Cattle prices end 2022 on historic high

Friday, 13 January 2023

In the four weeks to 31 December, average prices for all prime cattle were slightly above the previous period at 442.6p/kg. In the final week of the period, and year, prices peaked at 448.1p/kg, the highest on record (back to 2014).

Overall steer prices slightly increased on those seen in November, up 0.7p (0.1%), and ranged between 442.4p and 448.9p during the period. When compared with the same timeframe last year, prices are up by 36.8p (9.0%). Overall heifer prices slightly increased to average 441.9p/kg, up by 0.9p (0.2%) on November, and 35.2p (8.7%) on December last year. Young bulls were the only category of prime cattle to see prices easing in the 4-week period ending 31 December, averaging 422.5p/kg. This is a depreciation of 4.8p (1.1%) on November, however still remains 34.6p (8.9%) above prices seen last December.

Overall cow prices averaged 331.6p/kg in the 4-weeks to 31 December, up 4p (1.2%) on the previous month. As seen with the other categories, prices peaked in the final week of the period (and year), at 349.4p/kg, with prices lowest at the start of the period at 324.7p/kg, a range of 24.7p on the month. When compared with December last year, prices were up by 73.8p/kg (28.6%).

GB prime cattle slaughter (steers, heifers, and young bulls) was estimated at 120,000 head for the month of December. Although back on November by 43,700 head (26.7%), a quieter week between Christmas and New Year reduced the weekly average to almost 30,000 head from 32,700 head in November. Year to date (w/e 8 Jan – 31 Dec) prime cattle slaughter has totalled 1.61 million head. This is more than 5,600  head (0.4%) up on total slaughter number for the previous year, however is the second lowest yearly  prime cattle slaughter figures for records back to 2016.

Estimated cow slaughter totalled 44,400 head in the 4 weeks to 31 December. Throughputs averaged 11,100 head per week during this period, 2,900 head (20%) back on the average weekly throughputs for November. When compared with last December, an additional 5,600 head were processed during the month.  Year to date (w/e 8 Jan – 31 Dec), 554,700 head cows have been slaughtered, 18,700 head (3.5%) up on 2021.

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