Aberdeen & Northern Marts market outlook


Uncertainty in the beef market continues to reflect the price of store cattle, with overall averages back by approximately 25p per kg on the year across all centres in the country.

The weekly sale of store cattle at Aberdeen and Northern Marts’ Thainstone Centre on September 20, saw bullocks average 187.1p, while heifers cashed in at 186p.

Aberdeen and Northern Marts’ head of livestock, John Angus, said that the values for short term store cattle have been most affected as they get nearer the finished spec.

Mr Angus did add however, that despite so much uncertainty in all sectors of agriculture, there are still producers out there looking to buy cattle.

He said: “There is plenty fodder and straw available on farms compared to this time last year so smaller store cattle should be cheaply wintered this year. The decline in the price of cereals will also be in the finishers’ favour this year with reduced rates in both straw and barley.”

On a more positive perspective, Mr Angus commented that recent store cattle sold at Thainstone have summered well this year due to better weather and large volumes of grass throughout the summer months.
In the breeding cattle market, ANM held a recent dispersal of top-quality suckler cows with calves which saw many outfits sell between £2,000 and £2,500.

The annual sale of certified BVD free heifers on September 13, reached a top of £1400 per head for a Simmental but likewise to the store cattle, saw overall averages back on the year. 

“It’s evident that quality breeding stock is still wanted and with livestock farmers having more available fodder and straw compared to this time last year, those looking to replace will still be there to support the breeding cattle sales,” said Mr Angus.

Over the next month at Thainstone, the breeding cattle and weaned calf sales will kick off with the annual show and sale of commercial breeding cattle on October 1, which has attracted an entry of 170 heifers with calves at foot, followed by sales of weaned and suckled calves throughout the rest of the month.

More than 500 head of cattle will also go under the hammer at the firm’s major sale of spring calving heifers on October 29.

The prime cattle trade has seen a steady increase in numbers through the live ring at Thainstone.

Prime and cull cattle manager Tim McDonald, said that more cattle out with the specification for Scottish slaughterhouses were coming forward, which in turn is attracting more south buyers who prefer heavier types of cattle.

He added that there is an increased demand from local butchers, with handy weight heifers achieving 210p to 220p per kg.

Due to increased grass growth and more forage available compared to last year, heavier and well-fleshed cows have been sold through the ring.

Mr McDonald also said that producers weren’t under as much pressure this year to offload cows. He added that averages for cast cows were similar on the year with cows at 128.4p per kg on September 19.

In line with the reduction in the prime sheep trade, top-end store lambs have eased back over the last month, with the best of lambs cashing in between £60 and £65 per head.

Deputy head of livestock Colin Slessor, said that longer keep store lambs have also dropped in value despite the demand remaining fairly strong.

He added that the best of prime lambs has been selling between £75 and £80 per head, with overall averages back almost 10p on the year to average 155p per kg.

At the firm’s main sale of breeding gimmers on September 11, all breeds met an acceptable trade from start to finish, with a near total clearance being achieved.

Mule gimmers averaged £131.54 with a top price of £168 and Mr Slessor pointed out that due to all lesser sorts being sold on the day, the average dropped on the year by £5.

Half-bred gimmers averaged £154.84 (+£8.01) and sold to £168 on two occasions, while continental gimmers produced the top price of the day of £220 having cashed in at £137.13.

Cheviot Mule gimmers levelled at £137.09 (+£2.88) and peaked at £150.

Mr Slessor said: “General breeding numbers have been tight but the trade has matched last year’s levels. With all sectors in agriculture experiencing a difficult period, it would appear that flock masters are prepared to continue to support the breeding sheep sector.”

Meanwhile, trade for feeding ewes has remained strong throughout August but with more numbers coming forward from across the UK, trade has eased off on all classes.
Top-quality pure-bred ewes continue to be in short supply and are achieving between £110 and £130.