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AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly


25 August 2014

EBLEX Cattle Weekly - 22 August 2014EBLEX Cattle Weekly - 22 August 2014


Another positive movement in cattle trade

For another week, there was upwards movement in the prime cattle trade. In week ended 16 August, despite numbers seemingly increasing on the week, the all prime average was up 3p at 331.7p/kg. This further uplift reflects a more positive trading environment in which the all prime average has strengthened by more than 6p/kg over the past three weeks. With throughputs estimated to be higher, this price rise has evidently come as demand has improved, meaning the supply and demand balance has modestly swung in producers’ favour, with processors reportedly chasing cattle. As such, waiting lists have evaporated and price negotiations are reported to have been more favourable, even for cattle previously penalised for being ‘out of spec’. Consequently, while R4L steers levelled on the week at 343.2p/kg, the overall steer average increased 3p to 334.4p/kg.

While the short term outlook may still indicate that the caution in trade has not dissipated entirely, particularly as supplies in Ireland are still running ahead of year earlier levels, the mid-term outlook continues to look more positive. British Cattle Movement Service data in July shows the potential for only a modest increase in domestic supplies over the coming few months. However, it demonstrates clear signs of lower availability later this year and into 2015,which may have implications for the evolution of prices.

UK production up again in July

UK prime cattle throughputs in July were up over 1% on the year at 177,400 head. Steer throughputs entirely drove the increase, being 9% higher at 85,300. Largely due to increased numbers in England and Wales, this represented the highest July steer slaughtering position since 2011. In contrast, following the first year-on-year decline in 2014 so far during June, heifer numbers were again lower than year earlier levels. Being down 2%, at 60,500 head, this was entirely attributed to lower numbers in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Young bull throughputs were back nearly 10% on the year at 31,600 head. Adult cattle slaughterings were again lower on the year, being 8% back at 49,600 head. The good weather and abundant grass in some areas may be offering opportunities for producers to add condition to those cows they are able to.

Despite total cattle numbers being back just a fraction on the year, the better conditions have once again had a positive impact on carcase weights.

These higher weights were the key driver in increased beef and veal production for the month, which was 3%, or 2,200 tonnes, higher year on year at 78,600 tonnes.

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