- news, features, articles and disease information for the beef industry

AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly

02 December 2013

EBLEX Cattle Weekly - 29 November 2013EBLEX Cattle Weekly - 29 November 2013

Unseasonally slow trade keeps lid on cattle prices

With trade still reported to be slow and processors carrying adequate stocks, deadweight cattle prices demonstrated little, if any, seasonal uplift in the latest week. In week ended 23 November with heifer and steer prices edging up a fraction the all prime cattle average increased just a penny on the week to 387.4p/kg.

As in the deadweight trade, the latest prices at GB auction markets have also remained unseasonally subdued. In week ended 27 November the all prime cattle average was unchanged on the week at 199.9p/kg.

Still on a downwards trend, the cull cow trade is unlikely to show any strengthening until the New Year when consumers’ attention is drawn back to fresh mince. In the latest week, at 227.7p/kg, the GB -04L cow price fell a further 3p on the week.

Cattle throughputs lower again in October

UK prime cattle slaughterings in October totalled 196,000 head, 1% lower compared with the corresponding month last year. Continuing recent trends, throughputs of steers were significantly lower on the year, being back 5%, while heifer throughputs were up 3%. Cull cow and adult bull throughputs continued the trend of recent months and were back 15% on the year at 67,600 head.

To no surprise, carcase weights during the month were again lower than in the corresponding month in 2012, exacerbating the lower cattle kill. As a result, total beef and veal production in the UK during October was almost 6% lower year on year at 87,200 tonnes.

Suckler cow numbers decline further in Wales

According to the June Survey of Agriculture the overall number of cattle and calves in Wales fell 2% on the year. Reflecting the continued concerns over profitability in suckler beef production, there was a 5% decline in the number of beef cows with offspring. There were increased numbers of both dairy and beef females aged between 1-2 years and those aged over two years with no offspring, which indicates that some rebuilding could occur. However, it is still likely that the majority of these may be destined for slaughter, rather than retained for breeding.

The total number of male slaughter cattle was almost 2% lower on the year. This was entirely as a result of a significant decline in male calves under one year of age, indicating no potential for an increase in supply in the longer term. However, the number of male cattle between one and two years of age was higher. This suggests a modest uplift in the availability of cattle for finishing in the remainder of this year and into early 2014.

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