Farmers are on the back foot within the beef trade this week, as processors attempt to ease cattle prices.

Base prices are back 2p/kg, bringing the top end of official quotes to 466p/kg for U-3 grading animals, easing to 460p/kg at the opposite end of the scale.

Factory agents are working hard to talk the trade down and consistently pointing to lower prices in Britain and the Republic of Ireland as justification for cutting prices in NI.

While the price gap to Britain has narrowed to around 10p/kg, prices south of the border appear to be bottoming out, with signs that numbers are starting to tighten going into June.

Deals on steers and heifers have eased, with 2p to 4p/kg less on offer to NI farmers this week, depending on numbers available when negotiating on price.

That puts most steers and heifers on 484p to 486p/kg and negotiating above this level is proving difficult without the prospect of a weekly supply of animals.

Price pressure is most severe on young bulls, particularly on animals closing in on the 16-month age limit.

Deals in line with steer prices are harder to come by and regular finishers indicate bulls are back 4p to 6p/kg this week to 478p/kg.

Several farmers are being told of delays of up to two weeks before bulls can be offloaded, which is causing frustration, as there is a double whammy of a lower price and extra feed incurred.

Delays in getting animals processed do not appear to be in place on steers and heifers based on reports from farmers booking cattle for slaughter this week.

Last week, the average price on U3 steers eased by 0.2p to 487.1p/kg, with heifers down 1.2p to 487.6p/kg.


Cull cows are generally steady, helped by a strong live ring, where good-quality animals are returning over 400p/kg.

Factory prices are lagging behind, with 370p to 390p/kg on offer.

Older, plainer cows are on 340p to 350p/kg.

NI sheep: higher numbers sees lamb trade settle

Marts have seen a cooling for lambs this week, with bigger numbers forwarded. Only select numbers of top-quality lambs are returning above the £180 mark, while factories have eased quotes by 20p/kg to 780p/kg.

In Gortin, the trade was easier, as lambs at 31kg made £184, 26kg to £181, 24kg to £180, 27kg at £176 and the main run from £160 to £174.50.

In Kilrea, 700 lambs sold from 772p to 815p/kg, down 12p to 31p/kg on last week, with 19.5kg at £159, 22kg at £176.59, 20kg at £158.50 and 21kg from £161 to £165.50.

Markethill had a good trade for 250 lambs, with prices from 760p to 818p/kg, down 10p/kg on last week, with 20kg at £163.50, 21kg at £171, 20.5 kg at £165 and heavy lots selling to £199, with several pens making £180 to £188.

Saintfield sold 640 head from 760p to 830p/kg, down 20p to 30p/kg on last week. In Ballymena, Texel ram lambs at 22kg sold to £188, with 21kg to 23kg pens making from £170 to £177.

Fat ewes

Well-fleshed ewes sold live are still a very good trade, with Gortin topping £220 and a run from £150 to £184.

In Kilrea, top was £300, with Markethill selling ewes from £140 to a top of £216, as plainer types made £80 to £130.

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