14 June 1996

IB lift for prime cattle prices

PRIME cattle prices rose early this week. Intervention buying was the reason, say auctioneers.

Steers – up nearly 4p/kg at 107.15p/kg – saw the largest improvement, according to MLC figures. And young bulls rose nearly 3p/kg at 97.61p/kg.

Take intervention out of the equation and the trade would be worse than it was a month ago, reckons auctioneer Ashley Ward at Guildford, Surrey. Values were boosted this week as traders competed to fill last months tender allocation, he says.

But the heifer trade is still terrible, adds Mr Ward. "Those that would have been making 120p/kg before the crisis are making between 85p and 90p/kg now."

Similarly auctioneer Chris Jones saw a brighter trade at Ludlow, Shropshire, on Monday. Standard-quality medium-weight steers and heifers levelled 109p/kg and 104p/kg, respectively. And medium young bulls averaged 102p/kg.

"Intervention seems to be having a significant affect," agrees auctioneer Paul Gentry at Newark, Notts. "There is a stronger trade for the better-quality steers and heifers. But the absence of an export trade is still hitting the bull trade hard."

Meanwhile, with cattle having been kept back in the face of weak prices, there are still a lot of over-fat stock – especially heifers – being sold, he says. But cattle could be in short supply in the summer. And there are signs that farmers are investing in stores, which suggests some confidence. &#42