18 February 2000

Little margin for cattle finishers

STRONG store cattle prices are leaving little margin for finishers, but demand remains good, report auctioneers.

Values are up between £40-£70 a head on last year at many centres, but auctioneers are suggesting more stock could be sold. At Ashford, Kent, Richard Wood notes more quality entries are required to satisfy demand. Steers sold to £475 for a Simmental X on a blue card (with one beef subsidy claim to go) and heifers to £300 for a 17-month-old Charolais.

At Exeters Friday venue great interest was being shown in cow and calf entries, particularly if it was running with a male calf. The days top entry was £440; the price pinned by a firm trade for prime cattle which has had a knock-on effect down through the store and calf sales.

Simmentals and Blonde steers continue to find appeal with entries at Ludlow averaging 108p/kg, with Charolais not far behind, and Belgian Blues at 102p/kg. All steers regardless of size, shape and claim averaged 106p/kg, report auctioneers. Heifers are also in demand again with Belgian Blue and Blonde breeding averaging 92-94p/kg.

Numbers are tightening and producers are taking a broader view of quality on offer. At United Auctions fortnightly sale at Dingwall, Scotland, a mixed entry also met a stronger demand. Meatier heifers over 450kg topped at £480 with many lighter sorts (301-350kg) changing hands at between £305-£315 a head. &#42