Trade Talk - Cull Cows

23rd May 2014

By Auctioneer Mark Northcott, Frome Livestock Market

With the clean beef market in some turmoil since the beginning of the year and prices continuing to fall weekly, it was easy to fear the worst for the barren cow trade. Thankfully this has not been the case and barren cows continue to meet a strong demand.

Livestock markets lead the way on price and Frome is considered one of the top centres in the country. So far this year the barren cow trade has remained strong. Since the beginning of February the Friesian cow average at Frome has increased by at least 10% to around 110p/kg. The best meat cows are in demand and regularly topping 125p/kg and £900. The quality manufacturing and steaking cows are wanted and continue to meet a good trade generally from 100p/kg. Even the plainer sorts are selling well with only the very poor, imported and small cross bred cows meeting less interest. Suckler bred cows of all grades are in demand and generally average in excess of 125p/kg on a weekly basis at Frome. The very best Continental cross breds continue to meet a strong trade from 135p/kg to 155p/kg. The British bred Angus and Herefords cows are more plentiful of late but still selling well averaging at around 120p/kg. However current prices are obviously not on a par with the record levels seen last year, but 2013 trade was too strong to be sustainable. The best Friesian and Continental cows were selling to 196.5p/kg and overall averages were up to 139p/kg.

Frome also has one of the largest sales of cows on a weekly basis and the overall throughput at Frome has been well maintained year on year but the TB issue is having an impact on numbers. TB restricted sales have been introduced very successfully but obviously do not compensate fully for the numbers that are lost.

With regards to the barren cow trade going forward, demand and prices should stay at current levels helped by the ongoing strong demand for cow beef sourced from native bred and farm assured cows. The prospect of spring turn out will keep cow numbers tight in the short term and ensure a firm trade over the coming months.