STORE cattle prices have dropped at the marts, as farmers fight shy of purchasing any extra beasts to feed over the winter months.

Crop shortages, caused by this year’s extreme vagaries of weather, means that farmers are having to source feed directly from suppliers at an expensive price,

They are therefore reluctant to take on the long-term responsibility of rearing store cattle.

Humshaugh dairy farmer Nicholas Robinson, of West Cocklaw Farm, said it was “simply not feasible for many farmers to keep store cattle for over a year right now, because the price of feed is so high.”

Mr Robinson also expressed concern about how the food shortages could impact on dairy farmers this winter.

“I’m about to dip into my winter rations,” he said.

“And I know other farmers who were forced to dip in during the drought this summer.

“At the moment gate prices are better than they’ve been for a while, but what happens when they drop during the winter months?

“We’ll then struggle to cover the price of extra feed, and therefore have a shortage of milk production, which means there won’t be enough selling at the gate to make a decent profit.”

On the contrary to the fall in cattle prices, reports of a rise in lamb at Hexham mart left Farmer Willie Wetherson, of Edges Green, near Haltwhistle, “very pleased with a good back end, considering that lambs were around £15-£20 down until this week.”

He added: “I’ve got 300 lambs left, and with the drop in cattle.

“I’m hoping that lambs prices remain attractive so I can make a profit before the end of the season hits.”