19 April 1996

Cattle trade is still depressed

STORE cattle marketings are increasing but trade remains depressed, especially for heavier and lower-quality animals.

Latest MLC figures show an all-steers average in England and Wales of 113.4p/kg in the week to Apr 13. Only a month before, this had stood at over 130p/kg.

"There is still a lack of confidence among buyers to buy and among sellers to sell," says auctioneer Alistair Sneddon of Bagshaws. "But where people have sold they have found a reasonable trade, especially for the smaller, long-keep animals."

At Wooler, Northumbria, auctioneer Scott Donaldson says that after two sales, in each of which only 100 head were forward, entries at next Tuesdays sale (Apr 23) should be approaching 800 head.

"Prices are back between £70 and £120 on last year," says Mr Donaldson. "But quality cattle have not dropped that much."

Market stores now

With a backlog in the pipeline, and buyers likely to be less active next month, Mr Donaldson urges farmers to market stores now. "It could get harder to sell them," he says.

But at Rugby, Warks, auctioneer Simon Draper says renewed confidence has come back into the store trade with the belief that, once the present glut of cattle has been cleared out of yards, a summer beef shortage is looming.

Mondays April Fair at Rugby saw a near total clearance of the 400 head. The winning pen of Charolais steers, at 15 months old, made £548 apiece.

And at Kington, Hereford and Worcester, McCartneys latest offering saw 375 stores go under the hammer. Steers averaged 112p/kg and heifers 103p/kg.

"It was noticeable that the cattle forward were a little bit younger; farmers were selling stock which had time on its side," says auctioneer John-Eirian Davies.

"The store trade now depends partly on what happens to finished cattle. If a lot of these are sold, and prices are depressed, the store trade could follow." &#42