Cattle and Sheep Weekly
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Cattle and Sheep Weekly

5 November 2021

Mixed bag for prime cattle prices, cows ease further

Cattle prices had a mixed week in the week ending 30 October. The GB all-prime average price eased by 0.4p to stand at 408.8p, 42p above the same week a year ago.

Overall, the average steer price remained stable on the week before at 410.6p/kg. An increase in Scottish prices appeared to balance out softer prices in England & Wales. Heifers on the other hand lost 1p on the overall GB average to 408.0p/kg. Young bulls also saw softer prices, down 1.4p overall to average 395.9p/kg.

Click here for more detailed price movements
Prime cattle kill at GB abattoirs was estimated to be 29,700 for the week, down 5% on the previous week and down 7% on the same week a year ago. Reports suggest that labour shortages remain in some plants. Slaughter for the year to 30 October is estimated to be 1.38 million head, down 4.4% on the equivalent period in 2020.

For cows, prices continued to fall. The overall GB deadweight cow price eased by 5.3p to average 260.0p/kg. This is 22p above the price from the same week a year ago. Estimated cow slaughter stood at 12,800 head for the week, up 2% on the week before but down 5% year-on-year.

Lamb prices continue to rise

Liveweight prices recorded a sharp increase this week, and now stand at the highest level since the end of July. During the week ending 3 November the GB liveweight NSL SQQ gained almost 10p, reaching 249.29p/kg. Prices gained throughout the week, with the growth noticeably stronger in the latter few days. On Wednesday the 3rd, the daily SQQ stood above 255p/kg.
While prices rose, throughputs took a tumble, totalling just 105,100 head for the week. Not only was this a 6% decline on the week, but a 19% year-on-year decrease. Throughput last year was unusually strong due to uncertainty surrounding the end of the Brexit transition period. However, throughputs are low in historic terms, not just compared to last year.
Meanwhile the GB deadweight NSL SQQ ticked up 3p in the week ending 30 October, standing at 533.2p/kg. Estimated kill for the week was 255,700 head, a slight dip week-on-week.

New Zealand lamb exports limited, but not by production or demand

New Zealand exports of sheep meat in the year-to August grew 1% on the previous year, to 288,700 tonnes. Looking at the months it is very much a tale of multiple chapters.
Exports in January were lower than year earlier levels reflecting the lower production recorded in the preceding few months.
  • In February there was a marked pick-up in volumes mostly due to the exceptionally low volumes exported to China in February 2020.
  • Volumes in April were up a little but down on pre-Covid volumes.
  • Through July and August volumes were slightly down on 2020, but this was a result of volumes playing catch up in July and August 2020 following the disruption during the early months of the pandemic.

Exports to the EU and UK have not followed the same trend as to the rest of the world. There have been fewer and smaller periods of growth. Strong prices in Asia have been attracting product away from Europe in recent years with freight prices helping to make the Asian market more attractive.

Looking forwards, the New Zealand lamb crop for the coming year is forecast to be up slightly although recent snow in certain regions may limit this increase. How much impact the late snowfall has on the lamb crop will not be clear for some time.

A watch point is that New Zealand frozen stores are being reported as being on the full side. In the short term this is unlikely to have much impact on export prices or volumes as the limiting factor to New Zealand lamb exports is currently shipping container availability. It has been said that at certain times shipping container availability has been at a third of its normal level. Industry reports suggest the additional costs currently facing the New Zealand supply chain are equivalent to New Zealand farmgate prices being circa 45NZ¢/kg higher than they currently are.

Halal opportunities for sheep farmers

Webinar: Halal opportunities for sheep farmers. We bring together farmers and opinion leaders from the Muslim community to discuss opportunities for sheep farmers in the halal market. Please register online or by emailing

New AHDB service offers bespoke farm business support

AHDB has launched a new Farm Business Review service to help 4,000 farmers and growers in England plan, prepare and prosper in the future. The free, independent service offers a combination of an online self-assessment tool, expert advice and peer support to help businesses prepare for the biggest agricultural policy shift in a generation.

The AHDB Farm Business Review service runs until February 2022, so farmers and growers are advised to register now in order to benefit.
Click here to find out more.

AHDB report dives deep into Australia trade deal

Our latest Horizon report quantifies the potential economic impact of the Australia trade deal on UK agriculture for the first time. The new report offers in-depth analysis of Australian agricultural production and trade, assessing its potential competitiveness in the UK marketplace and the opportunities for UK agri-food products. Read the report here.

News in brief

Sheep meat production in the EU has increased so far in 2021. Combined with an overall reduction in traded volumes, this suggests demand in the bloc may have fallen.

Brazil’s beef exports have grown year-on-year in the first nine months of 2021, driven by Chinese demand. However, China placed a ban on Brazilian beef in early September.
What could this mean for trade, and the UK market?

The FAO’s latest Food Price Index for October shows that global food prices are rising, but not for meat.


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