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AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly

24 August 2015

AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly - 24 August 2015AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly - 24 August 2015

Cattle prices continue to ease

For the week ended 15 August, cattle prices for all categories continued to decrease. Steer prices saw the smallest decline during the week, with the overall steer price falling by 2p to 346.5p/kg. Although steers that graded R4L fared slightly better, prices still dropped by less than a penny to 358.4p/kg. Meanwhile, prices for young bulls and heifers fell by between 3p and 4p/kg. Overall, this resulted in a prime cattle average price of 343.3p/kg, a fall of 3p on the previous week. The situation was even less favourable for the cow trade, with cow prices 7p/kg lower compared to the previous week, at 209.5p/kg.

It seems that demand for beef during the holiday period is continuing to be somewhat subdued, with weekly throughputs of prime cattle back by 2,000 head compared to the middle of July. This has been partially offset by an increase in cow slaughterings during the same period, probably largely attributable to the difficulties in the dairy sector. This increase in slaughterings appears to be having an impact on processor demand for cows though, with cow prices down by 30p/kg in the last four weeks. Going forward, further increases in throughputs of cows could have an impact on prime cattle prices in the absence of a significant change in demand.

Across the water in Ireland the situation appears to be similar, with steer and heifer prices both back by as much as 25c/kg in the last three weeks, despite throughputs for the year to date being down four per cent compared to the same period last year. The current weakening in prices is attributed to softer market conditions internationally. Revenues from fifth quarter/offal products are reportedly coming under increased pressure in recent weeks, which is attributed to the Chinese economy slowing down. This is cited as one of the main reasons for the fall in Irish cattle prices, which may fall below €4/kg in the coming weeks. According to Bord Bia, the value of hides has fallen by 50 per cent in the last 12 months.

Liveweight lamb trade declines while deadweight market is up

The GB lamb trade saw a further decline in the week ended 19 August despite numbers being marginally back on the previous week.

The GB SQQ was down by 5p on the previous week at 145.5p/kg, leaving it 17p lower than the same week in 2014. This fall comes despite lower numbers coming forward, compared to the week earlier. Price falls were more notable towards the end of the week, with the GB SQQ on Wednesday 19 August down 6p on the week earlier at 141.5p/kg as numbers were up.

Throughputs at GB auction marts in the week were down one per cent on the previous seven days. This fall could be due to higher numbers being marketed last week following the No Lamb Week campaign, while the falling prices could have led some producers to hold back their lambs in search of better prices. Throughputs were up one per cent on the same period in 2014. The percentage of lambs falling within the SQQ weight band was 79 per cent, six per cent lower than that seen in the same week last year.

In the week ended 15 August deadweight prices increased for the second week running. The deadweight SQQ increased by 3p on the week at 341.7p/kg to now be 39p below 2014 levels. This increase follows the price rise in ‘No Lamb Week’, and comes despite estimates suggesting that more lambs were slaughtered.

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