22 March 2002

TB restrictions will cut supply

AUCTIONEERS are warning that fewer calf and store cattle supplies will be available this year as more farms are placed under tuberculosis restrictions in Wales and the Welsh borders.

"I know of clients who have started killing beef-cross calves they would normally take on for beef, or sell to finishers," says Huw Evans, store cattle auctioneer for Bob Jones-Prytherch, who spent Monday valuing TB reactors on Carmarthenshire farms.

Jim Evans, a store cattle marketing specialist and consultant with Powys auctioneer Morris Marshall and Poole, agrees and is so worried about TB that he has asked former local MP and farmer Lord Hooson to initiate a House of Lords debate.

But TB is not the only reason for a shortage of store cattle, says Chris Voice of Hereford Market Auctioneers. The number of cattle slaughtered during foot-and-mouth and farmers adjusting to new auction market rules is also having an effect.

With supplies tight, prices have continued upward. Keith Davies of Welshpool Livestock Sales says 150p/kg is not uncommon for a first class Continental cross steer eligible for two subsidy claims.

He is concerned that renewed testing will put more north Powys farms under TB restrictions, cutting the number of reared calves and stores forward.

Buyers from far afield are putting an edge on bidding for store cattle at Abergavenny. But auctioneer Lyndon Trumper says that a TB hotspot in Monmouthshire is limiting the number of available cattle.

"Undoubtedly, TB is having an impact on the movement of reared calves, stores and breeding cattle in the area. It is very encouraging to see finishers having the confidence to pay £500 for a 350kg steer on a green card, but many breeders are prevented from selling."