Cattle and Sheep Weekly
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Cattle and Sheep Weekly

22 October 2021

Autumn rain dampens cattle prices

Over the past few weeks, prime cattle prices have faced some pressure. In general, supply remains tight with fewer animals on the ground. With feed prices high, some farmers are trying to reduce the winter housing period this year which may impact the availability of finished animals. We are now entering the Christmas buying period for cattle which should mean demand increases.

In the week ending 16 October, the GB all prime average cattle price stood at 407.7p/kg, down -0.8p week-on-week. Despite having dropped 2.5p in the past three weeks, the measure stands 40p above year-earlier levels.
Estimated kill for the week ticked up slightly to 31,000 head. Although increasing, kill numbers remain on the low side.

As we move into the winter period cow prices do typically come under pressure with supplies increasing. With high feed prices, farmers are most likely wanting culls away sooner rather than later. During the most recent week, the GB overall cow price fell 3.5p, to 267.6p/kg. Although without doubt falling, the price does continue to track at a strong level.

Another steady week for liveweight lamb prices

In the week ending 20 October, the GB NSL SQQ averaged 234.2p/kg, 0.75p lower than the week before. The measure remains nearly 39p above the price recorded at the same point a year ago.

Estimated throughputs at GB auction marts totalled 116,300 for the week, 6% fewer than the week before and 3% fewer than the same week last year.
Deadweight sheep prices gained ground in the week ending 16 October, with the GB deadweight SQQ up 5.7p from the week before to average 528.3p/kg. Kill for the week was estimated to be 250,100 head, 3% higher than the week before but 6% lower year on year.

UK beef and lamb production remain lower in September

According to the latest Defra figures, 160,600 prime cattle were slaughtered during September in the UK. The kill level was largely stable compared to August, but 5% lower than the same month a year ago. Overall beef production for the month fell 6% to 73,600 tonnes.

Based on cattle population data, supplies of prime cattle were expected to be tighter. Reflecting this, prime cattle throughputs in September were 3% below the five-year average. Steers and young bulls showed the greatest decline (-6%), while heifer kill fell by 4%. Carcase weights were 1% (3kg) heavier on average than a year ago.
During September, UK sheep kill was exceptionally low for the time of year. Lamb kill stood at just over 1 million head, a 16% year-on-year decline. Meanwhile, ewe kill dropped 15%, to 108,000 head.

Indications from the Defra England June survey suggest that the lamb crop this year has reduced by 3-4% once we consider lambs slaughtered before the 1 June. These are still provisional though, and full UK results won’t be available until December.

Total UK sheep meat production during September stood at 23,000 tonnes. In the year-to September production totalled 190,000 tonnes, down 25,000 tonnes (11%) on the previous year.

News in brief

UK exports of fresh and frozen sheep meat declined 18% on the year to 6,300 tonnes, according to HMRC data for August. Meanwhile, UK sheep meat imports grew 8% for the month.

trade of beef remained in year-on-year growth in August, according to data from HMRC. Exports rose 7% year-on-year, while imports were 16% higher than a year ago.

There were 1.72 million cattle in Scotland on 1 June according to the
latest government survey results, up 0.5% on the same point a year ago. The number of sheep in Scotland stood at 6.8 million head, up 1.6% year-on-year.

Butchers enjoyed a strong 2020, as many shoppers chose to avoid big stores and visit their local high street. However,
pre-pandemic shopping habits have crept back in over the past few months, with butcher sales falling back below average.

Halloween and bonfire night celebrations begin next week, and both events have the potential to
ignite a spark in red meat and dairy sales.


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