Will the price of dairy cows reach a level at which milk producers just say no? According to auctioneers, the first signs of resistance to the current all-time high value of dairystock is already becoming evident.
But news that UK milk production is at its lowest level for more than 35 years looks set to further bolster confidence among producers and take prices even higher.
Cheshire auctioneer Stuart Hassle of Wright Manley says the spiralling prices at recent sales have meant some potential buyers have gone home with empty trailers.
“All classes of dairy cattle have reached a high level and some producers are beginning to dig their heels in. But there’s no sign that prices are going to ease back and it’s looking like we’re heading for much tighter supplies too, so that’s bound to keep demand on a high.”
At Wright Manley’s mid-month collective sale at Beeston last week there were 16 bids over £1700 on a day of frenetic trading for every category of stock.
Even a bunch of unregistered, non-recorded Holstein yearling heifers – that may have struggled to make £500 apiece a few months ago – found a string of buyers paying up to £1000 each.
The sale’s top call was £2220 for a calved heifer by Comestar Stormatic consigned by E V and B Boughey and Son, Tarporley, Chester.
Giving 32kg on the day, she stayed locally with Cheshire buyer D J Guy. Regular vendor Alan Outram from Bury, Lancashire turned up with a strong team and achieved £2100 and £1920 for his top two heifers.
In-calf heifers from local vendor W E Platt reached £1450, with bulling heifers from R C Rutter and Son, Northwich, Cheshire selling to £920.
Even cross-bred cows sold well, with a fresh Jersey x Holstein heifer from Alan Outram making £1700.
And black-and-white cattle with plenty of traditional Friesian breeding were in favour among buyers looking for a quick return on their investment from spring grass when 103 entries were offered at Chard, Somerset.
Auctioneers Greenslade Taylor Hunt staged the dispersal of the Adams Brothers’ herd at Manor Farm, Forton where bidding reached 2200gns for an in-milk heifer that was five months into her lactation and giving almost 30kg. By Star Patron, she stayed locally with D and M Brunt.
In-calf heifers were a flyer with one by Silver-Shade MB Saunders making 1680gns. A bulling heifer by Ghezzie Basar Tuaspe made 1150gns and yearlings reached 780gns for an Esquimau daughter.
The sale’s 73 milking cows and heifers averaged £1355 with 10 served heifers at £1166 and bulling heifers £955.
A consignment of 80 March calved organic cows and heifers on behalf of Messrs H and A A Wastenage, Budleigh Salterton met with a keen demenad at Holsworthy last week.
Cattle comprised extended grazing types with a combination of New Zealand Friesians, Jersey and Shorthorn crosses.
Top price was a call of £1600 for a Dairy Shorthorn cow, closely followed by a bid of £1560 for another. Holstein friesians topped at £1580 with Jerseys selling to £1420.
Caption: Demand for dairy cattle is continuing to rocket and push the price of replacements well over the £2000 mark say auctioneers.