Factory prices on prime cattle are generally steady, although some buying agents continue to talk the trade down.

However, farmers with a good supply of cattle remain in a strong position to negotiate on price.

That position is strengthened if farmers have the option of selling live and it should be used to secure the best return on in-spec animals.

Other farmers indicate they have shopped around and are being offered higher prices from competing plants, as well as moving cattle within a few days of booking for slaughter.

Ultimately, there are deals to be had for a good supply of in-spec steers and heifers and, despite some initial talk of downward price pressure, factory agents do not want to miss out on numbers.

Official base prices have eased by 2p/kg at the upper end of the quote range, with 462p/kg on offer for U-3 grading animals.

That is keeping prices on cattle such as Aberdeen Angus in check, as bonuses apply on top of the official base.

However, conventional cattle prices remain 20p above this level, with steers on 480p to 484p/kg, depending on numbers.

Heifers are faring slightly better, with deals on 482p to 486p/kg, although there are isolated reports of cattle moving between 476p and 478p/kg for farmers with limited numbers.

Young bulls are moving between 474p to 478p/kg, with the higher end of this price range easier to secure on animals meeting specification on carcase weight, age and conformation.

Last week, the average price paid on steers and heifers of all grades rose by 0.5p to 471.78p/kg.

On U3 cattle, steers eased by 0.7p to 480.9p/kg. Heifers increased by 0.8p to 483.4p/kg, with bulls up 0.6p to 474.4p/kg.


Demand for cull cows is robust and with a vibrant live ring, prices are edging upwards.

Good-quality cows are returning 390p to 400p/kg, while plainer and older lots are making 360p to 380p/kg.

NI sheep: lamb trade eases

Buying demand for lambs has eased this week and prices are down at local plants as well as the live ring.

The best quotes are on 670p/kg, making a lamb worth £140.70 at the 21kg limit, but deals of 10p to 20p/kg more are on offer.


In Gortin, the trade was well back, with lambs at 30kg making £164 and 25kg made £140. Lambs at 23kg made £133, 22kg to £126.50 and 21kg at £115.

There was a weaker trade in Kilrea, with 700 lambs selling from 610p to 643p/kg, down £30 on last week. Lambs at 22kg made £141.50, 21.5kg at £137, 21kg made £132 and £130.

There was an easier trade in Markethill, with 1,010 head sold from 610p to 685p/kg, down 77p to 110p/kg. Lambs at 20.8kg made £142.50, 22kg at £146, 23.3kg made £147.50 and heavy lots sold to £181, with a run from £160 to £175.

There was a good trade in Saintfield, with 805 head from 625p to 730p/kg, down by 60p/kg or £13 on last week. Heavy lambs were a great trade, with £170 and £174 paid for 24kg, 22.5kg to £155 and 21kg to £140.50.

In Ballymena, top-quality lambs at 23kg made £162.50, 22.5kg to £154.50 and 22kg from £140 to £143.

Fat ewes

The mart trade for fat ewes is also easier this week. In Gortin, ewes sold from £130 to a top of £192.

In Kilrea, the top was £194. In Markethill, ewes sold from £130 to £185, with plainer types from £70 to £110. Saintfield topped £226 for Texels, with a big run from £160 to £210.

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