Continued uncertainty in the industry and the collapse in prime cattle values has had an impact on trade for store cattle in the first quarter of the year, with prices back by 16p per kg on the year, according to Aberdeen and Northern Marts’ figures for the period from January to the end of March.

ANM’s head of livestock, John Angus, said that despite heifers being back by 16p per year on last year’s strong trade, it was heavier types of store cattle that were being most affected on the back of the prime cattle trade.

On a more promising note, Mr Angus commented that the weather outlook looked more positive than what it did this time last year, with grass growing well for young store cattle to head straight outside.

He said: “Our busiest season for selling store and breeding cattle is just around the corner and we hope to sell 10,000 store cattle in the next six weeks. I believe the demand for store cattle will continue to grow as the weeks go in.”

Mr Angus said that he is positive that breeding cattle will maintain last year’s rates, especially when producers didn’t replace cow numbers in the back-end.

He added: “Due to the fodder shortages last year, farmers haven’t had a chance to replace in their herds and because there have been no significant dispersals yet, there should be plenty buyers looking for breeding cattle.”

Prime and cull cattle manager at ANM, Tim McDonald, was particularly pleased to report that there have been a few new local butchers buying cattle at the Thainstone sale every week due to a rise in consumers wishing to source local produce in shops.

With increased bedding costs and straw shortages, Mr McDonald also pointed out that there were more dirtier cattle coming through the ring than usual and he is advising those customers with fleshier cows to get in touch with auctioneers to arrange for clipping services before sale.

It’s hoped that cast cows will soon become dearer due to an increased demand across the country but with producers having off-loaded cows in the back-end of last year, Mr McDonald said that there are not the same numbers forward. He also mentioned that there is a real lack of fed cows coming through the ring because producers just simply haven’t kept on cows for feeding.