Trade Talk - Bradley Towell – Prime cattle auctioneer McCartneys Worcester & Ludlow markets

23rd August 2021

At the time of writing (week commencing 9th August 2021), prime cattle trade appears to have reached another level. The past week has seen heifers topping at 296ppk and £1972, steers hitting 293ppk and £1978 and prime bulls achieving 280ppk and £2102. Whilst it is not unheard of for a top-grade butchers heifer, typically 480kg – 520kg, to achieve over the 300ppk mark, we are now experiencing prices in excess of 280ppk for cattle over 650kgs.

It is positively reassuring to see vendors with best quality cattle preferring to sell through the auction ring over deadweight and it is equally important to ensure a trade for standard quality cattle as well as the best. Auction marts across the country benefit from having customers who buy on quality and meat yield instead of the increasing red tape regulations implemented in the cattle sector. This is the reason why heavier cattle (680kgs+) are not penalised for heavier weight through the live ring and producers are achieving higher returns by focusing on finish and meat cover as opposed to handier weight cattle lacking finish. This has been evident in the prime bull section particularly with no penalties for bulls over 16 months.

The strong beef trade and good grass growth this year has been reflected in store cattle values across the country which is no surprise to most. Cull cows remain in tight supply with all grades consistently dear week after week. This is driven by strong demand and competition which ensures maximum returns from cull cows. It is disappointing to see some milk contracts preventing the sale of cull cows through the live ring which surely limits producers from achieving maximum returns?

Overall a positive outlook for the beef sector, providing a sensible and sustainable level can be achieved in the supply chain.