Scottish farmers are being offered between £4.30/kg to £4.34/kg for in-spec R4L steers and heifers in abattoirs – the highest base price received by many farmers since the previous record of around £4.25/kg in the aftermath of 2013’s 'horsegate' scandal.

The rise has put an additional £128 onto carcases since the start of the year. Some abattoirs will be offering a 5p/kg premium for carcases under 380kg which could see farmers paid nearly £4.40/kg.

The official AHDB price this week for an R4L steer is £4.31/kg for the week ending March 26. There has also been the welcome return of a Scotch Premium in the official figures, with R grading steers getting a 2p/kg premium over prices reported in Northern England and 6p/kg over abattoirs further south.

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Following this hot trade are record cow prices, with abattoirs paying up to £3.90/kg for R grade cows on the hook. This represents a rise on the year of £500/head for a heavy 500kg carcase.

The store trade looks split, with heavier stores costing £100-£200/head more on the year but lighter cattle steady. Big store cattle weighing around 700kg were selling for £1800/head at Thainstone and £1660/head at United Auctions. Lighter cattle appear to be priced at a similar level to a year ago with average prices for store steers between 6-12 months at £950/head. The static price could be in reaction to rising input costs, as lighter cattle will need more feed and grazing before hitting slaughter weight.

Farmers are welcoming the rise in the beef market – however with fertiliser, fuel and feed also rocketing up in price, many feel the market still has some way to go.

Scottish Beef Association chair David Barron said: “The price rise is fantastic but if you do a bit of counting it is all needed because of rising input cost. Beef needs to be near £5/kg to make a decent margin.”