21 February 1997

Keen trade for young stores

FARMERS selling young store cattle, about a year old – on green CIDs – have good reason to smile at present.

According to auctioneers, those animals are attracting a fierce demand and making similar prices to 1996 levels.

Less sought after, meanwhile, are those with no subsidies due, those approaching 30-monthsof age and plainer sorts.

As auctioneer John Glanville at Liskeard, Cornwall puts it: "A 28-month-old Holstein steer in poor condition and on a red card doesnt stand much of a chance."

At last weeks sale, some cattle were topping the 140p/kg, says Mr Glanville. Buyers were bidding well for heifers with cattle birth record documents and "with time on their side". Two-tooth heifers, without paperwork, were less money.

Geoffrey Dolling, who takes the rostrum at Taunton, Somerset, says green-carded steers between 10 and 12-months-old have been making up to £500. Subsidy payments are fuelling the demand.

Even so, with finished cattle prices showing no sign of improvement, and March store values traditionally less than Februarys, trade may now dip, says Mr Dolling.

Heifer demand has risen – partly as a backlash against the steer prices, he says. "You can buy three heifers for the same money as two steers," he says.

But at Hexham, Northum-berland, auctioneer Trevor Simpson says heifer prices have risen so much that some of the best – at between 125p and 135p/kg – are making more than the bullocks.

Contributing to the switch away from male cattle in some cases has been the time involved in subsidy paperwork and inspection, he suggests.

At Hereford, auctioneer Mike Evans has seen little improvement for heifers. Those with CBRDs are, however, making a premium of £20 or £30 over those without them.

"CBRDs, like subsidy cards, are a vital part of any storemans ammunition nowadays."