The beef trade remains brisk this week, with factories anxious for cattle supplies.

The general quote for heifers is now at €4.15/kg, with €4.20/kg being paid to regular suppliers and those with numbers.

Bullocks are working off €4.10/kg, with €4.15/kg being paid where mixed loads of heifers and bullocks are involved.

Numbers tight

Some agents are openly admitting that numbers are very tight, with some expecting a further kick on in price in the next week or so.

Flat prices for O grading in-spec quality-assured Aberdeen Angus and Hereford heifers of as high as €4.45/kg have been paid in the last week to secure supplies.

With most shed cattle killed, finished cattle will remain in tight supply for the next few weeks until grass cattle start to come ready off grass.

Farmers are advised to use the tightness in numbers to their best advantage and bargain hard when selling finished cattle.

Many factories are now throwing in haulage and no weight limits as sweeteners to close off deals.

Good-quality R grading suckler cows are being quoted at €3.80-€3.85/kg, with O grading cows being quoted as high as €3.65/kg depending on quality and flesh.

P grades are working off €3.30-€3.45/kg, with good demand for suitably fleshed cows.

The bull trade is also brisk, with quotes increasing to €4.10/kg base price on the grid.

Over-16-month U-grading bulls are working off €4.15/kg, with R grading bulls coming in at €4.05/kg.

Strong demand

While cattle suitable for grazing may have eased a little in marts in the last week, there continues to be a very strong demand for slaughter-fit cattle.

Cull cows in particular have seen a big improvement in recent weeks, with NI agents and wholesalers very active for good-quality cows.