5 May 1995

Confidence returns to

bull calves

By Tim Relf

BLACK-AND-WHITE bull calf prices have continued to firm as confidence has returned to the export trade.

The MLC says that exports during February were only 10% less than at the same time last year. And, although auctioneers report the best prices for some time, most comment, however, that future disruption could quickly reverse the improvements.

"The best trade for six months," says auctioneer Robert Addison at Carlisle. He saw last weeks average of £143 edge up this week to £148.

Nationwide, marketings were well down during the first quarter of 1995 compared to a year ago, as milk producers retained calves to consume excess milk supplies.

"We were expecting to see a large number of slightly older calves coming forward at the start of the new milk year," says Mr Addison. "But this hasnt happened. They may have gone into bull beef systems to come on the market in six months or more."

Similarly at Holsworthy, trade is "back to normal" according to auctioneer Arthur Rowland. "Numbers and prices are up slightly on 12 months ago. And assuming a steady export movement, prices will probably stay where they are until marketings increase seasonally in the autumn."

Meanwhile at Chelford, it has been Belgian Blues which have been making a roaring trade. This week 160 calves averaged £228, topping at £355.