A welcome and expected lift in barren cow values has been reported this month as processors seek cheap cuts and mince to supply households on tight January budgets.
Trade has lifted to meet an increase in barren dairy cows marketed from autumn calving-biased herds, lifting ungraded dairy cows to 89-90p/kg across Great Britain last week.
Overall, the GB barren cow average settled at 100.6p/kg for the week ending 19 January and 103p/kg last week (26 January) after a period of 15 weeks below 100p/kg.
A strong showing of 67 barren cattle hit an overall average of 91p/kg (£597 a head) at Northallerton last week (23 January), where more dairy cows are being marketed.
Beef cows levelled at 114.8p/kg and dairy animals made 84.1p/kg, with auctioneer Giles Drew seeing a lift of 15-20p/kg over a month ago and stock in good condition.
“Things have improved a lot since Christmas but that is the usual trend into January and February,” Mr Drew told Farmers Weekly, citing the increased demand for minced beef as a driver for higher cow prices.
“We have more clients around the ring at the moment, both for feeding and killing cows, of which 30% of the younger and leaner end of the culls go for feeding.
“This demand has lifted prices; even the better end is 10p/kg higher than the better end was before Christmas.”
He said that Farm Assured (Red Tractor) cattle were making a premium of 10p/kg, depending on the type of cow.
Prices lifted 14p/kg this month at Thainstone, where auctioneer Tim McDonald hopes to see further increases.
“Fleshy cull cows with good shape that have been fed are required but sellers should be careful to present them in clean condition to attract a premium price,” said Mr McDonald.
Last week’s (24 January) sale saw 193 beef cows average 117.4p/kg (+1.2p/kg on the week), topping at 154.1p/kg and £1,510 a head.
Seven dairy cows averaged 93.6p/kg (up 3.1p/kg on the week), topping at 110.2p/kg and £755.
Other stand-out animals included Limousins to 151.3p/kg and 143.4p/kg and Simmentals to 150p/kg, 140.4p/kg and 140p/kg.
Angus cows topped at 145.3p/kg and a Charolais made 145.3p/kg.
Friesian cows hit 105.6p/kg, 100.7p/kg and 97.9p/kg, while eight bulls levelled at 111.9p/kg; back 7p/kg on the week.