Cull cow prices have held up relatively well this year, despite a sharp rise in slaughterings.
The dairy depression is finally translating into more culling, which has pushed up numbers sharply.
In the last four weeks, 37,000 cows have been sold as culls, combining deadweight and liveweight – up 14% on the same period last year.
In the first quarter of this year, cow slaughterings rose to the highest level since 2006.
But values have not fallen as much as supply has surged.
The British liveweight cow average was 103.4p/kg in the week ending 7 May – down 11p/kg on the year but up from 82p/kg at the start of January.
The deadweight average has also stayed fairly flat, at 196.3p/kg last week.
Currency has been the main help, according to levy board reports. The cull price is linked into EU commodity cow beef market, so sterling’s weakening against the euro will have cushioned the impact of higher numbers.
“In the medium term, there may well be a risk to this status quo should cow cullings intensify, given there are a few indications of increasing milk prices this year,” AHDB Beef & Lamb senior analyst Debbie Butcher. “The uncertainty around a potential Brexit could lead to some further weakening of the currency. This could give some support to the cow trade.”