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AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly

02 September 2013

EBLEX Cattle Weekly - 30 August 2013EBLEX Cattle Weekly - 30 August 2013

Demand led pressure on price prevails

The GB all prime indicator in week ending 24 August eased back another 2p on the week to average 380.1p/kg. AHDB/EBLEX estimates suggest that numbers forward increased compared to the week before, although they were once again markedly back on the year. The demand-led downwards pressure on price has resulted in the most significant easing in deadweight cattle prices since 2009, although on average prices are still around 40p/kg up on the year. Despite this, the fundamental supply situation still points to offering support for prices once consumer routines return to a more ‘normal’ pattern in the coming post-holiday period. This is perhaps reinforced by the trend in liveweight prices in the latest week, ended 28 August, which was more encouraging.

Lower throughputs and lighter cattle leads to a drop in production

UK prime cattle slaughterings for July have been published by Defra and are now available on the EBLEX website. At 173,200 head, prime cattle slaughterings were back 3% on year earlier levels. The sustained increase in heifer slaughterings could indicate a reduction in the number of females being retained for breeding in the UK, a situation which clearly has long term implications for the UK beef industry. Largely on the back of the decreased steer throughputs, all regions of the UK, with the exception of Scotland, recorded reduced availability.

As expected, and for the third month in a row, cull cow and adult bull throughputs were markedly lower in all regions of the UK. With lower cereal prices offering the opportunity for some producers to be able to retain cows on finishing rations, it is likely that the already tight supply of cows may be accentuated further during the autumn.

Average carcase weights for all classes of cattle continued to be considerably lower on the year. The combination of lower weights and reduced throughputs meant that beef and veal production in July was back 8% on the year at 75,500 tonnes.

Reduced cattle herd in Northern Ireland

The preliminary June 2013 results published by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) for Northern Ireland showed a decline in total cattle numbers. With margins under pressure in both the dairy and beef sector there was a 3% drop in the cow herd, broadly returning numbers to the level recorded in June 2011. Further analysis of the results of the census is available on the EBLEX website.

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