After three months in the doldrums, finished beef prices have turned the corner and are fast approaching 500p per deadweight kg due a shortage of supplies.

Latest figures show the All steer and heifer average in Scotland up significantly on the week at 485.0p (+6.7p) and 483.7p (+4.4p), with -U3 classified heifers averaging as much as 494.1p.

Young bull prices are also up with an overall average of 467.9p (+3.3p), and the top -U2 carcases hitting 481.9p.

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Steers hitting the R4L spec in Scotland were valued at 487.6p, with heifers of the same grade at 486.0p. Notably, prices are up again this week.

These values compare to the GB All steer, heifer and young bull average prices of 468.0p, 464.6p and 456.8p, respectively, with steers and heifers meeting the R4L grade selling at 480.3p and 478.1p.

Furthermore, with the schools back, a chill in the air and government ministers in London at long last showing more support for British agriculture, finished beef prices look set to continue heading north in the months ahead, according to Neil Shand, chief executive of the National Beef Association.

“Numbers are tight and anyone who can supply the right numbers of cattle to the right spec and on a regular basis can get £5 per deadweight kg,” he said.

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“The last 10 days has provided a window of opportunity to get the harvest done, so the numbers forward at the slaughterhouses will be have been down, but supplies are not there when the Scottish beef herd is in decline.

“Prices will hold up when the processors will soon be looking to stock up for the Christmas market when you think there could also be a shortage of turkeys again this year.”

Mr Shand also hit out at the Scottish Government for not doing more to support suckler cow numbers, when the national herd in falling fast and as a result, so too are finished cattle supplies.

“Our industry is screaming out for something to support beef cow numbers in Scotland and I don’t know why there is no confirmation of the Beef Calf Scheme continuing when it is unique to Scotland, it is transparent and it works.”

Caledonian Marts’ managing director, Oliver Shearman has also seen an improvement in the live auction ring at Stirling for finished beef cattle, which he said is seeing prices approaching those paid late spring.

“The live ring is almost back to where it was in May. It’s not there yet, but it’s certainly heading that way due to the shortage of numbers,” he told The Scottish Farmer.

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“Our heifers averaged 314p per kg with bullocks at 313p for cattle in the 530-650kg weight range, last week, and beef bulls are rising too.”

Mr Shearman added that numbers were back 20% over the past two to three weeks, perhaps due to the good weather, but with strong demand, he is hopeful the trade will remain.

Notably, he added that the store trade has improved on the back of the rising prime beef market.

“Store cattle have risen 30p per kg over the past three to four weeks and are probably up more than the finished trade, which if it continues, I’d like to think the suckled calves will get a bit of a turn compared to last year,” concluded Mr Shearman.

Backing up these statements, Lawrie and Symington’s beef auctioneer, Primrose Dunbar, said: “There are not the numbers about so finished beef and store cattle prices are almost back up to where they were in the spring.”