By Jeremy Hunt

SOME of the first farms in south-west Scotland to be hit by foot-and-mouth have taken delivery of suckler cows and calves, with prices slightly up on pre-February levels.

Although best quality outfits are expected to firm in value, the main uptake of beef cows for Cumbrias restocking programme is unlikely to affect the trade for some time.

Lockerbie farmer Tony Dempster lost his herd as part of the contiguous cull on March 28, but he was determined to restock at the earliest chance.

“I wanted to try to get back into a cash flow situation as soon as possible. We should now have some strong suckled calves to sell in January.”

David Thomlinson of auctioneers Harrison and Hetherington says farmers fall into distinct categories over restocking plans.

“There are those who are still in a state of shock and are doing nothing and others who will wait until the disease has completely gone before restocking.

“At the other extreme some are already buying suckler cows and bulling heifers on contract,” says Mr Thomlinson.

Alan Webber of Exeter-based auctioneers Husseys says good quality second and third calvers with a bull calf at foot are the most sought after in the west country, with prices slightly higher than six months ago.

“I think we will see more cattle offered for sale in the coming months as farmers off-load stock to cut winter feed costs,” says Mr Webber.

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