Prime cattle prices are experiencing the typical pre-Christmas lift across the UK and remain 15p/kg ahead of last year, with steers and heifers at about 367p/kg.  

Lamb values have also been buoyant going into the Christmas period, with average prices for Great Britain hitting 180p/kg on the better selling days of the advent season.

These prices come from AHDB Beef & Lamb figures, which show a steady rise in deadweight steer prices through November to about 365p/kg after an October price dive.

Cull ewe prices have stayed close to last year’s levels since August and started December at about 57p/kg, while cull cows have flatlined at 231p/kg (35p/kg up on the year) after falling 20p/kg from midsummer highs.

Dumfries

Numbers swelled for the Christmas sale at Dumfries last week (8 December) as 1,388 prime lambs went under the hammer. There was keen demand for heavier lambs: 17 lambs over 52kg averaged 165.4p/kg.

Lighter lambs were 15p/kg back on the week, however, at 169p/kg for the 32-39kg bracket.

Beltex lambs

Claiming the prime lamb championship were a pair of Beltex lambs from Gillesbie Farms, which made £130 © Robert Smith

The day’s overall championship was awarded to Gillesbie Farms, Boreland, with a pair of 50kg Beltex lambs making £130, bought by judge Norman Hall, Frasers Butchers, Stranraer.

Prime cattle were up 61p/kg, averaging 227p/kg for a showing of 38, with strong demand lifting heifers 17p/kg.

The day’s highlight was a 535kg British Blue-cross heifer from Niall Goldie and Ben Radley, which hit 360p/kg to gross £1,926 and take the championship. In reserve was a 795kg Limousin-cross bullock from Billy Boyd, Terregles, grossing £2,305 at 290p/kg.

(C&D Auction Marts)

Gisburn

Prime steer and heifer entries doubled at Gisburn on Thursday (7 December), but an overall 33% lift in throughput didn’t dampen prices – which were up 23.5p/kg, with steers averaging 214p/kg and heifers averaging 226p/kg.

Claiming the championship was a 570kg heifer from JE and G Burrow, Skipton, and bred by John Stephenson, Bordley, which was knocked down to butcher Tom Wood for 500p/kg.

In reserve was a 558kg heifer from Clare Cropper, Long Preston, who also claimed the traditional breed prize with a Hereford. Her reserve knocked down to Luke Swales, Knavesmire Butchers, York, for £2,064 at 370p/kg.

An entry of 843 lambs (25% up on the week) levelled at about 5.5p/kg dearer, and 105 cull ewes were sharply higher, up £17 a head to gross £77.

(Richard Turner & Son)

Darlington

High-quality stock and strong buyer interest lifted beef prices at Darlington’s Christmas sale on Thursday (7 December), although lamb prices were lower as lighter lambs flooded on to the market to push prices down by 3.5p/kg.  

A larger yarding of 2,602 lambs hit an SQQ of 174.7p/kg, while the best end of lambs saw a stronger trade at £2 to £3 a head dearer.

Topping lamb prices at 231p/kg was R Valks, followed by JC Simpson, who saw calls of 222p/kg and 220p/kg – which was matched by J Gilson.

The day’s champion beef offering was a Limousin steer from JL Marks, Gilly Flatts Farm, who saw a 445p/kg bid grossing £2,149 from local butchers H Taylor & Sons.

Heather and Jim Marks also took the reserve championship with a British Blue heifer that made 370p/kg at £1,912, selling to W Piper, Houghton Le Spring.

(Darlington Farmers Auction Mart)