Avoid busy markets to improve prices, beef farmers told

Beef farmers who avoid the busy autumn trade for cull cows can benefit from better prices, according to the National Beef Association.

Breeders who held cull cows back from November and December’s crowded markets have seen values rise by about 30% since early December, when average deadweight prices sank to 117p/kg. Beef-bred cows averaged just 61p/kg live weight at auction during the same period.

Finishers who held back beef-bred cows until mid-January were also able to command better prices, with average quality cows fetching 144p/kg, up from an average of about 80p/kg.

According to the NBA, the market recovered quickly once the autumn and winter trafe, which absorbs 40% of cull cows, had passed.

This proved there were “obvious messages” about careful culling and selling over the last quarter of 2007, Duff Burrell, NBA chairman said.

“Substantial amounts of additional money can be earned in 2008 if older suckler cows are directed away from the oversupplied market in late October and held over to early January market,” he added.