Quotes remain steady this week, with prices generally unchanged from last week.

Quotes for bullocks remain at €4.10/kg, with larger regular suppliers able to squeeze €4.15/kg. A base price of €4.20/kg has also been paid to secure larger lots of cattle in the next three weeks.

Heifers are working off €4.15/kg to €4.20/kg again, with the higher quotes going to more regular suppliers.

Some factories have seen an increased appetite for Aberdeen Angus and Hereford cattle, with bonuses of up to 20c/kg back on the table. I have also heard of flat deals of as high as €4.50/kg being paid for mixtures of R and O grading dairy beef heifers.

The bull trade remains buoyant, with €4.10/kg to €4.15/kg on the table for under-16-month bulls.

At €4.15/kg base price, this means a U=3= bull is up at €4.45. At €4.15/kg base, a U=3= steer is coming into €4.53, just 8c/kg more, which makes you wonder about all the negative talk around bulls and the fact that they don’t want them anymore.

Cows still remain top of the pile in terms of factory appetite, with some serious money being paid in marts over the last two weeks for well-fleshed quality suckler cows.

With several agents working on online bidding up and down the country, marts are the only town for a good cow.

R grading cows are working off €3.75/kg to €3.85/kg, depending on flesh and quality, with U grading cows on 5c to 10c/kg more. O grading cows are working off €3.60/kg to €3.65/kg and P grades coming in at €3.30/kg to €3.40/kg.

Factories are still very eager for finished cattle, despite some of them expressing the sentiment this week that there was loads of cattle available.

One agent I spoke to even talked about price coming back. This is the oldest trick in the book, when you can’t get cattle, talk about a price reduction and that flushes out the weak sellers.

Factories continue to bump up the weekly kill, with purchases in marts around the country.

Shed cattle have all but dried up at this stage. May and June was always a tricky time for supply. That’s why any of the integrated supply programmes offer increased bonuses at this time of year to encourage more supply for the next few weeks.

Last week’s kill dropped to 28,404, a drop of 1,732 in seven days. This has been the largest drop in the kill for some time and would signal a real tightening in supplies.

Cows saw the biggest drop, with 646 fewer cows killed in the last week.

IFA livestock chair Brendan Golden said: “Farmers need to bargain hard when selling. Factories are trying everything at the moment to get cattle, including putting agents on the road in search of cattle this week.

“We are seeing big differences in prices being paid in different parts of the country, so it’s important that farmers sell hard when they can.”

Northern Ireland

The beef trade in Northern Ireland appears to have settled, with little price movement over the past few weeks.

Base quotes remain on 378p/kg (€4.63/kg inc VAT) for U-3 grading animals, although deals remain well ahead of this level.

Prime steers and heifers are making 394p to 398p/kg (€4.82 to €4.88/kg) with higher prices reserved for specialist finishers.

There are more cattle coming on the market, which is suppressing any further momentum. Cull cows remain on a base of 290p/kg (€3.55/kg) for R3 animals with deals of 320p/kg on offer.