Rearers help heifer calves

27 February 1998

Rearers help heifer calves

HEIFER calf prices have risen after an increase in interest from rearer-buyers.

Nick Oliver at Frome, Somerset says you can pick up reasonable heifers for £40. "They dont look a bad buy at that level." The best bull calves, meanwhile, are not far off the £200-mark.

"But there is still no depth to the trade. Any big influx of numbers and it would topple back."

John Bundy at Salisbury, Wilts, has also seen heifer demand rise. The floor put in the bull trade by the processing scheme means that farmers who once would have bought males at between £30 and £70 are now looking for females.

Rearing interest is still limited for the black-and-white bulls, because there are not enough of the best ones available for buyers to put together batches, says Mr Bundy. But this could change by July, he adds.

Meanwhile, nearly all black-and-white bulls remain destined for slaughter. As one auctioneer says: "When the export trade was open, the best destination for them was France. Now thats not an option, the best place is the incinerator."

This is a mirror-image of the situation with beef-type calves, of which about 95% are being taken for rearing, leaving the rest going into the processing scheme.

With the finished price of Friesians only about 10p/kg behind that of beef breeds, however, the black-and-whites look good value, reckons Richard Pringle at Exeter, Devon.

"Whenever there is a good one in the market, there is always someone to buy it."

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