Aberdeen and Northern Marts kicked off its 150th year of trading with a special sale of store cattle.

Despite COVID-19 restrictions limiting attendees to one per business, a total 1,244 cattle were sold on Friday 7 January.

Head auctioneer John Angus said: “A terrific show of mainly strong conditioned cattle met a brisk trade, with top yearling cattle witnessing a particularly strong demand. The overall sale averaged £1,262.08 (€1,513) per head.”

18-month-old Aberdeen Angus heifer weighing 448kg sold for €1,170 (£975). \Melissa Irvine

In the show and sale of store cattle sponsored by Thomson of Sauchen and judged by Alex Reid, Mill of Haulkerton, Laurencekirk, the overall champion went to a 648kg Limousin-cross heifer consigned by Smallburn Farms, Plewlands, Duffus, which realised €3,837 (£3,200) selling to J A Smith, The Rowands, Brora.

Reserve champion also went to Smallburn Farms, this time with a 680kg Limousin-cross heifer which sold to the judge for €2,158 (£1,800).

Five 20-month-old Simmental-cross steers weighing 652kg sold for €1,776 (£1,480). \ Melissa Irvine

Champion pair or pen was awarded to Uppermill Farms, Springburn, Kintore, for a pair of 716kg Limousin-cross heifers which realised €2,158 (£1,800) to the judge.

Strong demand

The steers averaged €2.85/kg (£2.38/kg), with a high of €3.67/kg (£3.06/kg) for the 566 sold.

The heifers sold for an average price of €2.81/kg (£2.34/kg), with a high of €5.91/kg (£4.93/kg).

20-month-old Simmental-cross steer weighing 652kg sold for €1,643 (£1,370). \ Melissa Irvine

There was also a sale of 152 bulling heifers, which averaged €4.29/kg (£3.58/kg) and a high of €5,515 (£4,600) for a 642kg Limousin-cross from Newmill, Cairness.

Two 22-month-old Simmental- and Limousin-cross steers weighing 593kg sold for €1,487 (£1,240). \ Melissa Irvine

The price of store cattle has been falling in recent weeks in Scotland, with 12- to 18-month-old steers averaging €1,154/head (£962/head) in the run-up to Christmas. This is a fall from €1,360/head (£1,134/head) at the end of summer in September.

Five 16-month-old Charolais-cross steers weighing 586kg sold for €1,589 (£1,325). \ Melissa Irvine

The deadweight beef price is sitting at €4.85/kg (£4.05/kg) for an R grading continental-bred steer. This has dropped 10p to 15p in the last month, but abattoirs have failed to pull the price below the £4/kg (€4.80/kg) barrier.

Looking ahead, UK cattle under one year of age are predicted to rise by 1.6% according to the agricultural census. How many of these will be retained for breeding stock or go into abattoirs remains to be seen.

Five 16-month-old Aberdeen Angus steers weighing 582kg sold for €1,602 (£1,335). \ Melissa Irvine

Nevertheless, it seems likely that as the year progresses UK domestic beef production will increase unless carcase weights fall.

Other lots

21-month-old Limousin heifer weighing 634kg sold for €1,799 (£1,500). \ Melissa Irvine

Two 20- and 26-month-old Charolais-cross steers weighing 644kg sold for €1,835 (£1,530). \ Melissa Irvine

Two 20-month-old Charolais-cross steers weighing 650kg sold for €1,751 (£1,460). \ Melissa Irvine

20-month-old Charolais-cross heifer weighing 526kg sold for €1,500 (£1,250). \ Melissa Irvine

Four 18- to 21-month-old Charolais-cross heifers weighing 570kg sold for €1,601 (£1,335). \ Melissa Irvine