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