Aberdeen and Northern Marts Q1 livestock market report

04/04/2019

Aberdeen and Northern Marts is reporting on the livestock trading environment covering the period from January to the end of March 2019.

 
Continued uncertainty in the industry and the collapse in prime cattle values has had an impact on trade for store cattle in the first quarter of the year, with prices back by 16p per kg on the year.
 
The weekly sale of store cattle on March 15 saw bullocks cash in at 218.6p, while heifers levelled at 211.2p.
 
Aberdeen and Northern Marts head of livestock, John Angus, said that despite heifers being back by 16p per year on last year’s strong trade, it was heavier types of store cattle that were being most affected on the back of the prime cattle trade.
 
On a more promising note, Mr Angus commented that the weather outlook looked more positive than what it did this time last year, with grass growing well for young store cattle to head straight outside.
 
He said: “Our busiest season for selling store and breeding cattle is just around the corner and we hope to sell 10,000 store cattle in the next six weeks. I believe the demand for store cattle will continue to grow as the weeks go in. The main spring show and sale of breeding heifers and calves will take place on Tuesday, April 30 and we have another three breeding sales in May.”
 
Mr Angus said that he is positive that breeding cattle will maintain last year’s rates, especially when producers didn’t replace cow numbers in the back-end.
 
He added: “Due to the fodder shortages last year, farmers haven’t had a chance to replace in their herds and because there have been no significant dispersals yet, there should be plenty buyers looking for breeding cattle.”
 
The prime cattle trade has seen handier types well sought after with the best of butchers’ heifers selling between 220p per kg and 235p. It’s expected that trade will remain steady for the next six weeks with the hope of a turnaround by mid-May.

Prime and cull cattle manager, Tim McDonald, was particularly pleased to report that there have been a few new local butchers buying cattle at the sale every week due to a rise in consumers wishing to source local produce in shops.
 
With increased bedding costs and straw shortages, Mr McDonald also pointed out that there were more dirtier cattle coming through the ring than usual and he is advising those customers with fleshier cows to get in touch with auctioneers to arrange for clipping services before sale.
 
It’s hoped that cast cows will soon become dearer due to an increased demand across the country but with producers having off-loaded cows in the back-end of last year, Mr McDonald said that there are not the same numbers forward. He also mentioned that there is a real lack of fed cows coming through the ring because producers just simply haven’t kept on cows for feeding.

Over recent weeks, the prime lamb trade has remained fairly static with overall averages up to 190p per kg liveweight which equates to a £2-£3 rise on recent levels.
Deputy head of livestock, Colin Slessor, said that the best of export and heavy lambs were selling in and around the £90-£95 mark, and that handy weight types were still proving to be the easiest commodity to sell.

Mr Slessor also pointed out that both prime lamb and feeding ewe numbers were tightening in the south of Scotland and into England. As a result, the trade for feeding ewes has begun to show signs of improvement with top-quality pure-bred and heavy type ewes cashing in between £120 and £140. The best of the Mule ewes forward have realised £70-£75, while top Blackface ewes have been selling for £55 plus.

Fears of uncertainty surrounding Brexit has meant that trade for store lambs has been back on last year’s animated levels but despite store lamb numbers having been very scare over the last few weeks, demand has been particularly strong with confidence at the ringside.

Meanwhile, trade for ewes with lambs at foot has not quite kicked off yet and Mr Slessor said that consignors would be offering stock in the next few weeks (April onwards). He remains optimistic that there will be the usual ready demand for well-mothered outfits.