Trade Talk January 2016

8th February 2016

Prime cattle numbers at Selby have been good in the first few weeks of 2016. Comparing the trade with this time last year the prices for clean cattle have seen steers similar or slightly back with heifers 10-12p/kg back on average with some better sorts more discounted than that. Best shaped continental cross heifers 480-550kg will achieve the best price per kilo most weeks with the best this week 259.5p

The price of bulls on average is similar but top prices are less. Heavier bulls are again adding up with best shaped continentals 700-750kg making 210-215p/kg on Wednesday. As these sorts show better returns we are seeing fewer smaller, smarter handy weight suckler bulls forward with producers adding more kilos. There are less bulls forward than this time last year a trend which began in the latter part of 2015 perhaps showing that more cattle have been castrated. Spring numbers will give a truer reflection as to whether this is the trend or not.

Returns with regards to profitability will certainly be tight for most beef producers so hopefully current prices can at least be maintained, however historically the second half of January/early February does see the trade under pressure with meat harder to sell.

Elsewhere at Selby the pig trade is certainly in the doldrums with the price of bacon weight pigs (86-104kg) on Wednesday 85p/kg on average with the best gilts at 100p compared with an average of 100p/kg on the same week last year, the difference on a 100kg pig is easy to work out and a hard price to take. Cheaper imports are a definite factor here. Cast sows are not faring much better with the current price of around 30p/kg around 5p back on the same time last year.

A recent conversation with a beef producing customer, during the course of which we reflected on the moderate state of affairs in most sectors of farming and probably the wet weather, ended with us both in better spirits when he said "Well, at least we are here to moan about it".

Let's hope for less to moan about in 2016.