Trade Talk by Graham Ellis

17th June 2016

With Colchester being the only weekly livestock market operating in the Eastern Counties, 2016 has seen a very disappointing beef trade. But at least the live auction system is supporting producers, enabling cattle to be sold with competition. 

We have no weight limits and grading is by the eye of the beast in front of the buyer, a fair and competitive way of trading.  It is still however very difficult when all buyers in the Eastern Counties are competing with very low priced boxed meat and weight limits at certain deadweight outlets.

The real problem that producers have at the present time is replacing cattle.  Historically, the West Country has been a source of many of the stores fattened in East Anglian yards. 

But with TB that is now extremely difficult. Store cattle in the Eastern Counties, which is mainly a four year testing area for TB, are dear as more and more buyers come to the area to buy stores.

We anticipate a rise in the finished cattle price as numbers tighten, although this is unlikely to be to the levels of 12 months ago. However, this is typical of this time of the year in this area. 

The prime sheep market is at similar levels to last year for hoggets, with new season lambs trading above 12 months ago.  There is strong demand for new season lambs weighing 38kg to 44kg, but lambs above that weight are difficult. Lower weight lambs would be better kept. There is a strong trade in the Eastern Counties for quality lambs and here in Colchester we have good support from family wholesalers who wish to attend and buy prime stock from the area.

It is anticipated that the lamb trade will remain firm for the next month or so and then it will very much depend on the Pound and how that reacts to the vote on Europe.  Without the European trade, transactions will certainly be less and that is a worry we all have. 

East Anglia is an area where farmers have an alternative to stock keeping. It needs dedication but at least with the ability to source reasonably priced feed it  should be possible to achieve an acceptable return for quality stock.

Graham Ellis

Stanfords, Colchester