29 September 1995

Dairy cows set to hold firm

DAIRY cow values, which have marched upwards in recent weeks, look set to stay firm throughout the autumn.

With first-quality Friesians averaging £909 in the week ending Sept 20, prices have now not only risen above 1994 levels, but have also topped the £900-mark for the first time since the middle of May.

"Trade improved almost immediately after the rains came," says auctioneer David Millard at Frome, Somerset, who puts the recent improvement at about £150.

He suggests recent milk production figures and increased optimism about forage supplies may have improved confidence.

"All the autumn buyers seem to have come into the market at once," remarks David Giles at Shrewsbury, Shropshire. He puts the rise in average prices there over the last month at about £250. Heifers, meanwhile, averaged £1053 last week – their highest level for 15 months.

"Values have been underpinned by the strong barren cow trade, and this shows no sign of lapsing," says Mr Giles.

Also predicting a firm autumn trade is Tauntons Derek Biss. He says that a large number of marketings were seen in the late summer, when many herds were dispersed.

"Now, supply and demand seem about level," says Mr Biss. "But with the main flush of sales easing up, demand might outstrip supply in a months time."

To David Millard, back at Frome, it was also a case of dairy cow values having got too low. "When one thinks of the productive capacity of a cow, they were just too cheap," he says. Trade for older cows has improved a little, adds Mr Millard, but they still remain relatively difficult to shift.n