By FWi staff

CALF prices have plummeted at livestock auctions as the sector tries to second guess the way the market will react to the end of the Calf Processing Aid Scheme.

Average calf values fell £15/head at some markets last week with a number of auctioneers reporting an increase of plainer heifer calves being marketed.

Beef calves faired less badly falling by £4.73 to £64.90 per head.

One auctioneer said he thought a number of farmers and dealers had decided not to buy calves until the end of the CPAS scheme in the hope that values will tumble.

But many other auctioneers believe the tumble may have already started.

Stephen Egerton from Uttoxeter market, Staffordshire said the whole calf sector was becoming increasingly difficult.

“Generally the prices are falling back due to seasonality but at the back of everyones mind is the end of the CPAS,” he said.

The best Limousin bull calves at Uttoexeter last week fetched £184 each.

But despite these values, average calf prices at the market fell by £15 on the back of falling demand for heifers.

Prices will fall further at the end of the month if the CPAS scheme is lifted because theres no immediate export outlet for calves, said Mr Egerton.

“Demand will be static,” he said.

“In the short term it may look viable but in the long term it could lead to oversupply in fat cattle and bring beef prices down.”

Robert Whitelock, of Hexham market, Northumberland also put last weeks drop down to the end of the CPAS scheme. “It certainly indicates that once the CPAS ends more calves will be available,” he added.