Factory prices are holding relatively firm for prime steers and heifers, but there is some pressure being exerted on young bulls.
Base quotes remain on 480p/kg for U-3 grading animals, with deals hovering around 500p/kg for in-spec steers and heifers, with little sign of any delay in getting animals slaughtered. However, deals are harder to come by on bulls, particularly where animals are coming close to exceeding the 16-month age limit.
Most reports put young bulls around the 490p/kg mark, with some factory agents indicating 2p to 4p/kg is likely to come off this price for the week ahead as the availability of bull beef increases.
Supplies of shed finished cattle are expected to increase over the next month and with sales of prime beef cuts sluggish, processors were warning suppliers at last week’s Balmoral Show that there is a relatively small price correction coming soon.
However, farmers with in-spec cattle remain in a strong selling position, and robust demand from the live ring is expected to keep a floor under the beef trade in the short term, as will a tightening in supplies post-June.
Ultimately processors need to maintain throughput over the summer to manage overhead costs.
Meanwhile, quotes for spring lambs remain on 670p/kg this week, with price deals running around 15-20p/kg ahead for good-quality lots.
Marts continue to provide competition for local factories. Agents buying for Republic of Ireland-based processors are extremely prominent ringside, where around £145 is being paid for good-quality meal-finished lambs.