Weekly cattle & sheep market wrap - 28 March 2024

Thursday, 28 March 2024

Key Points:

Prices for the week ending 23rd March 2024

  • The average deadweight lamb SQQ now sits at 839p/kg, an increase of 49p on the previous week.

  • Deadweight cattle prices are seeing some pressure, with R4L steer prices back 3p on the week to 502p/kg. Cow prices also fell slightly, with the overall measure back nearly 1p to 349p/kg.

  • Large GB/Irish price differentials suggest a favourable import environment for beef, while continued low supplies and robust demand drives lamb prices further.


Deadweight prime cattle prices followed last week’s trend, with prime prices continuing to see some pressure as GB R4L steers fell by 3p on the week, to average 502p/kg. This sentiment was echoed across the prime categories. Looking to cows, the overall GB average measure also saw some small declines, down by 1p. Cows of -O4L classification held more support in the market, up by nearly 1p.

All regions witnessed price decreases over the last week across the prime categories with the exception of young bulls in the Northern area, which saw minor increases. Meanwhile cow prices have seen decreases across all regions, apart from Central which offered some stability.

Looking to import data, large volumes of Irish product were recorded in January and there remains a significant pricing differential to GB product, a key factor in the current marketplace. From a demand perspective, reports suggest wholesale markets are slow, with easter trading now finalised.

Estimated prime slaughter has remained nearly static week on week, while sitting 10% higher against the same week last year. When comparing YTD, the 2024 kill is now sitting above 2023. Cow kills meanwhile have increased slightly, up 200 head on the week.


Deadweight sheep prices once again have reached all-time highs for the week ending 23rd March, with the GB OSL SQQ now sitting at 839p/kg. This is a 49p jump on the week and leaves the current price sitting 53% higher than a year ago.

Supplies continue to be tight, with the latest weeks estimated slaughter back 10% against the same point in 2023. From a year to date perspective, the 2024 lamb kill is now 5% back, when using AHDB’s estimated slaughterings.

Recent market reports suggest lamb prices are beginning to stabilise, with this week’s trading suggesting some slight easing in liveweight market values. Average EU sheep prices point towards UK lamb now becoming more expensive than EU competitors at a farmgate level, potentially creating stronger competition in European markets. However French wholesale markets remain buoyant, with further price increases being seen over the last week, suggesting the robust demand trend seen recently continues. With Eid-al-Fitr occurring early April, there continues to be a key demand period on the horizon for both the domestic customer and key European export markets.

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