By FWi staff

CATTLE prices remain at their lowest levels since 1980,. although market prices have been up about 2.12p this week averaging 79.84p/kg.

“Prices should start to rise now as buyers seek cattle for the Christmas trade,” said economist Jane Connor of the Meat and Livestock Commission. “Prices had gone so low that they could only go upwards.”

Liveweight values for steers in September and October averaged 79.74p, down 17p in the same period of 1997.

Heifer and young bull prices took a harder fall than steers as the value of heifers plummeted to just over 76p/kg by the end of October. Young bulls fell from a September average of 83.64p/kg to 80.57p in October, noted the MLC: “The continued run of cold, wet weather has undoubtedly affected the quality of stock with auctioneers reporting that well finished animals are achieving above average prices.”

However, poorly finished heifers are proving particularly difficult to trade.

Total cattle prices

Auctioneer James Stephenson of Stephenson and Son, Yorkshire echoed the fact that that there is a shortage of quality cattle on the market. “However, prices have hardened over the last 10 days,” he said. “Demand was up this week, particularly for well-fleshed cattle.”

Mr Stephenson anticipates that this firming will continue to Christmas.