Competitive trade drives the marketplace

9th December 2011

The live auction ring has continued to show its true colours recently with a shortage of supply, of most categories of livestock, creating unprecedented competition, leading to the best trade many farmers have ever experienced. I have heard it said many times recently that it is nearly impossible to value livestock in this current rising climate, unless they are sold through the live auction ring. Why then would you not want to sell through the live ring?

During December last year we were all enjoying a fast trade that put a degree of confidence back into most livestock farmers, this December we are seeing further dramatic price rises, and if we look at the factors that are driving the trade - supply and demand - there is nothing short term to suggest that this will change.

Although national numbers, of both sheep and cattle, have continued to decline live auction rings are seeing a resurgence of support due to the trade that competitive bidding brings with it.

Last week prime lamb rings saw best export types selling at rates in excess of 260 p/kilo live weight (between 510 and 550p/kilo dead weight equivalent) with many markets reporting an overall SQQ price of over 212p/kilo. In comparison to the same week last year lambs are between £15 and £20 dearer. At the time of writing this article we are seeing this weeks lamb prices increase further.

Cull ewes are also considerably dearer on the year, by between £10 and £14 per head. Heavy ewes are averaging in the region of £87 and upland lightweight ewes £60.

The store lamb trade has easily increased proportionately in line with the prime lamb trade, with many lambs weighing less than 36 kilo's worth more as a store than they are in the prime lamb ring. Nicely bred continental cross store lambs regularly made in excess of £80 per head last week in the live ring.

Prime cattle, like the sheep, are seeing a very fast trade with most markets reporting a full ringside of buyers, which in turn results in keener competition. This week last year markets were reporting average prices in the region 140p/kilo, this week we are seeing market average prices, for steers and heifers, close to, or just over 200p/kilo.

Cull cows remain in short supply throughout Europe which has led to sharp increases in their market values. We have seen cull cow average prices increase by some 30p/kilo in the last 12 months.

Store cattle continue to increase in value with both steers and heifers seeing price rises of over £200 per head in the last year. It has now become commonplace to see stores reach values in excess of £1000, compared to last year when only a few would achieve such prices.

With demand continuing to outstrip supply and trade fluctuating on a daily basis it is extremely difficult to assess the true open market value of cattle and sheep, why not let open, transparent and competitive bidding determine that value for you, in a way that is fair to both the seller and the buyer, at your local livestock market, under the hammer.