Prime cattle prices remain finely balanced in the run up to the festive period, but average values are slowly but surely nudging towards £5 per deadweight kg.

Latest figures from AHDB show that the All Scottish steer average levelled at 498.0p – up 1.2p on the previous week – with those hitting the R4L 'spec achieving 500.5p.

The All heifer average improved marginally at 495.2p, with only those hitting the -U grade able to achieve £5.

These prices compare to the average steer price in Northern Ireland of 458.2p and 459.6p for heifers for the same week. However, further south in the Republic of Ireland, beef prices are significantly lower with R4 steer carcases selling at 401p with similarly graded heifers at 406.8p.

Scotland also boasts the highest prices for young bulls and cows, with average prices of 470.2p and 345.1p, respectively, compared to the same cattle sold in Northern Ireland at 430.3p and 273.7p.

Only graded cattle are quoted in Eire, which last week saw R3 young bulls at 396.8p against the same Scottish cattle at almost £1 per kg dearer at 482.6p. There was, however, less of a difference between 04 cows sold in the Republic compared to Scotland which cashed in at 329.8p and 353.8p per dwkg respectively.