Most Scottish livestock producers have been relatively upbeat about the future of their industry, but, with Brexit fast approaching and still no sign of 'a deal' there is no doubting confidence took a bit of a knock at this week's United Auctions' Bull Sales at Stirling, where buyers were very much sticking to a tight budget.

With both UK and European politicians still at loggerheads as to how a deal can be settled, and no positive news of forth coming financial support, John Roberts, auctioneer and director at United Auctions' said buyers were becoming more anxious about future trade and demand for their produce. Add to that the huge increases in feed, forage and fertiliser costs, and store and finished cattle prices down on last year's levels, and beef farmers are very much feeling the pinch from all sides.

"There is just so much uncertainty out there as to what Brexit will actually bring, whether the UK will get a trade deal with Europe, and what sort of support will be available in future years to come," he told The Scottish Farmer.

"Some breeds had better sales than others and while breeders were happy to sell their bulls, some were sold below the cost of production. There was more of a demand for some breeds, but you also have to remember that some cattle breeds last longer than others. And, a lot of producers would have been holding on to stock bulls for another year, rather than invest in a new herd sire when money is tight."

On a more positive note, Mr Roberts said that the Angus breed enjoyed a good sale with averages up £141 on the year, with breeders keen to invest in new bloodlines. As a result, the Aberdeen Angus breed attracted most of the top prices to include the top two at 25,000gns and 17,000gns.

The three remaining breeds, Beef Shorthorn, Lincoln Red and Limousin, did see reduced averages, but Mr Roberts said, this was on the back of a flying trade at the same sales last year.

By the end of the day 88 Aberdeen Angus bulls sold to a top of 25,000gns to average £5887, up £141 on the year, with a clearance of 74%. The Beef Shorthorn breed sold 41 bulls to a lead of 15,000gns to average £4676, down £1127, with a 58% clearance and 59 Limousins were sold to average £4600, down £1214, with an 80% and a top price of 11,500gns. Just two Lincoln Red bulls were cashed.

Females were topped at 6000gns on two occasions by an Aberdeen Angus from Ken and Margaret Howie, Cairnton and a Beef Shorthorn from the Biggar Family, Castle Douglas.