

The lamb trade has steadied this week and at some of the marts, prices paid have improved.

However, factory base quotes have eased by 10p to 590p, making a lamb worth £123.90 at the 21kg limit.

In Kilrea, lambs made from 555p to 595p/kg, up by 7p on last week.

In Massereene, lambs sold from 550p to 595p/kg, no change for heavier lambs. Best prices were for 22kg at £131, £129 and £127/head.

In Saintfield, 488 lambs sold from 545p to 580p/kg, no change. Heavyweight lambs at 26kg to 28kg made from £137 to £145/head. Lambs at 22kg made from £120 to £124; and 21kg from £116 to £119.

Lisahally had a firm trade and lambs at 23.5kg achieved £123/head.

A big show of 516 lambs at Rathfriland made from 540p to 580p/kg and averaged 553p, up by 13p on last week.


The trade in fat ewes has improved again, with very good top prices. Kilrea sold to a top of £160. Massereene sold Texels to £172, Charollais to £163 and Suffolks to £157. In Saintfield, the best ewe was at £187 with the better quality from £130 to £185. In Rathfriland the top price was £173.

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