AROUND THE SALES
BREEDING/STORE SHEEP: Last Saturdays offering of 6138 head at Malton, North Yorks, saw averages including £87.10 for Suffolk cross gimmer shearlings, £84.90 for Mule gimmer shearlings, £73.20 for Texel cross ewes and £65.76 for Suffolk cross ewes. The North Country ewes and Mule ewes levelled £60.54 and £60.20 respectively, according to auctioneers Cundalls. Store lambs averaged just under £42. Highest priced ram lamb was a Suffolk at £540.
COMPANY NEWS: One of the West Countrys largest auctioneering and surveying firms has been created with the merger of Greenslade Hunt and R B Taylor and Sons. The new outfit, Greenslade Taylor Hunt, will operate from 15 offices in Dorset, Somerset and Devon.
RAMS: St Asaph, Clwyd hosted the sixth annual ram sale for D T Jones, Ysgubor y Coed, last week. The top price of 510gns went to a yearling Suffolk ram. Averages were £249 for 109 Suffolks, £192 for 11 Charollais, £263 for 31 Texels and £294 for six Beltex rams, according to Jones Peckover.
HOLSTEIN FRIESIANS: One of the first milking daughters of Star-Bright Vu Foundation to be sold at Crewe made the top price of 1400gns at the North Western Holstein Friesian Breeders Club fixture. Clenchers Foundation Panther 2nd was one of the championship winning pair of heifers from Rea and Son, Ledbury, and had been calved two weeks. Buyer was Denis Lomas, Congleton. Trade was easier this month, but a Staffordshire buyer took home 31 head. Averages: 21 cows £755 and 115 heifers £891, reports Wright-Manley.
STORE HEIFERS: Farmers selling heifers off the grass this autumn should provide cattle birth record documents to verify dates of birth. That is the advice from Aberdeen and Northern Marts John Gregor. Farmers, he says, are not willing to take the risk of acquiring heifers which may not comply with the age criteria to be eligible for the human food chain. "Buyers are even more hesitant following the recent further reduction in compensation for cattle over 30 months of age," says Mr Gregor.
CULL SOWS: Although topping the 80p/kg-mark as recently as May, cull sow values have now dipped below 60p/kg. Average prices in the second week of July bottomed at 55.4p/kg. The first half of the year saw 11% more slaughterings than over the same period in 1996, putting pressure on prices, according to the Meat and Livestock Commission. Lower prices than 12 months ago have helped exporters however, who have faced adverse currency movements. Germany, for example, is a prime destination for sow carcasses. MLC export survey results show carcass exports up 12% so far this year on 1996.
CULL EWES: An alley full of buyers competed strongly for all the culls on offer, report Midland Marts from Banbury, Oxon, last Thursday. Well-fleshed Suffolks and Continental ewes regularly sold at between £45 and £55. Fat Mules were making £40-£45, with lean and half-meated sorts between £33 and £43. Small Welsh and Beulahs sold from £25 to £32 for meated sorts, with very plain ones around the £20-mark. Overall, lightweights and heavyweights averaged £27.38 and £41.13 respectively.
FINISHED CATTLE: Although wholesalers were looking to get cattle cheaper at Ludlow, Shropshire on Monday, prices rose on the week. And quality sorts were at a marked premium, according to auctioneers McCartneys. Medium weight averages were 100.3p/kg for steers, 97.4p/kg for heifers and 97.7p/kg for bulls.