Farmers with prime cattle for sale are in a strong position to bargain on price, as factory agents are becoming more competitive for stock.
While the Easter Holiday period meant local plants are working on a short killing week, it has done little to ease the pressure on securing numbers.
Farmers report they were contacted regularly over the bank holiday weekend by agents looking for cattle towards the end of this week.
With supplies of finished cattle extremely limited and an improving trade in the live ring, there is a wide range of price deals on offer to entice farmers into offloading finished stock.
Cattle are being bought at 386p to 388p/kg for farmers with smaller numbers of stock
Base quotes for U-3 grading animals are improving, with some plants on 380p/kg, but this falls well short of price deals on offer.
Cattle are being bought at 386p to 388p/kg for farmers with smaller numbers of stock or in the case of those selling less frequently.
Prime cattle prices
More regular finishers report 390p/kg is widely available for prime cattle and plenty of stock are being bought at this level.
Where bigger numbers of in-spec cattle are available or farmers are killing on a regular arrangement, there are deals on offer at 394p to 398p/kg this week.
For U3 steers, prices rose by 4.8p to 388.9p/kg
However, such prices are at the upper end of the market and relate to butcher-type heifers or else include premiums for in-spec animals.
Last week, the average price paid across all grades of steers and heifers rose by 3.9p to 377.81p/kg.
For U3 steers, prices rose by 4.8p to 388.9p/kg, with heifers at the same grade rising by 1.7p to 389.3p/kg.
Young bulls rose by 5.3p to 380p/kg for U3 grading animals.
The trade for cull cows is also on a strong footing, with quotes for R3 grading cows at 290p to 300p/kg, but prices continue to run ahead of this level. Last week, the price paid on R3 cows eased by 2p to 305.3p/kg.
NI sheep: live trade driving hogget and lamb prices
Demand for spring lambs and hoggets in the marts is booming and processors are struggling to keep pace.
Quotes are on 680p/kg for lambs and 620p for hoggets. However, it will take 700p/kg or more to match the live ring for lambs.
On Tuesday, Saintfield sold lambs to £158 for 23k,g with £157 paid for 25kg. Lighter lambs at 19.5kg sold for £136.50 with 21kg at £142. Hoggets sold to £150 for 27kg with 25kg to £144 and 21kg at £126.
In Rathfriland, lambs made 635p to 730p/kg, with an average of 693p/kg. Top price was £165 for 23kg, with £163 and £157 for 22kg and £150 for 21.5kg. In Gortin, lambs reached £181.
The trade for fat ewes is very strong. In Saintfield, top was £195, with the main run from £120 to £151. In Rathfriland, top was £194 with a big run from £140 to £166.