By Farmers Weekly staff
BEEF cattle finished to supermarket specification are still holding a strong trade as numbers tighten, and despite stiff competition from cheaper imported supplies.
Trade at Ludlow on Monday reflected the national trend of a slowing-down in the number of finished animals coming forward.
Entries were down by 100 head to just over 420, say auctioneers McCartneys.
The decline has been triggered as the last of the yarded cattle are marketed and those finished off grass continue to build.
This follows last springs poor weather, which has put grass cattle back by as much as a month, says auctioneer Clive Roads.
Buyers are still eager to secure the best entries and that has helped overall averages for steers and heifers at Ludlow to creep up 2p/kg on the week to average 96p/kg and 93p/kg, respectively.
Of particular note is the emergence of some deadweight buyers back at the ringside looking to buy cattle to maintain throughput.
This weeks MAFF slaughter figures highlight that current numbers are back by 2000 head a week for mid-July compared with last year.
That is mainly due to fewer steers being brought forward; in contrast, heifers remain almost static.
James Rowe of Axminster market, Devon, warns that more farm-assured stock is needed to satisfy demand from buyers supplying major retailers.
Although premiums for farm-assured stock are hard to pin down, auctioneers suggest more buyers vying for these cattle is helping stimulate demand.