4 April 1997

Spring stores look buoyant

WITH the spring store cattle sales well under way, auctioneers are reporting buoyant values.

Too buoyant, according to some, considering the lacklustre finished beef prices.

"The store trade is pricier than we expected," says auctioneer Richard Evans at Hereford.

Most in demand, he says, are the good boned, out-wintered steers between 20 and 25 months old. Those that can be finished off grass this summer.

On blue CIDs, such animals have been between 106p and 120p/kg. But even thats over 10p/kg down on the past, says Mr Evans.

"Once they reach about 27 months old, however, buyers get wary, conscious of the 30-month-age rule."

Heifer demand has been harder hit. And if they do not have cattle birth record documents, buyers are very wary."

"Surprisingly high" is how auctioneer Geoffrey Dolling describes store prices at Taunton, Somerset. There, steers on green cards – at about a year old – have been making around the £450-mark.

But with weak beef prices, some farmers that would have bought some cattle to graze over the summer have "taken their foot off the pedal", says Mr Dolling.

According to Ian Smethurst at Banbury, Oxon, a lot of people are still "buying the subsidy".

But as he says: "If you have a grass farm, you have to do something with it."

Store cattle penned at Banbury, Oxon, last week prior to sale. Around the country, farmers have been bidding hard for stores this spring, despite the lacklustre beef trade. National figures show medium-weight finished steers, for example, worth less than 100p/kg for much of March.