12 January 1996

B&W calves hold steady

THIS weeks early markets show black-and-white calf prices holding steady at about the £85/head-mark.

The export demand remains good, says Hugh Evans, auctioneer at Carmarthen, Dyfed.

There, last weeks entry of 393 Friesian bulls averaged £97. Charolais, meanwhile, levelled at £189; Limousins £146; and Simmentals £125.

Most areas saw reduced numbers as the Christmas period affected markets opening schedules. "A lot of producers deliberately do not calve cows at that time of year anyway," says Mr Evans.

Numbers – and prices – should now hold reasonably steady for the next three months, although the quality of entries may deteriorate slightly over the same period, he says.

The spring will see prices boosted as farmers with suckler herds buy more, he adds.

"We are beginning to see one or two farmers hold onto calves to use excess milk in anticipation of the quota situation," he adds.

At Gloucester, meanwhile, auctioneer John Pullin saw 292 male Friesians average £87 on Monday. "Bull calves are still a particularly strong trade," he says.

Some calves, however, are "not looking as good as they could because of the weather". &#42