More cull cows onto market sees prices fall

Cull cow prices have eased back, having reached a record of 123.11p/kg for dairy-sired culls in March. That was 4.3% higher than in February and 20% higher than the same time last year.

Auction values fell to average 121.48p/kg in England and Wales in the week to 24 April, with grade one averages down by 5.2p to 150.43p/kg liveweight. Grade two cows eased to 138.08p/kg, with grade threes at 132.81p/kg and grade fours at 117.16p/kg.

Beef-sired culls averaged 140.59p/kg in March, up 4% on the month and 25% higher, year-on-year, said a report by DairyCo. The higher prices had brought forward greater numbers in March, when 6,355 dairy-sired culls were sold, compared to 6,015 the year before. Producers sold 4,927 beef-sired cull cows against 3,193 last year.

In contrast, UK cow slaughterings fell in March, to 39,000 head – 11% lower than the February kill and 8% down, year-on-year. Heifer slaughterings fell by 2000 to 62,000 head, including prime beef cattle. According to data from Defra, producers were finishing the cull cows to heavier weights, at 316.1kg a head compared to 314.4kg in February and 314.9kg in March 2011.

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