Lambs in abattoirs are getting £5.05/kg this week for R grades, which puts most lambs over £100/head. The official Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) price for R grade lambs across the UK is £4.87/kg for the week ending 2 January.

Only 31,500 lambs were slaughtered last week, which is well down on the typical kill of over 50,000 in the middle of December.

Lambs up £16/head

The live ring also hit the heights this week, with Ayr Mart selling lambs to an average of £2.41/kg, Lanark averaged £2.42/kg and St Boswells sold to £2.40/kg.

These prices are pushing some lambs to £110/kg. There was a big sale in Castle Douglas, with over 1,500 lambs selling to an average of £2.42/kg on Tuesday this week.

These prices are 20p to 30p/kg up on prices before Christmas. The all lamb liveweight price at the start of 2019 plummeted to £2.04/kg, which is £16/head below current prices.

These strong prices are despite UK exports of lamb falling, with a 13% year-on-year decline in October to 7,700t.

Exports to both France and Germany declined, falling by 16% and 8% respectively, while shipments to Ireland grew by 24% on the year. Despite this, exports to Ireland for the year to date remain comparable to those seen in 2019, due to a decline in shipments seen earlier in the year.

A dramatic fall in eating out due to lockdowns across Europe is curtailing the export of lamb opportunities. However, despite all this, the price remains strong.

Beef price

Farmers are getting paid between £3.70/kg and £3.78/kg for R grade steer carcases under 400kg.

Many abattoirs have put 4p/kg on their base price since the end of 2020. It is important to remember the base price includes the Scotch premium, with ineligible cattle paid at an average English price.

There is increasing positivity in the beef trade, as new lockdown restrictions could see another rise in consumer demand for primary beef cuts such as stews and small roasts.

The official AHDB price for R grading steers for the week ending 2 January was £3.83/kg, which is up 2p/kg on the week. Same-grade heifers didn’t change price on the week, staying at £3.83/kg.

The official price difference for R grade steers and heifers between Scotland and English is around 6p/kg.

The young bull price has crashed in recent weeks, with this week’s price down 4p/kg to £3.54/kg.

However, only 164 were slaughtered, making national averages a challenge.

Finished cows were reported by the AHDB at £2.52/kg for an 0-4, which is up 7/kg.

Lanark Mart held a small store sale of just over 200 cattle on Tuesday where steers average £2.18/kg, heifers £2.09/kg and dairy steers £1.59/kg.