Holstein dairy heifers© Tim Scrivener

Larger throughputs have realised better prices at Market Drayton, Shropshire over the past three to four weeks with the Hassall Brothers reporting Holstein heifer trade peaking at £1,880 on Wednesday (10 August).

Leading the sale was Pickascott Glauco Maureen from B Pickering, Pontesford, who knocked down to D and HE Colclough, Sandbach, who bought the top-five dearest animals on the day.

Pickascott Glauco Maureen calved on 1 August and is yielding 32kg.

The Colcloughs also managed a top call of £1,860 for a high-quality heifer from JKT Jones, Westbury, and then bid to £1,780 and £1,700 for Coton-end Mincio Pablita and Coton-end mincio Rhian, two very milky heifers from Tomkinson Farm, Gnosall.

See also: Multi-society sale at Worcester tops at 2,000gns

Regular consignor JH Wynn and Partners, Fenns Bank, saw £1,620 for a heifer yielding 25kg.

Notably stronger cow trade saw highs of £1,760, £1,600 and £1,300, topped by a fresh cow giving almost 40kg from M Jones, Minsterley, also knocked down to the Colcloughs.

Shorthorns peaked at £1,100 for G Cornes, Crewe, and a pure-bred unregistered British Friesian from R Maydew, Church Stretton, topped bulling heifer trade at £710.

Price increases from processors have sparked a lift in trade into August, although auctioneers Stuart and Dan Hassall believe several factors are lifting cow demand.

Hard culling earlier in the year, particularly of early pregnancy cows, means some farms are short of cows to milk, according to Dan Hassall, who reports a trade being driven by less milk, fewer cows and farms keen to produce more autumn litres. 

He told Farmers Weekly that market direction will probably become clearer in October, when cows are brought back inside on this year’s mixed-quality silage.  

He added: “A lot of people have not been hitting profile and are getting penalised for this.

Some smaller processors have been putting prices up and a lot now hinges on what Muller does; this will affect trade in October and beyond Dan Hassall, Hassall Brothers

“We’ll know more in October as to where trade is going as this will reflect quality of forage and whether farms need to buy in more cows or not.

“Some smaller processors have been putting prices up and a lot now hinges on what Muller does; this will affect trade in October and beyond.”

In terms of averages, Stuart Hassall said trade is up compared with when they started weekly dairy sales at Market Drayton on 1 March.

“Back then we were happy just scraping a four-figure average.

“In March the top price was £1,500 for a pedigree heifer. More recently we’ve had unregistered heifers at £2,400.”

The week before trade topped at £1,900 with 50 lots forward.

Averages: 63 cows and heifers, £1,285; Pedigree fresh heifers, £1,520. (Hassall Brothers)