31 May 1996

Lamb prices have been volatile recently. At South Molton, Devon, for example, they were averaging 153p/kg or £60/head last Thursday, nearly £10 more than the week before. Elsewhere in the mart, finished cattle levelled 100p/kg. The weak beef trade, meanwhile, has led to reduced calf prices, says Stags auctioneer Richard Pringle. The best Continental bull calves which were making £250 are now changing hands at £200. There was strong competition for killing calves, however, with prices typically about the £75-mark. But farmers are still not making full use of the slaughter and compensation scheme, and entering over-age calves which, on the open market, are making only £30 to £40.