Sharp rise in stock numbers through auction markets

Livestock throughputs at GB auction markets rose sharply in the first three months of the year compared with the same period in 2010.

Prime cattle numbers were up by almost 6%, to 85,000 head, with heifer numbers up by 5%, steers by 3%, and young bulls up by 12%, says a report by AHDB Meat Services. Prime cattle prices in March were 9p/kg higher than a year ago, averaging 157.2p/kg liveweight. Cull cow numbers also rose markedly, with beef-bred cows up by almost 50% and March prices averaging a record 119.3p/kg liveweight.

Lamb throughputs were similar to last year, at 1.5 million head, but cull ewe numbers were up 20%, to 410,000, the report says. “A reluctance to keep unproductive ewes on farm as a result of high feed costs, combined with firm prices, is likely to be the main driver.” Old season lambs averaged 208.2p/kg liveweight in March, 21p/kg up on the year. Cull ewes averaged £80 a head in March, up £20 since January.

Although only a very small proportion of pigs were sold through live markets, throughputs rose by almost 40%, year-on-year. Prices averaged 100.8p/kg liveweight in March, up 3p/kg on the year.

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