Old season lamb prices at GB auction markets eased again in week ended 29 April, with the OSL SQQ down 9p at 175.6p/kg. This has increased the difference, compared to the same period last year, to 31p. This is despite numbers in the corresponding week of 2014 being over 20% higher, although this could have been due to some restocking last year following the later Easter period. This means that the daily OSL SQQ has been trending below week earlier levels for over two weeks. Notwithstanding this, prices did steady somewhat as the week progressed, with the SQQ on 29 April showing the smallest week-on-week fall in over two weeks. Numbers of old season lambs coming forward have started to tail off slightly as the season moves towards the switchover, but they do still remain high.
The new season trade has continued to pick up pace, with lambs coming forward in increasing numbers in week ended 29 April. Throughputs were up 14% on the previous week. Combined with the high number of old season lambs being marketed, this contributed to prices falling. The NSL SQQ fell 14p to 206.9p/kg, 40p below the level seen in 2014 and the same price as that received for old season lambs in the equivalent week last year.
Auction markets across Great Britain report their cattle and sheep sales to AHDB throughout the day. The latest prices and throughputs for finished sales from individual auction markets are updated on this page and are shown under each market’s day of sale.
Finished cattle are sold individually and auction markets provide the breed, sex category, date of birth, price, weight and farm assured information for each beast sold liveweight. Prime cattle are classed as heifers or steers under 30 months and bulls under 24 months of age. Finished sheep are normally sold in batches and the auction markets provide the age category, price, weight and farm assured information for every lot sold liveweight. Prime sheep are reported as new season lambs (clean sheep from this year’s crop) or old season lambs (clean sheep from last year’s crop) sometimes referred to as hoggs or hoggets. The Standard Quality Quotation is an industry standard weight band for prime live sheep between 25.5kg and 45.5kg.
In February, producers received 51% of the final retail price for beef, one point less than in the month before. While this came as farmgate prices eased against retail prices edging up, it does still represent a continuation of the broader picture in which the producer has received a modestly larger share of the retail price than they did for much of last year. With tighter supplies on the horizon it is possible that the balance may be more in producers’ favour than for much of last year.
The total number of cattle and calves in England as of 1 December was marginally back on the year at 5.31 million head. While the figures from DEFRA revealed an increase in the total breeding herd, for the second consecutive year, it masks the fact the component parts have moved in opposite directions. At 1.16 million head, the dairy herd showed a third year of growth, increasing by more than 2% on year earlier levels. In contrast, the downward trend in the beef herd has continued as concerns over profitability persist. However, the decrease was smaller than in recent years, back less than 1% to 695,000 head.
Looking at slaughter cattle numbers, supporting the outlook for tighter supplies this year, the number of male cattle on the ground over two years of age and between one and two years were both lower on the year. However, there is some potential for a modest increase in supplies in the longer term, the number of female cattle on the ground under one-year-ofage were reported to be a fraction higher on the year.
Eblex Lamb Market Prices
$2.75-3.325 per pound live weight.