Thursday, 3 September, 1998

By Tim Relf

DAIRY cow prices could weaken this autumn, as big numbers hit the market, farmers are being warned.

“Im hoping for the best, but prepare for the worst,” says Chris Norton of auctioneers Norton & Brooksbank. He says the “buzz” is missing from the trade.

“You can sell cows but people arent prepared to pay much for them,” he adds. “Buyers are taking the view that, if they cant get them at the right price today, therell be others on offer tomorrow.”

While the market could be over-supplied this autumn, there will not be the mass exodus of farmers from the industry that some are predicting, says Mr Norton. Best cattle will continue to sell well, but they have to be good all-round, he adds.

Clive Norbury, of Wright-Manley, predicts that, in the commercial sector, ordinary cows will be worth £300-£500, while the better end could be worth around £900. Older cows, spring calvers and anything with cell count problems are hard to shift. “People want decent cows that are fresh and giving a lot of milk,” says Mr Norbury.

David Giles, of Halls, says while cull-cow values are low, the differential between this and the replacement price is much the same as ever. “Now could be a good opportunity for dairymen to go out and get better-quality cattle than they have had before,” he says.