Cattle prices up, but show signs of stabilising

Cattle prices are showing signs of stabilising, although they are still rising at the moment, according to AHDB Beef & Lamb.

In the week ended 23 September, the overall deadweight cattle price average continued its upwards trajectory. Reports suggested booking queues for all types of cattle were still non-existent, particularly across England and Wales.

However, while the heat in the market is no doubt being stoked by solid demand for native bred cattle fitting specific supermarket schemes, some stability seemed to creep into other areas of the trade.

Unlike for much of the past few weeks, not all classes of prime cattle increased in price compared with the week earlier. While the GB all prime indicator was up a penny at 354.7p/kg, this was fuelled by notably higher steer prices only, particularly for those being slaughtered in the north.

R4L regional price gap

Overall steers moved up 2p on the week to 357.0p/kg, while those meeting R4L specification were up almost 7p at 374.6p/kg. The most significant trend to develop last week was the sizeable gap emerging for cattle fitting this specification between the different regions of GB.

In the northern region, having moved up 15p on the week R4L steers averaged 382.3p/kg. This brought them almost on par with prices being achieved across the border in Scotland and around 25p ahead of R4 steer averages in the other regions of GB, where prices were generally more stable.

Heifer prices

Heifer prices were relatively stable in all areas compared to last week. The overall GB average was back a penny at 357.8p/kg, while those meeting R4L specification were virtually unchanged week-on-week at 367.2p/kg. Prices for in-spec young bulls were firm with R3’s increasing 3p on the week to 347.8p/kg. However, the overall average also stabilised at 330.4p/kg.

The cow trade levelled on the week, the -O4L cow average came back a penny to 238.4p/kg. The fall of sterling following the Brexit referendum continues to boost British exports and margins. This provides an advantage to the domestic cow trade given its commodity nature and improved competitiveness on euro markets.

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