By FWi staff

TRADE was mixed at markets yesterday (Monday) as the first cattle of 1999 went through livestock markets around the country.

Steers slipped back slightly on last week, dropping 1.03p to 90.42p/kg. Heifers also eased, slipping 1.75p to 88.43p/kg while young bulls remained relatively unchanged at 90.07p/kg.

Trade was strong, although prices were not as dear as in the previous two weeks, said auctioneer John Uffold of Ludlow market, Shropshire. Cattle values had climbed during the holiday period on the back of a shortage in supply and although slightly down they are still better than December values, he noted.

This was echoed by Bill Rawding of Winslow market, Buckinghamshire. Trade was not as good as last week but a shortage over the past two weeks had pushed values up.

Despite good quality cattle being presented at market demand was not so good this week, noted Mr Rawding.

However, at Hull market, East Yorkshire trade was strong. “Local butchers had a good trade over Christmas and needed new supplies,” said auctioneer, Ralph Ward. Prices were up on pre-Christmas values.

There is a building confidence in the cattle industry, said Mr Ward. “And although it will not be an easy start in 1999 trade will be reasonable.”

But Mr Rawding believes that cattle values could slip back as steers are moved out of retention and enter the market.

This theory was backed by a spokesman from Bagshaws of Uttoxeter market, Staffordshire. “It is traditional that prices ease in January, although Id like to think that I was wrong,” he said.

But at the end of the day no one has any idea what is going to happen, said Mr Uffold of Ludlow. “It depends how many cattle come through. If the cattle arent there then the prices will keep up,” he said.