26 January 1996

Store cattle at pre-BSE prices

STORE cattle prices have crept back up to the levels they were before the BSE scare, with an all-weights average of 118.3p/kg in the week ending Jan 13.

"As far as the store cattle trade is concerned, the BSE scare might never have happened," says auctioneer Scott Donaldson at Wooler, Northumberland.

Numbers at Wooler have been tight. But the firm prices will bring a few more out, he predicts.

"There are plenty of people looking for stores," he says. And with prices, in some cases, above those of finished cattle, there is a lot of confidence in the finished trade.

"The fat trade tends to drop at the beginning of January but this never has a large effect on store prices, as people recognise that it will rise again."

Meanwhile at Newark, Notts, auctioneer Paul Gentry says stores in the 280kg to 460kg range are selling particularly well. "Some of them are making up to £150 above their weight."

Though currently short, marketings could increase in early March, suggests Mr Gentry. A lot of farmers submit their BSP claims early in the New Year, and then sell the cattle after the two-month retention period, he says.

Similarly at Taunton, Somerset, auctioneer Geoffrey Dolling has noticed tight numbers. In some cases, they may be over 30% down on the same week last year, he says.

Prices, meanwhile, have resembled a "yo-yo", although the underlying trend has been upwards. "Good animals are selling well, but these can be difficult to find," says Mr Dolling.

The situation has been similar at Hexham, Northumberland, where auctioneer Trevor Simpson says price increases – especially since the New Year – have taken values almost back up the levels of before the BSE scare. Marketings at Hexham are now expected to rise.