Meat & Livestock News

Weekly Cattle and Sheep Market Overview

TL;DR: GB cattle prices slightly decreased, except for young bulls, while sheep prices surged significantly. Cattle and sheep slaughter rates increased, with promotional activities planned for the upcoming Great British Beef Week.

Cattle Trends

GB deadweight prime cattle prices fell slightly last week, ending 13 April. The all-prime average was 485.4p/kg, down by 0.8p, sitting 4p lower than the same time last year. The prices of steer and heifer led to this decline. Heifers dropped by 1.5p to an average of 484.1p/kg, while steer prices eased by 0.7p to 487.5p/kg. In contrast, young bull prices rose by 3.7p to 471.7p/kg.

Cow prices grew by 1p to 356p/kg, despite being 27p/kg below last year’s figures. Demand appears as summer approaches.

Regionally, prices varied. The South and Central areas saw steer prices decline, whereas the North and Scotland experienced price increases. Heifer prices in the South and Scotland increased, unlike in the Central and Northern areas.

GB slaughtering totals for prime cattle reached 34,700 head, marking an increase of 4,000 from the previous week. Year-to-date figures show a 2.7% increase over 2023. Cow slaughtering also grew by 1,600 to 9,600 head last week.

Despite past Easter reductions, beef demand remains strong. This is supported by increased buying activity ahead of the grilling season. In Ireland, both prime cattle and cow prices have been rising due to strong demand.

Next week marks the start of Great British Beef Week, celebrating British beef’s exceptional taste and versatility, with various promotional activities planned.

Sheep Update

GB deadweight sheep prices saw a significant rebound, with the GB OSL SQQ reaching 851p/kg, up by 21.2p from last week, and notably 214p higher than last year.

However, domestic sheep supplies are tight. Year-to-date slaughtering is down 7.6%, with about 238,000 fewer heads than in 2023. Last week’s total was 176,000, down 76,000 from the post-Easter week last year.

Despite the Easter period, prices remained high, with strong sales reported early in the week for Eid. Persistent rain has affected the quality and finishing of lambs. On the export front, prices at the Rungis wholesale market have stayed high over the past week.