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AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly


21 October 2013

EBLEX Cattle Weekly - 18 October 2013EBLEX Cattle Weekly - 18 October 2013


Trade level on the back of subdued demand

As the mild weather continues and consumers’ budgets remain tight following the summer holiday period, retail demand is reported to be subdued. With producers leaving cattle outside to save on bedding costs, supplies off grass are reported to be slightly ahead of current market requirements. As a result, in week ended 12 October, upwards pressure stalled as processors kept a lid on prices. The GB all prime indicator eased back 2p on the week to average 393.3p/kg. Despite the demand-led downwards pressure on price in the latest week, the likelihood is that the tight supply of in-spec yarded cattle could offer support for prices in the run up to the peak Christmas procurement period. Prices continue to trade well ahead of year earlier levels.

Latest prices at GB auction markets followed the same trend. In week ended 16 October, with slightly more cattle forward, the all cattle average was back 5p on the week at 197.4p/kg. Cow prices at auction also appear to have been subdued. However, trade has fluctuated throughout the week as price reflected processors requirements for the type of carcases for which they have orders.

Lower steer throughputs and carcase weights leads to another drop in production

UK prime cattle slaughterings for September have been published by Defra and are now available on the EBLEX website. Prime cattle slaughterings were back just 1% on year earlier levels as an increase in heifer and young bull throughputs was partly offset by lower steer throughputs. Once again, the sustained increase in heifer slaughterings could indicate that the number of females being retained for breeding in the UK is not increasing, a situation which clearly has implications for beef production in the UK over the longer term. Northern Ireland was the only region of the UK to report a year-on-year decline in heifer throughputs. As expected, cull cow and adult bull throughputs were once again markedly lower in all regions of the UK.

The poor seasonal conditions and low feed availability earlier in the year still had an impact on carcase weights, which were again lower on the year. Combined with reduced throughputs, this meant that beef and veal production in September was 5% lower than year earlier levels at 66,200 tonnes. Further analysis of the year to date position is available on the EBLEX website.

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