The Livestock Auctioneers' Association Limited (LAA)

Trade Talk, Drew Patrick, Hexham Auction Mart

22nd February 2021

I write this as a good old snowstorm hits Northumberland. Straw and fodder shortages have caused colossal bedding costs this winter. This has a knock-on effect, with more producers marketing stock slightly earlier than usual. Despite this, both the sheep and cattle sectors have seen a positive lift in trade this past couple of months.

Prime hoggs have kicked on post Brexit, apart from a slight drop in mid-January, but have lifted back up with interest into February. Last week’s (02/02/21) prime hoggs went on to average 263.4p/kg with an SQQ of 275.2p/kg with a further lift in prices forecast for the next few weeks.

An increase in trade, combined with a shortage of straw, has seen a higher throughput of store cattle and cast cows. Trade has lifted nicely since December with an apparent shortage of beef being laid to blame. The closure of eating houses could be a blessing in disguise, as these outlets rely on a larger proportion of imported beef.

A dramatic rise in cast cow trade over the past month has seen average prices lifting 20p/kg. Good, well finished Limousin cows last week sold to a high of 207.5p/kg. The highest increase in trade here at Hexham has been seen in the leaner boning cows, where a rise of 40-50p/kg can be seen since the start of January.

Confidence in the store cattle ring has been observed, especially for the younger ¾ beef bred type stores and older, short keeping store cattle. Last week, strong, forward steers cashed in at £1490.00, and some 10-month-old Limousin x steers selling to £1190.00.   

Moving into March, one of our annual highlights is our special sale of store cattle and suckled calves (05/03/21), followed by the Young Farmers over-wintered store cattle competition (12/03/21).