Store cattle ease £50-£100 after Irish-led deadweight fall

Yarding cattle values have been pressured over the past month following a 50p/kg gulf opening between Irish and British factories’ deadweight quotes.

Two-year-old continental-cross store cattle averaged £1,241 a head nationally in the week ending 8 July, which was £132.75 (9.6%) down on the highest week’s trading in early May.

AHDB data shows prices peaked at 1,374 a head in May before grass availability concerns led to limited demand and tighter bidding budgets in some regions.

See also: Beef markets come under pressure from cheaper imports

But despite rain coming in July and grass recovering across the country, falling deadweight prices are tightening finisher margins and taking confidence out of the store cattle market.

Falling deadweight

Ireland’s food board, Bord Bia, has forecast a slight increase in Irish cattle supplies in the second half of 2023 after tight supplies in the first half.

English and Irish average beef prices were on par in the new year, but sat at about 480p/kg and 430p/kg, respectively, for the week ending 8 July. Such a gap is allowing UK retailers to use Irish imports to ease supply worries cost-effectively.

This has resulted in a huge spread of base prices around the country. Some firms are still offering 475p/kg and premiums for large, even loads, while some are nearer 460p/kg.

Falling base prices will be a relief to processors. Trade sources have told Farmers Weekly there is “no margin” in deadweight beef prices at £5/kg during the cost-of-living crisis.

Store trade

Earlier in the month, the falling deadweight prices had been slow to pressure store values, particularly for higher-grading cattle. 

Hereford reported steers to £1,730 and £1,780, with plenty of business done between £1,500 and £1,660 as steer trade averaged 275p/kg and heifers levelled at 254p/kg.

But as 5p/kg has continued to be taken from base prices each week, the auctioneers expect store cattle to become “harder work”.

How continental-cross store cattle prices have changed – March compared with early July


18-month-old steer

18-month-old heifer

Two-year-old steer

Two-year-old heifer











Change (£)





Change (%)