7 May 1999

Surprise as weaner price holds

Surprise as weaner price holds

WEANER prices continue to hold despite overtaking the rise in finished pig prices.

That means finisher margins are tighter, but buyers continue to meet the trade as prospects of a shortfall in supplies is realised after the recent sow cull, report auctioneers.

"There is no doubt in the country about a shortage in weaners to come forward, but Im surprised prices are holding," says York-based auctioneer Edward Stephenson. "The fat price doesnt reflect the store price."

The markets weekly entry of 500 growers saw a firm trade with 8 to 10-week-old pigs average £28.24, 10 to 12 week olds average £29.07 and 12 weeks and older average £37.16. "With finished prices between £59-£64 a head theres very little margin," he adds.

With finished prices expected to improve to over £1/kg deadweight in the back end of this year some buyers may be spurred on to pay a bit more now to have stock ready. "I think many of the faces were seeing have contracts to fill and that may be driving it."

Elsewhere the picture is similar. At Melton Mowbray auctioneer Alistair Belton adds an air of caution to any suggestion weaner prices will continue to improve.

"I dont think producers have the long-term confidence," says Mr Benton. "If anything it is the smaller producer who is seeing a margin. Its certainly not bustling."

While 60kg stores are making £33 a head the real interest is in younger pigs: "But that is highly dependent on their quality."

Mr Benton suspects further strengthening of the weaner price will be hindered by the aftermath of the on-going pig crisis. Buyers are eager to take advantage of extra income from when finished prices rise, but are uncertain whether current predictions will live up to expectation.

SAC economist Garth Entwhistle says forecasts should hold true. Last years sow cull will reduce stores forwarded and make domestic supplies tighter. "There is confidence, but it will only remain while there is a preference for UK-sourced supplies (from retailers)."

At Colchester market Graham Ellis believes some buyers are confident, albeit tinged with bitterness. "Clearly, those who are in want to stay in and will continue to buy," says Mr Ellis. &#42

Used machines prove popular

SECOND-HAND grass harvesting machinery is back in demand and shows signs of following in the footsteps of strong trade last season.

Ross-based auctioneers RG & RB Williamss handling of the dispersal of tackle at How Caple Court, Hereford, saw a mass of willing bidders assemble from as far north as Aberdeenshire. Among the lots to go under the hammer was a John Deere mower/conditioner which took bidding to £740.

Still popular in traditional forage areas a Cooks bale sledge made £520. The associated Flat-8 bale grab found a new user at £270.

Other auctioneers are reporting a good start to the forage equipment season. Newbury-based Drewett Neate saw a 1996 WestMac SCT900 forage harvester ready to work go for a straight £5000.

Mowers are proving as popular as ever as shown by a Tarrup 307 mower conditioner which took bidding to £2200. &#42

TBand BSE-free Ayrshires a draw

BUYERS looking to acquire TB and BSE-free stock for conventional or organic herds had the pick of 200 Ayrshires when the Newbury-based Ashmansworth herd came to auction last Tuesday.

Buyers and auctioneer agreed that these factors put a premium on stock of more than £50 a head and yet still made them easier to sell than many black and white breeds.

Speaking before the sale auctioneer Gwilym Richards said the move to organics would drive some of the demand for non-B&W milkers. "This herd in particular is both TB and BSE-free and that has marketing pull for the that sector."

Top price of the day was 850gns settled by &#42 & A Partington of Yeovil, Somerset, for the third lactation Ashmansworth Twinkle 44th. Calved in February, she gave 8870 litres in her second lactation and was giving over 40 litres on the day.

Most mature cows went for between 700-800gns as ringside buyers chased summer milk. Demand for youngstock was slightly back, said Mr Richards. &#42

Stores in demand

DEMAND for quality stores remains strong, despite a small slip in prices.

John Ullford from McCartneys reports another good entry of 583 stores at Ludlow last Friday, which met a strong contingent of buyers. But prices were marginally down, with steers averaging 103p/kg on the weeks trade and more emphasis on quality.

Most Continental bred heifers were sought after – demand for Belgium Blues females almost matched that of steers at £1.02/kg – and, overall, females made an average of 85p/kg. But there was a significant lull in demand for poorer, lighter heifers.

Norman Tweddle of Bagshaws agrees. Heifer trade at Uttoxeter has been "very selective", and as usual better sorts took the best bids.

Good-quality steers are also needed and seem to be in short supply, warns Mr Tweddle. Those coming forward are in demand and continue to top the £1/kg barrier. This is giving a good margin of at least 10p/kg over other steers, which averaged 91.8p/kg. &#42

Making the grade… New season Dorset lambs go through the race under the watchful eye of fieldsman Chris Simmonds (left) and Adrian Dufosee at Church Lane Farm, near Warminster, Wilts. The light lambs averaged 35kg liveweight and are destined for Waitrose. Mr Dufosee also breeds Texel crosses to produce the main lamb crop.

SALES DIARY

May 8 Dispersal of Land Rover, tractors, machinery and livestock equipment. Clapham. Richard Turner & Son (01524-261444)

May 8 Sale of tractors, grassland kit and milking equipment. Lupton. Kendal & Preston Marts (01772-712066)

May 10 Dispersal of Bonhurst herd of Holstein Friesians (178 head) Frome. Cooper & Tanner (01373-831010)

May 10 Sale of tractors, machinery and 4wds. Ely. Cheffin, Grain & Cumins (01353-777767)

May 11 Sale of Croppertop herd of Holstein Friesian (174 head) and 100,000 quota. Lichfield. Bagshaws (01889-562811)

May 11 Machinery sale including five Zetor tractors, Fastrac, hay and silage equipment. Stanton. Lacy Scott & Knight (01284-763531)

May 11 Dispersal of Castlefrome herd of Holsteins (241 head). Ledbury. Wright-Manley (01270-250500)

May 12 Dispersal of milking portion of Hamlyn herd of Guernseys (45 head). Honiton. Stags (01884-255533)

May 12 Dispersal of milking portion of Broomdykes Holstein Friesians. Carlisle. Harrison and Hetherington. (01228-590490)

May 13 May show and sale of store cattle (600 head). Penrith. Penrith Farmers & Kidds (01768-862323)

May 13 Contractors kit including Same tractors, Claas Dominator 106 combine and crawler. Saxmundham. Clarke & Simpson (01728-724200)

May 14 Dispersal of six tractors and equipment. Harby. Shoulers (01664-560181)

May 13/14 Sale and show of 245 pedigree Charolais cattle; cows sold on 13, bulls on 14. Carlisle. Harrison & Hetherington (01228-590490)

May 14/15 Dispersal of Twelveacre pedigree Holsteins. 420 cows/heifers and stock bulls on 14; youngstock and machinery on 15. Nantwich. Frank R Marshall (01625-861122)

May 15 Sale of 134 cows, followers and store cattle. Also machinery. Ashbourne. Whittaker & Biggs (01538-372006)