Demand for cattle in Northern Ireland (NI) has started off 2021 as it finished in 2020, with high numbers moving north again this month.

This has added extra bite to the trade in marts, pushing southern agents into higher prices to secure scarce supplies of finished cattle.

Northern wholesalers have been particularly active for cull cows, with a number of NI agents very active across the country in the last few days.

Retail trade

A very strong UK retail trade is taking all supermarket-spec cattle across the water and this is leaving the space in the NI market for southern cattle.

The latest data shows that R4L steers have moved up to €4.51/kg. That means the current price differential between Ireland and the UK for a 350kg R grading steer is €175/head.

The English beef price is currently running €0.54/kg ahead of the same period last year and €0.39/kg ahead of the five-year average.

Huge numbers

Elphin Mart’s Gerry Connellan told the Irish Farmers Journal: “We are seeing huge numbers head north. Several factories are buying here now on a weekly basis.

“Cull cows are an especially good trade with cows making up to the equivalent of a €4/kg beef price in the mart ring. We’ve had a seamless transition with cattle being exported to NI since 1 January with a little extra paperwork but no delays.”