Calf averages have been propelled beyond £3/kg at times by deadweight beef base prices around 420p/kg and liveweight calls of £1,800-£2,000 for prime cattle in the live ring.
Many saleyards have seen trade lift 30-40p/kg or more on the year for six-month-old, weaned calves – a rise of 13-15% on the year.
But escalating costs going into winter have made some buyers cautious, creating a two-tier trade at times with some cattle looking “well bought”.
An entry of 270 calves levelled at 302p/kg (£1,095 a head) for steers and 317p/kg (£1,020) for heifers at the October Bishops Castle and District Quality Cattle Association sale (21 October).
This is a lift of 41p/kg (£140 a head) for steers and 37p/kg (£70 a head) for heifers on the year.
James Evans, Halls director and store cattle auctioneer, said rising input costs may affect bidding power next year.
“People are coming to the sales having sold cattle for a good trade,” said Mr Evans. “The market is rising, and the last cattle purchased look well bought, as finished cattle are making £2,000 a head. This is why we are seeing £3/kg for calves.”
Mr Evans said an entry of 140 E- and U-grade-type pure Limousin and Limousin-cross British Blue steer and heifer calves from one farm levelled at 320p/kg.
Auctioneers and vendors were a little disappointed by trade at the Exmoor Suckled Calf Rearers Association sale, which reported an average of 247p/kg (unchanged on the year) for steers and 215p/kg (down 7p/kg) for heifers (1-2 November).
Steer trade was solid, but heifer trade was flat said auctioneers Peter Huntley and Gethin Rees. Numbers were up 18.4% on the year at 1,325-head.
Steers averaged 305kg, lighter than last year’s 312kg average, following a very wet autumn.
Charolais and Limousin steers under 300kg liveweight with good shape made about 280p/kg and heifers topped at 302p/kg.
Older store cattle (15-24 months) have been in greater demand at Hereford in recent weeks following increased demand from finishers who have now caught up with field work.
This has put £80-£100 on the best yarding cattle, said auctioneer Greg Christopher.
The first October sale of 735-head saw steers average 243p/kg and heifers average 232p/kg. The second sale saw steers lift to 244p/kg and heifers average 236p/kg, about 33-36p/kg on the year.
Steer cattle average at Stirling United Auctions on Monday (1 November) as younger weaned bullocks up to 300kg topped at 316p/kg and up to 350kg topped at 297p/kg.
How much higher Great Britain’s steer deadweight average was up on the year at 410p/kg (AHDB)
Drop in the number of prime cattle slaughtered in Ireland for first 42 weeks of the year compared to the same period in 2020 (Bordbia)