The Livestock Auctioneers' Association Limited (LAA)

Trade Talk - Drew Patrick, Hexham Auction Mart

6th July 2020

At the beginning of the Coronavirus crisis, we did see stock entries fall in livestock markets, but this has since resulted in larger throughput of numbers now in May and June, especially in the store cattle section here at Hexham.

Our loyal weekly purchasers at Hexham must be commended for adhering to all the social distancing measures that have been put in place.

This will be a result of tightening beef supply making processors short of prime cattle, and with the lockdown and closure of the retail industry, mainstream abattoirs reduced kills and volumes in cold stores. The addition of a weakened pound sterling has reduced beef imports. 

The continual reduction in the national suckler herd over the last decade is also starting to have an affect with fewer suckler bred cattle on offer. I do believe this will continue to be an issue, with more suckler herds being dispersed, but I do hope this recent uplift in trade will help suckler producers.

This recent lift in deadweight cattle price, the late surge in late spring grass growth and the fact there are fewer suckler bred cattle on the market has worked out favourably for vendors.

With store cattle trade taking a rise of £150-200 per head from the end of April to the middle of June, it has been very noticeable at Hexham that finishers are willing to pay a premium for better bred suckler cattle, whether they be Native or Continental bred.

Last week’s sale highlights included twenty month old Simmental x steers selling to a high of £1330 but the most noticeable increase in trade over this recent period is in the yearling cattle where we’ve seen quality yearling Lim x heifers sell to £1290.  

We’ve also seen an increase in numbers and trade for cast cows at Hexham this last six weeks.

Sheep trade throughout the spring has been strong throughout all classes and this confidence was obvious in May and early June, with very good weekly entries of ewes and hoggs with lambs at foot, meeting exceptional trade, up on the year. Many hoggs and lambs regularly selling between £100-110/life.

Prime spring lamb trade has been surprisingly strong through late May and June, especially when there seems to be a larger lamb crop this year. A weaker pound has opened new export opportunities for our abattoirs.

This has seen a strong trade for light lambs, and has encouraged producers to get lambs away sooner than usual. This can only help later in the year when the annual glut of lambs comes onto the market. Brexit hasn’t had the negative effect as many may have thought!

As we move into July, the store lamb season looms, with the opening sale at Hexham being held on Friday 10th of July, and will run weekly from there on.