By FW staff

DEMAND for store cattle is buoyant as farmers talk more confidently about the long-term beef outlook.

Trade at Ross-on-Wye at last Saturdays offering of 700 was the dearest at the venue since the BSE crisis struck, says auctioneer Richard Williams.

The brisker finished cattle trade and better sward conditions contributed, he says. “Grass is growing well. This time last year, we were having dreadful conditions and nobody wanted to turn cattle out.”

Stock was making £20-£30/head more than at the Ross sale a month earlier, adds Mr Williams. “Farmers are more optimistic,” he says. “But whether that optimism is founded or not is another matter,” he says.

Richard Wood, auctioneer at Ashford, Kent, also advises caution. “I still think the store trade is too dear against the fat trade which is not getting any better.

“The prospects for the finished trade are a bit brighter in the long term – but its a case of how many hiccups we have between now and then.”

At Longtown, Cumbria, auctioneer Haig Murray has seen some renewed confidence among bidders around the store ring, with subsidy potential a key factor driving demand. Some of the smaller cattle of green CIDs have been making more than £400, he says.

Farmers are also re-investing money made on stores bought cheaply last autumn. Heifers bought last back-end for £200 have been sold for £400 and bullocks costing £300 have been sold for £500 recently. “A decent-sized one can make £600. Its a long time since we have seen that.”