11 April 1997

Berealistic on prices, urges MLC

CATTLE finishers must be realistic about the price they pay for stores.

Meat and Livestock Commission beef strategy manager Chris Brown suggests preparing a budget to establish exactly how much you can afford to pay for stores at this seasons sales.

"Go into beef production with your eyes open. What might appear to be a good buy at the sales might not be so good when sold."

Dr Brown suggests that meeting performance targets such as daily liveweight gains would be vital to ensure efficient production.

"For beef the main cost is feed, so assess grass management and finishing diets to ensure the best returns are achieved.

"Aim to maximise growth from the cheapest feed possible – grazed grass. Then as sward quality and quantity starts to decline in mid-summer, offer supplementary concentrates strategically and start drawing off finished cattle."

Dr Brown advises ensuring that animals dont become overfat and are marketed at the required specification. And to meet market requirements, he recommends choosing the right animal for the intended market. "Ensure you start with the right type. For example, when planning to finish off grass buy earlier maturing British breeds."

He also suggests buyers and sellers look to share information to help counter falling cattle prices.

"When your supplier or seller doesnt have EBVs of the sires of the stores, for example, you have to question their commitment to providing the best animals and improving the market for their stock," he says.

Knowing your supplier would also avoid buying in problems, such as disease, and good records would also be essential if the battle against poor performance and low profits is to be won.


&#8226 Know your supplier – dont buy problems.

&#8226 Limit journey times and handle new stock carefully to minimise stress.

&#8226 Develop a health plan before animals arrive.