Despite reduced numbers forward, finished beef prices slipped again this week on the back of a marginal increase the previous week.

Latest figures from AHDB show the overall steer average in Scotland fell 3.1p per deadweight kg to level at 359.5p with heifers at 362.5p, down 0.3%.

This compares to the overall GB average for steers and heifers of 350.2p and 350.8p, down 1.5p and 0.5p, respectively for 2.5% fewer steers and 7.3% fewer heifers.

Figures for the week ending February 2, also point to a fall in the demand for cows, with those in Scotland averaging 229.0p, which is down marginally for some 4.6% fewer.

In contrast, young bulls north of the Border, increased on the week by almost 12p to level at 342.5p with a 23.6% reduction in numbers slaughtered.

Prices across the Irish Sea are far from inspiring too with base quotes for the week commencing February 4 in Northern Ireland of 330-338p for R3 cattle and 336-344p per deadweight kg for U3 cattle. Cow values for those grading O+3 and better ranged from 222-240p.

It was a similar situation in the Republic of Ireland too with R3 steers falling 5.4p per kg to level at 322.4p and the same grade amongst the heifers at 339.9p showing a fall of 4.3p on the week.

Cull cows prices were nevertheless similar to those in the north of the country, with O3 grade cows falling 3.3p per deadweight kg to 236.6p.

However, with latest UK forecasts for 2019 pointing to a slight decrease in domestic production, the hope is prices will lift as the year progresses, with the poor calving period in 2018 likely to have an impact on production this year and throughout 2020.

The high level of females slaughtered last year is also likely to reduce the breeding herd which will further hamper future production, according to AHDB.