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AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly

21 April 2014

EBLEX Cattle Weekly - 17 April 2014EBLEX Cattle Weekly - 17 April 2014

Processor caution continues to subdue trade

For another week the deadweight prime cattle trade generally eased, as sluggish demand, increased numbers forward and caution from processors continued to affect prices. In week ended 12 April, both overall steer and heifer values fell. In contrast, young bull prices rebounded slightly following a greater-thanaverage drop in the previous week. Overall, the all prime price fell by nearly another 2p to average 356.2p/kg. The increased overall throughputs were on the back of more heifers and young bulls coming forward, being up almost 550 and 350 head respectively on the week. In contrast, the estimated steer kill for the week fell by 300 head, which did little to prevent the price of R4L steers falling 1p on the week to average 366.7p/kg.

The cull cow market once again fared better, with demand reportedly remaining just ahead of supply, prices continued to firm. At 249.3p/kg, -O4L cow prices were up a penny on the week. Whilst still trading well below year-earlier levels, they have recovered 19p/kg since the low point of the year so far in early February. With the current fine weather, spring turn out is on the horizon in some areas. This may keep numbers tight in the coming months as producers look to add condition at grass in order to take advantage of better prices on offer for well-finished cows.

Beef and veal production higher in March

UK prime cattle throughputs in March were up 4% on the year at 154,000 head as all regions of the UK recorded higher slaughterings compared with a year earlier. Continuing the recent trend, heifer throughputs were up again, being 8% higher year on year. However, in a change to recent developments, and for only the second time since late 2011, steer throughputs were also higher on the year. In contrast, young bull throughputs were back 6%.

Adult cattle numbers were also higher than in March 2013, as producers may have taken advantage of better cow prices.

As expected, improved conditions have meant that carcase weights for all types of cattle were once again heavier than in the corresponding month last year. Combined with the increased throughputs, this meant that UK beef and veal production in March was up 8% on the year, at 69,100 tonnes.

As of December 2013, there was reportedly an increased number of cattle on the ground, as weaker market conditions gave little encouragement for producers to market cattle. These results indicated the potential for a modest increase in supplies of prime cattle for slaughter in the first half of 2014.

As some of these cattle have come forward, prime cattle slaughterings in the first three months of the year were 1% higher on the year at 490,500 head. Meanwhile adult cattle throughputs were broadly unchanged at 154,000 head. With higher slaughter weights boosting production further beef and veal production for the quarter was up 3% on the year at 221,100 tonnes.

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