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NI Beef Trade: Cull cows come under pressure

Base quotes from major NI plants for in-spec U-3 grade prime cattle remained steady at 324-334p/kg this week, according to the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC).

The majority of factories quoted between 330-334p/kg for steers and heifers, while quotes for good quality O+3 grade cows continued to range from 240-250p/kg.

“Similar quotes are expected for all types of cattle early next week.” the LMC outlined.

Cattle throughput 

Prime cattle throughput in NI decreased slightly to 7,081 head last week, bringing the prime cattle year-to-date throughput to 61,683 head; this is marginally back from the 61,956 prime cattle slaughtered in same period in 2019.

The average carcase weight of prime cattle to date in 2020 is 346.2kg, up 4.3kg when compared to the same period last year, the LMC added.

Meanwhile, a total of 1,883 cows were killed in NI last week similar levels to the previous week; this takes the year to date throughput of cows to 17,589, up 1,653 head from the 15,936 cows slaughtered in the corresponding period in 2019.

The average cow carcase weight to date this year is 313.3kg, up 5kg when compared to the same period in 2019.

Imports and exports

The LMC pointed out that imports of prime cattle from the Republic of Ireland for direct slaughter in NI plants last week consisted of 247 prime cattle and 59 cows, while 37 cows were imported from GB for direct slaughter.

Exports of cattle out of NI for direct slaughter to ROI last week consisted of seven prime cattle and 52 cows with no cattle exported from NI to GB.


The average NI steer price last week was marginally back to 331.4p/kg from the previous week, while the R3 steer price increased slightly to 339.6p/kg, according to the LMC.

In the corresponding week in 2019, the reported R3 steer price was 341.9p/kg. The average heifer price in NI last week was back 1.5p/kg to 333.8p/kg, while the R3 heifer price decreased half-a-penny to 341.3p/kg.

In the same week last year, the R3 heifer price was 343.1p/kg. The average NI young bull price last week increased by 4.7p/kg to 316.2p/kg while the R3 young bull price increased 0.8p/kg to 325.4p/kg.

“The NI cow trade came under pressure last week with the average cow price decreasing by 2.6p/kg to 237.9p/kg, while the O3 cow price was back by 5.3p/kg to 255.1p/kg.” the LMC explained.


In GB last week, the average steer price was back by 0.7p/kg to 335p/kg while the R3 steer price was back 1.3p/kg to 341.3p/kg.

The average heifer price in GB last week increased marginally to 337p/kg while the R3 heifer price increased by 2.4p/kg to 343.9p/kg.

“The cow trade in GB improved last week with the O3 cow price up by 1.7p/kg to 258.6p/kg, 3.5p/kg above the O3 cow price in NI.”


In ROI last week, there was an increase in reported prices in euro terms and this, combined with a weaker sterling, has meant prices improved strongly in sterling terms.

The R3 steer price last week was up by the equivalent of 5.3p/kg to 313.3p/kg, narrowing the differential with NI to 26.3p/kg.

Meanwhile, the R3 heifer price increased by 4.8p/kg to 318.1p/kg, which puts it 23.2p/kg lower than the same price in NI.

“The O3 cow price in ROI was up 6.2p/kg to 253p/kg, 2.1p/kg behind the equivalent price in NI.” the LMC added.

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