Meat & Livestock News

Weekly Cattle and Sheep Market Overview

TL;DR: The GB cattle and sheep markets remained stable with slight variations. While cattle prices were steady, sheep prices dipped slightly despite lower supply. Strong retail demand and strategic promotions buoyed the market, with upcoming religious festivals expected to influence future demand and pricing.

Cattle Market Stability

In the week ending 27 April, the GB prime cattle market remained stable. Average prices for steers held steady at 487.4p/kg. Heifers experienced a slight decrease of 0.1p, closing at 484.4p/kg. However, young bulls saw an increase, rising by 1.8p to 473.3p/kg.

Cow prices also edged higher by 1.4p, reaching 358.5p/kg, although this figure is still 25p below the levels from the previous year. This rise in cow prices comes as supply diminishes.

Regional Price Trends

Regionally, the Northern areas saw a rise in prices across all prime categories, despite an increase in slaughter rates. In contrast, Central regions experienced a decline in prime cattle prices. The South and Scotland showed mixed trends, whereas Central and Northern regions reported opposite trends for cow prices.

The overall prime cattle slaughter count remained almost unchanged at 34,700 heads, increasing only by 100. Cow slaughters, however, fell significantly by 1,000 heads, marking a 10% decrease from the previous week.

Demand Insights

Wholesale market trends indicate strong demand for BBQ items, including processed products and steaks. Retail data up to 14 April reflects a surge in demand for these products. In Europe and Ireland, cattle prices have stabilised, with Irish cattle slaughter gradually decreasing but still above last year’s figures.

Sheep Market Adjustments

The GB deadweight lamb market saw a decline, with prices dropping by 11p to an average of 849.6p/kg, although this is still an increase of 195p compared to last year.

Lamb slaughters decreased by 8%, totaling 142,900 heads—around 30% lower than the previous year. This reduced supply has generally supported higher prices, although the quality of hoggets is becoming more varied as the season ends. Recent mild weather has allowed farmers to focus on fieldwork, which may have delayed some lambs from reaching the market.

Retail and Export Dynamics

Retail sales of lamb have been strong in recent months, boosted by promotional activities during key religious festivals such as Easter and Ramadan. Specifically, leg roasting joints have seen a significant increase in sales volumes in the weeks leading up to 14 April.

On the export front, while prices have historically been firm, there has been a slight softening this week. French wholesale prices, for instance, dipped mid-week, although the overall supply from major European producers remains low, supporting prices in general.

The upcoming Muslim festival of Eid-al-Adha on 16 June is expected to boost demand for sheep meat, potentially influencing procurement strategies for Qurbani.

The cattle and sheep markets have shown resilience with stable to positive pricing, supported by consistent demand and strategic market positioning. As we move forward, seasonal trends and international demand will continue to play crucial roles in shaping market dynamics.