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Beef trade to remain firm

While the sheep trade appears to be falling almost on a weekly basis, UK prime cattle prices and averages are continuing to rise across the board – and the trend looks set to continue.

Recent figures from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board show average Scottish deadweight prices of in excess of 370p per kg, which is an improvement of almost 30p per kg on the year for R4L steers and heifers.

The early markets of this week point to that trend continuing too with Monday's live sale at St Boswells seeing bullocks level at 217.7p and heifers at 216.2p, a rise of 3.4p and 5.3p, respectively, on the previous seven days.

Slaughter numbers are nevertheless well down, with 2170 steers killed in the week ending December 29, showing a fall of 43.87% compared to the previous week, with the heifer trade down 33.17% at 2057, in Scotland.

Overall, there has been an estimated 15% fall in the number of prime cattle slaughterings in 2012 compared to 2011.

Supplies are likely to remain tight for the foreseeable future too as, while the number of prime cattle being sold has been slipping on an annual basis, larger numbers of cull cows are still being sold, mainly due to on-going herd rationalisation and the reduced feed available over the long winters of recent years.

Read the full trend on the current beef trade in this week's issue of The Scottish Farmer, out January 12.

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