UK cattle trade sees biggest fall since Christmas

The combination of subdued consumer demand and adequate supplies continues to drive some restraint amongst processors and exert downwards pressure on the prime cattle market in Britain.

According to the AHDB last week, as prices for all classes of cattle fell, the deadweight all prime average was back over 2p on the week at 324.6p/kg.

This it said represented the most significant week-on-week price fall since trading resumed properly after the Christmas holidays and means that the measure has fallen 10p/kg since the turn of the year. It is now 28p behind that in the corresponding week last year.

R4L steers and heifers were both down 2p on the week earlier to 335.7p.kg and 334.8p/kg respectively.

The AHDB says that in both cases they are trading very close to the low point of last year.

Given the short run outlook, it says there is little, if any, doubt that prices will fall below last year’s low very soon.

Young bulls came back more notably on the week, with the R3 average falling 3p to 317.3p/kg.

Queues

Of concern, the AHDB cites is reports that queues for all types are starting to emerge at many processors which presents the risk that some animals at slaughter condition could end up being kept on farm longer than would be ideal and thus present out of specification.

Cull cows

Meanwhile, the cull cow trade has consistently fared better than the prime cattle trade in recent weeks with some moderate price stability.

According to the AHDB data, in the latest week at 218.5p/kg the -O4L cow average increased 2p on the week.

It says despite still trading significantly lower than last year demand is good, and the supply/demand balance is just in producers’ favour, particularly for those animals with a better level of finish.