New throughput figures from the UK livestock auction mart system have demonstrated strong support and demand for the red meat sector.
The figures, released by the Livestock Auctioneers’ Association (LAA), show strong trade throughout the year.
Numbers sold have increased in almost all categories of cattle, sheep and pigs, with an increase in buyers returning to the live-sales ring.
Turnover across all livestock animals reached close to £1.6 billion, across England and Wales, in 2019.
The sheep trade saw increases of 46,670 store and breeding stock, up to 2,837,888, and 183,446 prime sheep above 2018 figures (4,970,234 total).
There was an increase of 11,132 cull ewes, up to 1,861,774. Just shy of 10 million sheep were sold through livestock markets in England and Wales in 2019.
“We saw an impressive annual throughput of 225,000 head of sheep in 2019, marginally up on the previous two years,” said Managing Director at Hobbs Parker Auctioneers, Elwyn Davies, who is based at Ashford Livestock Market.
“This included more than 140,000 head in the second half of the year, from more than 400 vendors, from nine different counties. These sheep were sold to 300 individual purchasers from 19 different counties.”
Cattle sold through livestock markets in England and Wales stood at 1,022,765, over 5,000 up on 2018 numbers.
A further 210,443 calves also went through the live sales ring, an increase of 32,053 on 2018.
Store and breeding cattle sold in Wales increased by 2,348, with dairy cattle in both England and Wales seeing numbers rising by 4,875. Prime cattle saw a significant increase, up 15,317 on the year.
The LAA also reported on an uplift in the pig trade through the live sales ring. Store and breeding pigs increasing by almost 1,500, up to 33,662. Slaughter pigs lifted in numbers by 3,940 up to 79,717.
Chris Dodds, Executive Secretary of the LAA, said the figures show 'clear evidence' that the transparency and competitiveness of the live sales ring is driving trade on behalf of the farmer.
“It is good to see the confidence in the livestock markets with the increased throughput across all categories of stock sold,” he said.
“I am also delighted to see so many vendors returning to the market to generate best returns on their livestock, and I am equally pleased to see buyers identifying live sales as the chosen purchasing route."