By Farmers Weekly staff

CONTINENTAL calf prices are beginning to level out after a spate of strong sales over recent weeks brought about by tighter supplies.

The upsurge had been welcome by many centres following a gloomy pre-year end period when many Friesian bulls were at 18 a head and Charolais bulls nearer 108 a head.

Since then, Continental breeds rose strongly, with Charolais peaking at 152 and subsequently falling back to 141 a piece last week (18 February), according to MLC figures.

Jon Pullin of Bruton Knowles says the strong trade has reflected a supposed shortage of prime cattle which has rubbed off on calf and store-cattle sales.

The rise in bull-calf values has put forward heifers as a better proposition, despite attracting no beef subsidy.

Females that were fetching 40 each at the end of last year are now being bid at nearer 100, he says.

But demand for Continentals remains keen for the best quality.

“We had a run of Simmental heifers in this week to average 113; the top 10 bulls averaged just short of 197 each.

“Even the killing price for plainer Holstein calves has come up – fewer will be shot on-farm and some will also going forward for rearing.”

The weekly all-market average has eased with the levelling off of some Continental calf prices.

According to MLC figures the weekly average had risen consistently to 75.52 a week ago, but has now levelled out. Coincidentally, prime cattle prices have also relaxed.

Calves: