No backlog ahead of weight limit end

By Simon Wragg

ENTRIES of cattle into the over-thirty-month-scheme are expected to slip as producers await the removal of the upper weight limit next month.

But few auctioneers expect to see a backlog build up.

Word soon spread following last Fridays meeting of the beef management committee in Brussels.

Reports outlining the removal of the 560kg ceiling for compensation on 5 June, coupled with talk of a recovering Euro clearly had an impact.

Many producers decided to withdraw culls provisionally entered for disposal, report auctioneers.

“The phones have been red hot,” says Frome markets David Lock.

Others had anticipated an announcement. David Kivell of Holsworthy market, Devon says OTMS entries have been in decline over the past month.

“We have provision to send 250-300 cattle a week, but numbers have been nearer 100.”

Not all producers will benefit from holding cattle back.

Dairy producers have done a good job of ensuring barren or cull cows are not carrying excess weight, says Peter Kingwell of Chippenham.

As a result, those with stock under the limit should continue entering them on to the scheme.

Throughput at OTMS plants could be reduced further in the two weeks before the scheme starts.

Owners are already concerned that running costs are increasing.

Numbers fell following the end of the milk quota year.

Latest Intervention Board figures show 10,220 cattle were killed in the week ending 5 May, just two-thirds of capacity.

After the changes are introduced waiting lists may be full for the first few weeks, suggests Greg Gagie of Bagshaws Uttoxeter market.

However, he doesnt expect producers to be in a rush to send stock away.

Many are grazing cattle cheaply at grass and are under little pressure to reduce stocking rates, he suggests.

Auctioneers agree suckler producers stand to gain most from changes to the scheme.

Those trading bigger Continental-bred cows could be better sending stock direct to OTMS abattoirs.

Here, payments will exceed the liveweight alternative for those animals which kill out at over 50%; the same applies for stock bulls and over-age feeding cattle.

Plainer sorts should continue going through markets to take advantage of the payments based solely on liveweight, suggest auctioneers.

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