Livestock throughputs at GB auction markets rose sharply in the first three months of the year compared with the same period in 2010.

Prime cattle numbers were up by almost 6%, to 85,000 head, with heifer numbers up by 5%, steers by 3%, and young bulls up by 12%, says a report by AHDB Meat Services. Prime cattle prices in March were 9p/kg higher than a year ago, averaging 157.2p/kg liveweight. Cull cow numbers also rose markedly, with beef-bred cows up by almost 50% and March prices averaging a record 119.3p/kg liveweight.

Lamb throughputs were similar to last year, at 1.5 million head, but cull ewe numbers were up 20%, to 410,000, the report says. “A reluctance to keep unproductive ewes on farm as a result of high feed costs, combined with firm prices, is likely to be the main driver.” Old season lambs averaged 208.2p/kg liveweight in March, 21p/kg up on the year. Cull ewes averaged £80 a head in March, up £20 since January.

Although only a very small proportion of pigs were sold through live markets, throughputs rose by almost 40%, year-on-year. Prices averaged 100.8p/kg liveweight in March, up 3p/kg on the year.

Market report