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AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly

30 January 2015

EBLEX Cattle and Sheep Weekly - 30 January 2015EBLEX Cattle and Sheep Weekly - 30 January 2015

Cattle trade levels

In week ended 24 January, the prime cattle trade was broadly unchanged on the previous week. AHDB/EBLEX slaughtering estimates indicate that throughputs of prime cattle were around 300 head down on the week at 32,500 head. The levelling of prices suggests that the market is in some degree of balance at the present time, so the modest upwards pressure on trade of the year so far may have tailed off. However, the traditional pattern anticipated for this time of the year would be for some easing of prices, as consumer demand is subdued following
the holiday period. As yet, any slowdown in consumer demand does not appear to have had much of an impact on the trade. With the weather turning colder, it may be that the market continues to be supported.

Mirroring robustness in the finished cattle trade, store cattle prices have started the year firmly. With long-term supply still tight, demand for young stock, particularly suckler types with decent confirmation, is resulting in strong prices. Average prices for yearling Continental steers have been particularly firm, at almost £925 per head in the latest week they were around £75 dearer than in the final quarter of last year and £80 up on a year ago. Prices for Continental heifers are also doing well, particularly in the case of younger stock. Yearling Continental heifers averaged just over £800 per head in the latest week, up £115 on the year. Evidence of the interest in native-breed beef cattle is still clear and as with Continentals, younger Hereford cattle are in particular demand. In the latest week, at £670 per head, yearling steers were around £90 ahead on the year, while yearling heifers were around £120 dearer, at £530 per head. With the short term expectation that the UK beef market will be under less pressure this year than it was for much 2014, the possibility of firmer finished prices is looking more likely, which will give support to the store trade. However, with much still depending on how consumer demand performs, as always, making a profit from store cattle will ultimately depend on finishers accurately budgeting the price they can afford to pay for their stock and controlling their on-farm finishing costs.

Sharp fall in Irish slaughterings anticipated in 2015

Based on the latest forecasts from Bord Bia, a marked decline in cattle slaughterings in Ireland is expected this year. Consequently, as a result of the likely fall in production it is reasonable to expect some downturn in shipments to the UK. More details of how the Irish situation may influence the UK market can be found in the latest edition of Cattle and Sheep Update available on the EBLEX website later today.

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