By John Angus, head of livestock at Aberdeen and Northern Marts – a member of IAAS.

Despite a year of extreme weather and the uncertainty surrounding the industry, trade for store cattle and breeding stock this autumn has held up well and been a lot stronger than we anticipated.

Some areas in the north and North-east have more winter feed available that they predicted, but some farmers, particularly those in upland areas, are still at a premium and that is a real concern. The recent mild back-end has been a blessing for livestock producers, though, as the late grass growth has allowed cows to be outside longer than usual which has helped ease the pressure of fodder challenges going into winter.

The best of autumn store cattle have been of a similar trade to last year although the plainer, weathered cattle have proved harder to sell, bringing the overall average back on the year. Autumn-born store calves sold at our main sale at Thainstone saw prices drop by 4.6 pence per kilo for steers and 2.3 pence per kilo for heifers, while the later sale of spring-born calves saw the steer trade rise by 6.5 pence per kilo and heifers increase by 5.2 pence per kilo.

Breeding cattle sold throughout the back-end saw a total of 447 spring calving heifers up £69 on the year to average at £1716 per head which proves that producers are replacing cull cows in their suckler herd and aren't reducing numbers to what most had predicted.

Due to a supply of better-quality barley this year, finishing cattle have been coming onto the market quicker which has put pressure on the price and is a concern, coupled with a two-three week waiting list at abattoirs to get cattle slaughtered. The current trade for prime cattle is steady and butchers' heifers seem to be attracting a premium price in the sale ring.

In the last fortnight, the weakening of the pound has resulted in a rise in the prime lamb trade, with export weight lambs seeing the biggest rise. Store lamb prices have risen by £10 per head with top prices of £60 to £68 paid for the best of store lambs. The autumn trade for breeding stock saw gimmers back £10 to £15 on the year, although top-end gimmers met a strong demand.