Cattle and Sheep Weekly
Click here if you are having trouble viewing this message.

Cattle and Sheep Weekly

19 November 2021

GB prime cattle prices tick up again

In the week ending 13 November, the GB average deadweight prime cattle price crept up by another 2p to average 411.3p/kg. The measure was 39p above the price recorded for the same week a year ago, and 58p above the five-year average price.

Heifers enjoyed the largest price growth on the week, with the overall average price up 2.9p to 410.9p/kg. Overall, steers also recorded an uplift, of 1.6p to 412.9p/kg. Steer and heifer prices saw growth in all reporting regions of the country. Young bulls on the other hand lost ground, with the overall average down 2p to 395.9p/kg.

Click here for more detailed price breakdowns
Prime cattle throughputs at GB abattoirs were estimated to be 29,500 for the week, down 4% (1,100 head) on the week before, but 15% (5,200 head) below the same week a year ago. Typically, we see increasing numbers of cattle coming through at this time of year for Christmas orders. We are yet to see as much uplift in throughputs as there has been in previous years, so this is likely contributing to continuing price strength. There are some reports of staff issues in some plants, but lower supplies will also be contributing.

For deadweight cows, declines continued to be softer than in previous weeks, with the overall average price down 1.3p to 257.7p/kg. Cows of –O4L spec also eased 1.3p to average 281.0p/kg. Throughputs of cows at GB abattoirs was estimated to be 12,900 head for the week, down 1% on the week before but down 12% year-on-year.


Liveweight lamb prices slip but still strong

After rocketing up last week, liveweight prices dropped back slightly this week, although they remain high compared to a fortnight ago. In the week ended 17 November the GB liveweight NSL SQQ slipped 3.9p, to 265.17p/kg. The quote remains more than 55p higher than at the same point last year.
Strong prices last week encouraged numbers forwards, but with prices slipping so did throughputs at auction markets. In total 121,000 head came forwards, 10% fewer than last week, but this was still noticeably more than during other recent weeks.

Meanwhile, deadweight prices reflected the previous liveweight week’s price developments. In the week ended 13 November the GB deadweight NSL SQQ jumped up to very near the £6/kg mark, to stand at 597.4p/kg.
Reflecting the increase in liveweight numbers last week, the estimated kill increased 12% week-on-week to 247,000 head. This was however some 46,000 head below the same week last year.

Strength in EU sheep prices

Prices in the UK for finished sheep have been high, and rising again recently. Throughputs at UK abattoirs are down 11% year on year, and market reports suggest the supply side is tight. Demand for store lambs here is reported to be strong, with finishers optimistic for high prices in Q1 2022.

UK exports of lamb suffered in the weeks immediately following Brexit but began to recover in February and March. However, high farmgate prices here, reduced the competitiveness of exported product on the EU market, and export volumes began to fall again during the summer.
More recently, deadweight sheep prices in France have begun to pick up again. Spain is an important supplier to France with exports higher in the year to date, perhaps filling the gap left by lower British volumes. We are now past the annual peak for this Spanish trade with France, which is in spring, and so volumes are now at a lower level. Farmgate prices in Spain have rallied, and this may be providing strength in France, and by extension to prices this side of the English Channel.

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.

News in brief

During September, UK exports of fresh and frozen sheep meat totalled 6,500 tonnes, 16% lower than a year ago. Imports during the month recorded a 38% year-on-year decrease, to 2,500 tonnes.

Total lamb volumes sold at retail fell by 11.1% year-on-year in the 12 weeks ending 31 Oct 2021. Compared to two years ago, total lamb volumes are down only 1.3%. Primary lamb declined by 9.7% in volume. All primary cuts are in year-on-year decline, with many seeing decline versus 2019.

During the same period,
total beef volumes sold at retail declined by 6.4%, with primary down by 10.6% and processed down by 5.1%. Beef volumes continue to track below 2019 levels, down 2.0% versus pre-pandemic. Year-on-year losses for primary are still driven by mince, which is now lower in volumes than pre-pandemic levels, with declines of 3.1% on 2019. Steaks and stewing are also now declining compared to 2019.

Fertiliser prices continue to climb. The latest fertiliser price data shows steep rises in ammonium nitrate prices.
We take a look at what’s driving this increase, and how farmers can manage costly nitrogen fertilisers.

Is bioethanol demand adding fuel to feed grain prices? Recent US bioethanol demand has been strong. With an average of 36% of US maize used for ethanol over the past two marketing seasons, strong demand supports Chicago maize prices. This in turn strengthens the wider feed grain complex, adding support to UK feed grains.

Throughout summer 2021, Covid-19 restrictions were eased and foodservice re-opened at a reduced capacity. With a later than usual start to the hot summer weather and greater option to eat out, the number of barbecues during 2021 declined versus 2020.
But, did this affect the sales of red meat and dairy?

The UK and India are due to start negotiating a free trade deal. Here, we consider the implications for agriculture.

Continental meats accounted for 15% of value and 12% of volumes of sliced cooked meat sales over the 52 weeks to 5 September 2021, according to Kantar.

Livestock prices are rising almost everywhere. Follow these links to see the latest developments in
global cattle prices and global sheep prices.


Meet the team

For market intelligence about the beef and lamb industry contact


Further publication of the trade data is prohibited, unless expressly permitted by IHS Maritime & Trade.


This publication and its content is produced by the AHDB Market Intelligence team whose quality management systems are certified to ISO 9001:2015