Dairy Beef Market Trends From EBLEX

UK - A brief look at the calf and cull cow market.
calendar icon 13 October 2009
clock icon 2 minute read

Rearing calves (aged under 21 days)

Although prices slipped back slightly on August, demand for beef rearing calves continues to be strong as a result of considerably more favourable grain-based feed prices going into this winter.

Continental-cross bull calf prices at auction in September averaged over £227/head.This was around £3/head down on the final average for August but comfortably above the mid-summer lows and around £40/head up on the same time last year.

Increased volumes caused purebred Holstein/Friesian bull calf prices to fall back to just under £45/head. Even so, this compares very favourably to the £27 average of September 2008, underlining the extent to which domestic rearing demand has picked-up in the year since TB problems scuppered the export trade.

Interestingly, at these relative calf prices black and white bulls seem to offer a better current beef margin-earning potential than many continental-bred steers and heifers.

Cull cows

The cull cow trade has taken on bit of a rollercoaster appearance this autumn, with prices falling back again after last month’s recovery despite a further weakening of sterling against the Euro.

At an average of 104 p/kg liveweight, beef cull cow prices at auction lost all their August gains to end up almost identical to both this July and last September. Dairy culls suffered even more to record their lowest monthly average of the year at less than 78p/kg liveweight – a good 5p/kg below a year ago.

With equivalent producer prices here already ahead of the trade in our main Euro-zone export markets, any further improvement in the exchange rate is, unfortunately, unlikely to result in any short term recovery in the cull cow market.

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