24 October 1997

Heifers fare better than steers…

By Tim Relf

IF YOURE still to sell suckled calves this autumn, youre more likely to see an increase on last years values for heifers than steers.

At St Boswells, Borders, auctioneer Jack Clark reckons demand has increased for heifers.

Finishing at 480-520kg, they can be more acceptable to the home market than the heavy bullocks, which are most feeling the loss of the export market, he says.

Some of the male animals may be too heavy for the intervention weight ceiling of 360kg deadweight, he adds. "The paperwork involved with heifers is also far less than with steers."

Last Wednesdays offering of Charolais cross animals at St Boswells saw females average £395/head (97.7p/kg). Bullocks were typically worth £493 (109.7p/kg).

With uncertainty over the beef trade continuing, interest is stronger in the younger animals, says Mr Clark. "They have more time to grow while the market improves."

Elsewhere, the mood of suckled calf sellers is mixed. A spokesperson for the Brecon and Radnor Suckled Calf Rearers – which held an auction in Wales last week – said: "It wasnt as bad as it could have been – but we were disappointed it wasnt better."

Steers and heifers averaged 124.4p/kg and 96.9p/kg respectively at this event at Sennybridge, Powys. Thats 2.6p and 2.7p/kg higher than last year.

Auctioneer Mike Tompkinson said: "We were expecting prices to be lower – but the quality of stock on offer was excellent – and that saved the day."n

Suckled calf sample prices at St Boswells, Oct 15-16

Average:£/headChange

on 1996

Charolais

Bullocks493-6

Heifers395+8

Simmental

Bullocks469+6

Heifers377+16

Limousin

Bullocks458-2

Heifers379+18