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AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly


26 January 2015

EBLEX Cattle and Sheep Weekly - 26 January 2015EBLEX Cattle and Sheep Weekly - 26 January 2015


Strengthening prime cattle trade continues

In week ended 17 January, the GB all prime deadweight average price was up another 2p on the week to 363.9p/kg. The usual January slowdown in consumer demand has not, as yet, had an impact on the trade, despite estimates suggesting that throughputs are up on the week before. The overall GB deadweight steer price increased 2p on the week to 365.5p/kg, while those falling within the R4L specification reached their highest point in almost a year at 374.9p/kg. Heifer prices followed a similar trend with the overall price also increasing 2p on the week earlier to 368.2p/kg.

The cull cow market demonstrated some stability, with the overall GB deadweight cow price almost unchanged on a week earlier at 222.0p/kg. This levelling comes despite slaughtering estimates indicating around 700 more cows came forward, compared with the previous week. Despite trade demonstrating robust demand at the moment, reports are starting to suggest that cow prices are becoming more wide ranging, with significant differentials emerging between beef and dairy sired cows.

Increased numbers of steers drive production up again

Despite the festive disruptions, UK prime cattle slaughterings in December were up 3% on the year again at 140,500 head. Higher steer throughputs in all regions of the UK continued to primarily drive the yearon-year increase, although heifer numbers also tracked above year earlier levels except in Scotland. For another month, young bull throughputs were back on the year. At 12,500 head, they were down well over a third, compared with December 2013, to be at their lowest monthly level since records began in 1985.

Young bull throughputs have been significantly back on the year earlier for most of 2014. With a compensatory increase in the steer kill, it has become clear that many more males have been castrated. Most likely a reaction to the imposition of significant age and weight penalties for un-castrated males, this development will be looked at more closely in the January edition of the Cattle and Sheep Update, published next week.

Overall, adult cattle throughputs were up significantly on the year. While trade has been relatively firm, especially for cows of beef origin, it is possible that the challenges in the dairy sector could have led to an increase the number of cows coming forward. However, it is too early to ascertain a realistic picture of developments.

With steers and heifers over wintering well on reasonably priced fodder, their carcase weights were higher than in December last year. Combined with increased throughputs, at 63,400 tonnes, beef and veal production was up 7% year on year. This takes production for 2014 as a whole to 878,000 tonnes, an increase of 4% on the year.

 

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