Trade Talk with Jeremy Hunt: Store cattle getting dear at fast rate

We’re at that time of year when it seems like the money finishers are giving for stores bears little relation to the current price of fat cattle.

And this year is no exception, although even those with cattle to sell – and who were quietly confident about the anticipated trade this month – have been taken aback by the strength of the demand.

At Chelford market in Cheshire on Monday almost 100 head of stores – everything from young stirks to over 20-monthers – levelled at around £700 with the top price of £1095 paid for a 20-month-old Charolais-cross steer. Good enough you might say but the tale of one vendor puts the job into perspective.

He had three Limousin-cross stirks to sell – weighing around 250kg – and before he went into the ring said if they made £500 apiece he’d be more than happy. When they reached £550 he was generously offering luck money, but he was wearing the broadest smile of all when he left the ring having seen the hammer fall at £630.

Chatting to auctioneer Jonathan Farrell of Frank Marshall’s after the sale and he admitted stores were difficult to value in the current market – and were likely to get even more so.

“Stores are getting dearer at a faster rate than the fat cattle – and I can’t see things changing in the months ahead,” said Jonathan.

With the barren cow price doing little to encourage anything with a problem to be given a second chance and the fact that more stores were cashed-in for good money during the autumn, it’s to be hoped Macdonalds can find enough beef this summer to stave off the energy gap of those hungry Olympians.

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