By FWi staff

DEADWEIGHT cattle prices have remained firm over the holiday period and traders say signs of any expected decline have yet to materialise.

Many processors are struggling at present with the higher prices and their margins have fallen through the floor.

Values have inched up on the back of strong beef sales with few stocks left over following Christmas, said Bob White of ABP.

The market will remain strong over the next two weeks he forecast if demand continues to be strong.

After a sharp decline at the end of last summer deadweight values have now almost recovered to levels seen this time last year.

Prices never really fell away as the liveweight ones did, due to the better quality of cattle coming forward, said Mr White.

“There is a general perception that selling deadweight irons out the peaks and troughs that are experienced at livestock markets,” he said.

Demand has kept pace with supply, said Tim Bastable of Midland Meat Packers. “And surprisingly, beef prices have been maintained,” he added.

A major factor behind the higher prices is that fewer cattle are available than was expected, he said. Prices have run in line with the lack of numbers.

But Mr Bastable was unsure about what was going to happen in the next couple of weeks. “The trend is that prices fall.”