Farmers Weekly - Trade Talk

1st April 2015

As I write this article we are about to have a sale on Good Friday. Unfortunately this first sale of the month only has an entry of 140 Store Cattle and 500 Store Hoggets. I look back through my diary to see how many we had when I first started my job here at Knighton in 2000, some fifteen years ago. We actually had 284, to my surprise, with store cattle averaging £393 per head! The next sale we had 973 which is some way past the 580 we expect to get at our Spring Prize Show & Sale of Cattle here on 17th April. I then remind myself not to look back but forward!

Last sale here at Knighton we had 225 Store Cattle of mixed ages and quality due to the time of year. The yearling steers were the trade of the day with some 290 kilo Charolais steers off about 1400ft making £840 per head. Overall steers averaged 231.90 ppk and £1,037 per head. Heifers averaged 206 ppk and £870 per head. More than ever now we get sales of mixed ages of cattle which is not a problem. This is down to the annual TB testing regime we are in within Powys. Our vendors sell cattle because they feel if they don't when they get the chance the door may be shut on them.

Last month I was kindly voted in for the fifth consecutive year as Chairman of the Welsh Livestock Auctioneers Association. After our AGM meeting I attended the Welsh TB Teams meeting with valuers who value cattle throughout Wales. I once again asked the question of what reassurance we could give farmers that things were improving. I will not give you the answer I received. I am afraid the Welsh Government's opinion is still that cattle movements are the cause of the spread of TB and not the wildlife. Why else would they not allow us to have Orange (TB) Markets in Wales that have worked so well in England? I would love to see the Gloucester Badger Cull Trial figures in relation to the percentage of cattle that now have TB in that area. I am led to believe the figures are very pleasing.

The drop in numbers of cows in our area really saddens me. Once where many Hereford x cows were kept on open hills with their offspring sold as weaned calves at 6 - 10 months we find hills with just sheep. We all know how good cows are at improving rough hill land. I too responded to the Red Tractor consultation. At present individual animal assurance is only achievable if and when the industry is provided with a suitable EID database which markets and others can electronically check animal lifetime assurance status. At present if the 90 day rule was abolished it would create a two tier market which, with diminishing cow numbers, is no use to anyone. We await the results.

I do hope the finished beef trade will pick up so that all our faithful store cattle purchasers, who have been supporting us for much more than fifteen years, will earn some profit.

Happy Easter all!