16 February 1996

Fall is forecast for B&W calves

HAVING risen since the new year, black-and-white calf prices look set to fall this week, with Monday markets suggesting an average of about £110/head or less.

At Gloucester, as elsewhere, auctioneer Roger Bush say numbers have dropped seasonally since Christmas and values have firmed. On Monday, however, black-and-white bulls fell £20 on the week to average £110.

There has been some resistance from buyers on the Continent against the rising prices, he suggests.

Auctioneer Keith Rose at Northampton is of a similar opinion. "But there are still home-rearers who want good-quality Friesian bulls, which are available at three-weeks-old for between £100 and £130," he says.

"Fresh faces" have also appeared around the ring as farmers with suckler herds have begun looking for additional calves for double or multiple suckling outfits.

This has also been seen at Ludlow by auctioneer Chris Jones. And it helped Charolais bulls sell to £330 on Monday, with three others topping the £300-mark, he suggests.

The Friesian calf trade, meanwhile, has risen at Ludlow, with Mondays average showing a £20 rise on the week to £118.

Not only have black-and-white entries fallen over recent weeks, they are also below the levels of this time last year, points out auctioneer Arthur Rowland at Holsworthy.

Producers avoid calving at the end of the quota year, and they also are retaining stock to use any excess milk, he suggests.

A Continental calf which could be sold for, say, £180 could make £300 if it was held onto for another two or three weeks, he says.

And firm prices of Continentals has encouraged some farmers to look toward better Friesian calves for beef production. &#42