The Livestock Auctioneers' Association Limited (LAA)

Trade Talk from Alastair J Brown FdSc FLAA, Senior Auctioneer, Bletsoes, Thrapston

13th December 2021

Fatstock shows thrive in the live market

It is that time of year when most auctioneers hold their annual Christmas Fatstock Show and Sales, to show the best of our stock to include cattle, sheep and pigs. Every year it proves what power the live weight marketing system has, with local butchers, wholesalers and even some major processors all competing around the ringside to purchase the quality finished stock British Farmers proudly produce, to display in their shop windows.

This year has seen more producers moving back to the live auctions. More sheep were entered earlier this year, and there has been a shortfall in numbers killed, in fact recorded at 12% less than previous years. The recent month has seen processors trying to secure their supermarket and export market orders causing a massive increase in lamb prices, with year-on-year prices up over 50pence per kilo on average, or approximately twenty pounds plus per head.

Many lambs this year have been unable to be finished on grass, therefore they have been sold as stores, in doing this let’s hope that the demand is as good for the hogget season, as it has just shifted the remaining sheep numbers to next year.

Cattle numbers are in short supply which means increased prices year-on-year, with prices of calves up by 30% from last year. Store cattle are up in the sale ring by £150 - £200 per head and the finished cattle are seeing prices grossing in the high teens. With pressures from TB, numbers will continue to decline, which may please the vegans and the environmentalists, but supply and demand will no doubt increase the cost for the consumer. With high demand will that bring the cattle back in to the live ring, only 13% are sold in the live ring now, could we see a U-turn in marketing?