Extra grain for cattle might mean extra £s

21 August 1998

Extra grain for cattle might mean extra £s

By Tim Relf

WITH under-finished cattle getting discounted at markets, feeding grain could be well worthwhile.

As auctioneer John Uffold at Ludlow, Shropshire, says: "Farmers cant afford to feed them – but they cant afford not to feed them."

Stock that has been given extra rations outdoors can easily make 4p or 5p/kg liveweight more, Mr Uffold adds.

Duncan Sinclair, of the Meat and Livestock Commission, says people hoping to finish stock before housing should be considering extra feed. "Some cheap barley, perhaps."

It gives cattle a bit more bloom, he says. "Others can look a bit bedraggled."

But do not expect much improvement in the beef market in the meantime, warns Mr Sinclair. "It will be a relatively well-supplied meat market later this year.

"A lot more lambs will be slaughtered before Christmas and the price of pigmeat is extremely low – which will have an influence on the price of other meats."

At Lancaster, auctioneer John Hughes has also seen the weather take its toll. "We do not get two fine days together."

At the market on Monday, steers and heifers averaged 87.6p/kg and 88p/kg, respectively. Young bulls levelled at 94.9p/kg lw. But in some parts of the country the weather has been less of a problem. Peter Kingwill, auctioneer at Chippenham, Wilts, says: "After a time when the grass was wet, conditions miserable and the cattle pounded round the hedgerows, summer finally arrived. Cattle have benefited from some drier grass and the sun on their backs."

A lot of farmers have trough-fed this summer, though, that traditionally have not, he says. "A little bit of barley goes a long way at this time of year."

But cattle, nearing 30 months of age, are still offered for sale too lean, having "run out of time".

The gap between bullocks that are too lean and those that are just nicely finished can easily be 10p/kg or more. "It is a shame to sell them too lean at 550kg when they would be nicely fleshed at 650kg," says Mr Kingwill.

lBeef prices fell further this week, with finished steers averaging 87.69p/kg lw on Monday, down 1.52p on the week. &#42

The best place for grain could be in the cattle trough, with corn prices in the doldrums and well-finished stock making much more than their poorer counterparts. Walk it, rather than drive it, off the farm, as the saying goes.

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