22 December 1995

Dip for dairy cows but…

COMMERCIAL dairy cow prices have fallen, although quality animals are still selling well and to a premium.

Unexpectedly high lease quota values towards the end of the trading period had an influence, says auctioneer Malgwyn Evans at Carmarthen. And there has been a "knock-on" effect from the weaker barren cow trade which puts a bottom in the market.

Furthermore, the cattle industry is depressed generally at the moment, he adds.

Similarly, Andrew Wallace found stock much harder to sell last week at Beeston Castle. There, demand has "gone from green to amber" and trade for the best animals has fallen about £150. Poorer sorts, meanwhile, are about £200 cheaper.

As always, the older, low-udder cows are hard to cash, as are small heifers giving less than 4gal a day, he says.

"The recent BSE publicity, however, has only had an indirect affect," says Mr Wallace. "Farmers have postponed selling cull cows because of it – and therefore have not been buying more stock to replace them."

But the first quarter of next year may see increased demand as farmers will have a better idea of their fodder stocks and production levels, he believes.

Also of the opinion that demand may swell in the new year is David Giles at Shrewsbury. Some farmers were unable to lease their quota out at the prices they hoped for, and therefore have decided to produce the milk themselves, he observes.

Cows topped at £1000 and heifers at £1050 last week at Shrewsbury. "Best prices are normally above this but the quality was down," says Mr Giles.

Similarly, Hallworthys Barry Colton is confident of a firm outlook. "January and February are months of strong prices," he says. "Theres always someone looking to fill their quota."

And, as David Millard at Frome says: "With milk the price it is, cows look very good value. I cant see them getting any cheaper."