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Livestock prices are back on top
IT’S a nice change for livestock producers to be appreciated after a long time in the wilderness and, to be brutally honest, our record high prices are mainly due to scarcity. With the January blues behind us, trade in all three sectors has lifted back to pre-Christmas levels.
On Monday at York, the 63 Continental bulls averaged more than 196p per kilo and made up to a top of 223p; and at Malton on Tuesday, the clean cattle topped out at 242p.
Sheep farmers have taken advantage of a strong trade all season and a lot of lambs have already been marketed with the consequence that hoggs could be scarce over the next two months.
Top prices in the market are already exceeding £100 per head and don’t look like dropping.
With such demand, there is only one place to sell and that is the live auction, if you want the best prices.
Deadweight systems, and that includes collection centres, can only trail behind, so why not support your local market.
Schmallenberg virus increasing
One Norfolk vet reports that of his ten clients that have lambed so far, six of them have got the disease, leaving deformed and stillborn lambs. The severity of the Schmallenberg virus varies from two per cent to 25 per cent of lambs affected. Looking over the Channel, there are about 700 cases confirmed, the vast majority of which are in sheep.
It is too early to tell whether the cold weather will have killed off the midges that carry the virus but we need to be vigilant.
Icy weather lifts OSR trade
The drought in South America has been carrying its share of responsibility for the lift in the grain trade generally and bad weather again has played its part in raising the price of OSR in the past couple of weeks.
Temperatures in the Ukraine and some East European countries have plummeted to minus 25ºC and there are mixed views as to what damage has been done to the winter-sown crops.
Some believe that there is sufficient snow cover and others that the plant population has been decimated.
As a consequence OSR has lifted to £360 to £365 per tonne with, I suspect, the odd showing at £370.
Wheat continues to creep gently forwards and has now topped £160 per tonne for most on farm sales.
Pig and pork worries
THERE was a very interesting article last week by Ian Mosey pleading for a level playing field in the pork market and asking the Government to ban imports from countries which do not comply with welfare standards.
The new Welfare Regulations come into force on January 1 next year and so far only three member states, that is ourselves, Sweden and Luxemburg, are compliant.
Another four are on track to meet the deadline, but the remaining 20 EU countries are not even supplying the data necessary to make a judgement on their progress.
Meanwhile, the commercial reality is that it costs about two per cent more to implement the welfare rules and British producers are disadvantaged.
I saw an interesting article on a survey carried out by BBC’s Countryfile programme in which they found that 90 per cent of people buying food felt price was most important, but the second most important issue with a similar percentage of the poll considered animal welfare issues.
With pork almost half the price of beef and lamb, let us hope for a positive 2012 for our pig producers.
Farmers in concert
THE ever popular Singing Farmers are to stage yet another tour this year and our nearest venue is Kirkbymoorside Memorial Hall on Sunday, March 25, at 2.30pm. They have raised more than £80,000 for the Agricultural Benelovent Fund and deserve our support, not only for the good cause but also the excellent entertainment.
Tickets are £12 and are available by phoning the ticket hotline on 07855 992834.
FWAG is born again
LIKE many of you, I got my letter from Nick Ramsden, chairman of our County Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group which was forced into administration before Christmas.
The Yorkshire region has always been profitable and our three northern committees have amalgamated to create a new advisory centre called Yorkshire Farming and Wildlife. If you want to get in touch you can email Nick Ramsden on mytongrange@ farming.co.uk
FORWARD 84 cattle, including 12 bulls and 18 cows, 949 sheep, including 197 ewes, heavy steers to 219p DB and SR Wass, Sinnington, ave 203p; heavy bulls to 213p, I D Watson Farmers, Fadmoor, ave 201p; medium heifers to 209p, A Cussons and Sons, Kirkbymoorside, ave 192p; heavy heifers to 242p, G D Nutt, Thirtleby, ave 208p; OTMs to 199.5p, T J and S Maw and Son, Thornton Dale, ave 146p; medium hoggs to 214p, West Heslerton Farms, West Heslerton, ave 204p; standard hoggs to 226p, M Ward and Son, Great Habton, ave 209p; heavy hoggs to 221p, M Ward and Son, Great Habton, ave 193p; overweight hoggs to 185p, S R Grayson, Pickering, ave 177p; Ewes to £150, M D Medd, Sawdon, ave £98.