Store trade continues to hold firm
By Tim Relf
TRADE for store cattle continues firm, despite the seasonal increase in marketings.
And auctioneers suggest that, although numbers may rise further over the next few weeks, prices will hold or push upwards.
The all weights average steer price in the week ending Apr 15 was 129.7pkg, compared with the figure, four weeks earlier, of 124.5p/kg. One year before, the average was 128.6p/kg.
Demand, however, remains selective. "Good-quality cattle with a bit of size are particularly sought after," says Richard Wood at Ashford market. There, steers between 10 and 13-months-old, on green CIDs, have been selling well.
Small heifers, however, have been harder to shift. "Its because theres no payment attached to them," says Mr Wood.
Similarly, at Lancaster, strong, hard-wintered cattle have been selling far better than smaller, stirky sorts. "We are now at the stage where about half of the stock sold can be turned out straight away," says auctioneer John Hughes.
Having seen trade harden slightly, he now expects numbers to rise and prices to remain steady.
At Gaerwen, auctioneer Mald- wyn Williams suggests that a buoyant trade for strong stores will be maintained, with rising prices seen for the younger stock. "Trade for animals between 18 months and two-years-old should improve," he says.
Also predicting a continuing firm trade is auctioneer Keith Rose at Northampton. He has seen stores making £30 more than at the same time last year – despite the fact that marketings are more than twice as high as then. Recent high prices there among the steers include £935 for a Charolais and £880 for a Simmental.
The importance buyers are placing on the colour of an animals CID has also been noticed by Mr Rose. "Buying a blue CID beast, and selling it on the red, will probably cover the cost of grazing just from the payment received."
Cold weather has, however, delayed any take-off in the trade in some areas. At Ashford, as elsewhere, the "nights have been very cold" and numbers have been less than Mr Wood was expecting. They are far higher than the year before, however. "But theres a lot of stock waiting to come forward, and many buyers also delaying a week or two. So marketings will now increase," he comments.
And at Hereford, auctioneer Mike Duffield expects warmer weather and better grass growth to sharpen demand. "It could nudge up slightly," he says, "although often its the anticipation of the grass which pushes up prices. When it comes, trade sometimes slows a little." *