17 July 1998

Suckler cow demand is still buoyant

By Tim Relf

DEMAND for suckler cows remains buoyant, with values higher than last year.

"Not where they were once – but higher than they have been," is Norman Tweddle of Bagshaws view of prices. Cows with calves are still £600 or more, with the best making £900-plus, he says.

Alan Mummery of Lambert and Foster saw bidding reach £615 when breeding cattle went under the hammer at a dispersal last Thursday at Lovehurst Manor Farm, Staplehurst, Kent.

This was paid for a Simmental cross cow with a spring-born bull calf at foot. Such outfits are typically making £100 more than those with heifer calves which do not attract beef subsidy on the calf, says Mr Mummery.

Some demand is coming from farmers, attracted by the suckler cow premium payment, who traditionally bought stores. This payment is, says Mr Mummery, one of the few guaranteed sources of income at the moment.

A lot of producers have, however, gone out of the system – a combination of "disappointing returns and paperwork".

For those considering leaving, its critical to get the paperwork right, says Mr Mummery. "Buyers dont want to inherit problems."

The decision to leave may be encouraged by the prospect of a decent return from selling the quota. If a farmer has been losing money for two years, then the chance of £150/unit for quota could be a "trapdoor through which to escape".

An auction at Perth earlier this month saw average prices for non-LFA quota of £146 and £37/unit for sale and lease respectively. Scottish LFA averaged £123 and £34.50 for sale and lease. &#42