Heifers with passports worth more

10 January 1997




Heifers with passports worth more

By Tim Relf

By Tim Relf

FARMERS continue to lose money by not selling store heifers with cattle birth record documents.

That is the message from auctioneers, who say only a few such animals have CBRDs.

Without definitive proof of age, the dentition rules could exclude heifers from the human food chain, redirecting them into the over-30-month cull scheme at a compensation rate of 72.9p/kg lw.

As the differential between the compensation and the open market price has widened, so the cost of being precluded from an open market sale has increased.

And this is reflected in the increased confidence buyers show when bidding for store heifers with the paperwork.

"People do not realise the significance of the CBRD until they come to sell the stock," says Richard Wood at Ashford, Kent.

"For a store it can make the difference between a sale value of 80p/kg and 100p/kg. That could be £100 a head."

But it can be a difficult and costly business – especially if the animal has changed hands. For this reason, fewer than 10% of heifers have the documentation, reckons Mr Wood.

Auctioneer David Lockwood at South Molton, Devon, estimates between 10% and 20% of finished heifers have the paperwork; in the case of smaller stores, it is about one-third.

He agrees it helps the store price. And in cases where the stock has been born on the farm – or is among a large batch – obtaining CBRDs may be relatively simple and cheap.

Auctioneer Robin Screeton at Selby, N Yorks, reckons a CBRD could be worth £100 if it allows a heifer to be sold into the human food chain, when otherwise it might end up being killed under the cull.

And that is reflected in the price buyers are willing to pay for stores, he says.

"When animals are turned out to pasture in the spring, it will become harder to check dentition on a regular basis – so CBRDs will become even more important," adds Mr Screeton.

But with all cattle born after July 1996 having a passport, auctioneers say it is a temporary problem. Animals born before this date will, eventually, all be sold.

Meanwhile the big differential between steer and heifer prices remains. At Taunton, Somerset, auctioneer Geoffrey Dolling sold a bunch of store steers on green cards for £480 each.

A group of similarly-sized heifers made £210 less, reflecting the value of the subsidy payment available for male animals.


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