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Stackyard News Sep 06

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    Steady cattle marketing will help to maintain prices

The National Beef Association is advising finishers to keep a watchful eye on slaughter cattle numbers this autumn and use their adjustment skills to make sure supplies are even and choke points do not develop in the system.

beef cattle

It says there is no obvious danger of an overload of cattle on the market but is mindful that there are clear benefits for everyone if as much as possible is done to control supplies and minimise the chances of unnecessary price slippage.

"The overall situation is encouraging with the current UK prime cattle average 12-14 per cent higher that it was at this time last year when the industry was stunned by a price avalanche that rumbled right through to mid-October," said NBA chairman, Duff Burrell.

"The situation in the Republic of Ireland where there is a traditional surge of grass cattle onto the market is hopeful too. Currently prices there are 13-15 per cent higher than they were twelve months ago and there are consistent reports that more Irish cattle were killed earlier this year and that a repeat of last autumn's especially dramatic supply rush is not expected."

And with imports from South America, which made a hefty contribution to last year's price collapse, also being nipped by political, economic, and disease restraints the Association believes one of the crucial factors affecting stability this season will be domestic management of prime cattle and cull cow supplies.

"The NBA is not among those who think the market will be swamped by a massive, autumn, delivery of cull cows," said Mr Burrell.

"Our view is that the August 1996 birth date cut off is too early for the oldest sucklers that qualify for food chain entry to be culled out on a batch basis which suggests that those that do come forward from the beef herd are most likely to be individual animals that are judged not be fit for breeding."

"It is also significant that cow prices in the Republic of Ireland are 13-14 per cent higher than they were a year ago."

"On the dairy side we are also expecting more domestic finishers to take Grade 2 and Grade 3 feeding cows off the market and present them later when they will not only have put on more weight but in pence per kilo terms could be worth more money too."

"Cull cow prices across the UK have already made a useful recovery since the slide in mid-August and on this basis the Association anticipates that more feeders will be encouraged to invest in cows rather than let them move directly off the breeding farm into the abattoir."

"Prime cattle finishers can make their own contribution by remembering that chill room stocks for Christmas are mainly built up from the end of October onwards and that consumer demand for beef across both the UK and Europe has not looked better for almost 20 years," Mr Burrell added.

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National Beef Association