Cattle prices continue to increase in the UK

The balance between supply and demand that has characterised the British cattle trade recently has continued in the latest week, according to the AHDB.

It says retail demand is reported to be faring well, particularly for specific products being sold under specialised retail schemes.

Reports suggest that cattle are being placed easily with processor requirements continuing to drive competition.

This is compounded by the fact that the recent bout of fine weather could well have meant that some UK farmers have been focusing on harvest activities rather than the selection of livestock.

Consequently, the AHDB reports that in week ended August 20, the average prime cattle price increased by another 3p on the week earlier to reach 345.3p/kg.

The measure has now strengthened 10p/kg over the past three weeks and over 35p since the low point in the year so far in April. It is now demonstrating a positive year-on-year uplift for the first time since October last year.

AHDB says steer and heifer prices both continued their consistent march upwards. Carcases meeting target R4L specification secured price rises of 2p and 3p, respectively, on the week earlier, steers averaged 359.0p/kg and heifers 357.6p/kg.

It says young bull prices have almost kept pace with their steer and heifer counterparts, the average price has moved up 27p since April to surpass the 330p/kg threshold for the first time since early October last year.

Store Trade

Following the evolution in the finished market, the AHDB says the store cattle trade at auction marts has been in buoyant mood over the summer so far, which it says is somewhat unusual.

Average prices of Hereford cross cattle of all ages were higher in July than in April, with those two years of age up around £100 per head, over the three months.

Older Continental store cattle have also increased in price over the period, however, the price of yearlings is lower, possibly a reflection of the recent changes to processors’ specification, particularly around carcase weights.

Cow prices

Meanwhile, cull cow prices were stable last week, according to the AHDB.

The overall average price came back a penny on the week to 225.1p/kg, while those grading -O4L moved up a penny to 240.6p/kg.

In the context of seasonally increasing numbers across other member states, this stability is still somewhat positive.