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AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly


27 March 2015

EBLEX Cattle and Sheep Weekly - 27 March 2015EBLEX Cattle and Sheep Weekly - 27 March 2015


Cattle trade eases again

In week ending 21 March, prime cattle prices came back again as the market continues to be finely balanced between supply and demand. Prices for most types of cattle were down on the previous week. The overall steer price was back 4p to 354.3p/kg, while the average heifer price eased a penny to 356.8p/kg. Young bull prices also came back as buyers continued to be more selective. Consequently, the all prime average was down 2p at 353.0p.kg.

In addition, cow prices fell for the second consecutive week, with the all cow average back another 2p to 229.7p/kg. It has been suggested that the robust demand for cows has arisen from an increase in demand from retailers for cheaper cuts of beef. Given the current decline in prime cattle prices, the opportunity for some product substitution may have had an effect on the demand for cows.

Tight supplies in Ireland may provide some good news to UK producers amid concerns that the current weakening in prices could be signal a return to a similar situation to last year. According to Bord Bia, the favourable exchange rate has resulted in live exports to Northern Ireland increasing significantly this year. In the latest week, processors have increased prices by 5-10 c/kg due to tight supplies.

Overall, Bord Bia is forecasting supplies at export plants to be down 150,000 head this year, which is likely to result in exports declining notably. From the UK perspective, the impact of this will depend on how the price differential moves, affecting the ability of imported product to compete. So far this year, the gap has fluctuated between 60 and 75p/kg which is still relatively wide in historic terms.

Increase in steer throughputs slows again

UK prime cattle slaughterings in February were unchanged on the year at 155,500 head. While steer throughputs are still tracking above year earlier levels, the year-on-year uplift has slowed for the second month in a row. In the UK as a whole, the uplift was just 7%. This represents only the second sub-10% increase since July last year, the first being in January. This development is starting to give some evidence that supplies may be beginning to tighten. Adult cattle throughputs were up across all the regions of the UK with the exception of Northern Ireland. Trade during the month was firm, especially for cows of beef origin. It appears as though the challenges in the dairy sector may be resulting in an increase in the number of cows coming forward. At 71,000 tonnes, beef and veal production was up 2% year on year.

 

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