Feed fears con­founded as cat­tle prices ‘hold up well’ in au­tumn

The Scotsman - - Weather / Farming - By BRIAN HEN­DER­SON

Trade for store cat­tle and breed­ing stock held up well over au­tumn ac­cord­ing to one of the coun­try’s largest farmer-owned auc­tion busi­nesses – con­found­ing the prophets of doom an­tic­i­pat­ing a col­lapse in prices due to short­ages of fod­der and straw fol­low­ing the long, dry sum­mer.

In an assess­ment of the sea­son to date, Aberdeen & North­ern Marts (ANM) said that de­spite a slip in prices in the early cat­tle store sales, a re­turn­ing con­fi­dence and the avail­abil­ity of more win­ter feed than ex­pected – although at a cost – had re­sulted in prices ris­ing at the later sales.

“De­mand for cat­tle has been bet­ter than ex­pected and there are still some good cat­tle around for the dis­cern­ing buyer,” said the com­pany’s head of live­stock, John An­gus.

“The sharp in­crease in feed costs is a con­cern – how­ever the good run of weather in the late au­tumn has as­sisted farm­ers with the later hous­ing of live­stock and the fod­der chal­lenges go­ing into the win­ter. The price of straw has eased since har­vest time and is ex­pected to hold at these cur­rent lev­els through the win­ter.”

But he ad­mit­ted that although fin­ish­ing cat­tle had done well over the back-end, it looked like the nor­mal pre-christ­mas surge in prime cat­tle prices wasn’t go­ing to hap­pen – with cat­tle com­ing to mar­ket ear­lier and a wait­ing list of two to three weeks at abat­toirs for pro­duc­ers to get their cat­tle slaugh­tered.

The com­pany said that store lamb prices had also bounced back as the year pro­gressed – but fears of a no-deal Brexit, which could af­fect the lamb ex­port trade to main­land Europe, had seen gim­mer prices back by £10-£15 a head.

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