Cattle trade shows tentative price recovery

The cattle trade has shown signs of a tentative recovery in the last fortnight after the plummeting prices of the spring.

The GB all-steers deadweight price rose 1.1p/kg to 328.3p/kg in the week ending 19 July and improved 0.3p/kg seven days before.

At the marts, the average price for all finished steers fell slightly to 174.2p/kg, after jumping 3.3p/kg a week earlier.

Quality Meat Scotland Head of Economics Services Stuart Ashworth said lower slaughter numbers were helping prices, though market sentiment remained fragile.

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“UK beef production in June is estimated to have been 2.5% higher than a year earlier – much lower than the 5% year-on-year increase in production seen in May,” he said.

“Provisional data from price reporting abattoirs suggests that prime cattle slaughter numbers have tightened further in July.”

Higher carcass weights were a significant part of the higher production, as GB slaughterings in June were 1.5% high on the year and the Northern Irish kill was almost 1% smaller.

Mr Ashworth said the lower numbers were likely to continue for some time, as calf registrations were down on the year for three quarters of 2013 and male cattle were being slaughtered at about 21 months on average.