Store values hold firm as demand lifts
By Tim Relf
GRASS growth and a buoyant finished trade have reversed the recent decline in store cattle values.
"The dearest this year" was how auctioneer Alistair MacMillan described last weeks sale at Ayr. He saw heifer and bullock prices up 7p/kg and 8p/kg on the week, respectively, to average 136.5p/kg overall.
He says the firm store values at Ayr (£50 a head above those of a year ago) have resulted from the high quality of many entries. "A strong demand from Irish buyers is also helping."
Mr MacMillan expects the firm business to continue for a few more weeks, particularly for the stronger stock.
"Prices are now more likely to go up than down," says Newark auctioneer Paul Gentry, who has noticed a particularly strong demand for young bulls.
"But if the quality is good, all ages and all classes of stores have sold well," he says. "Some consignments are, however, still lacking in quality."
As at many markets, Arthur White at Gloucester remarks that heifers – especially the poorer sorts – can be hard to shift. "Most demand is for animals that can be finished before the winter feeding period," he says.
And at Gaerwen auctioneer Maldwyn Evans points out that, although the influence of the finished trade on stores is particularly noticeable among the stronger stock, even the smaller heifers have seen price rises of £30-£50 a head.
The sharper fat trade, says Mr Evans, has resulted from the "lull" in numbers as the arrival of stock off grass in any number is awaited.
"Farmers have also been busy shearing and silaging," adds Ross-on-Wyes Neil Wright, "and this has contributed to the reduced clean cattle marketings."
The brisk trade has encouraged higher numbers to be marketed at Gaerwen. But entries are expected to decline within a couple of weeks.
Meanwhile at Lancaster numbers have already eased. "Entries will be about static now until July or August," says auctioneer John Hughes.
"As the export trade has resumed the better-quality calves are leaving the country. And this means the plainer ones tend to appear as stores in this country.
"Numbers will probably be static for a couple of months now. But I cant see any price increase in the immediate future," says Mr Hughes. *