10 November 1995

Friesian cows bounce back

AFTER falling briefly last month, first-quality Friesian cow prices have bounced back up to late September levels.

The fall in values resulted from the combination of a "deluge" of sales and a slight upturn in the quota leasing price, according to Tauntons Derek Biss.

But with the number of marketings now beginning to "dry up", values are set to remain strong, says Mr Biss. "The profitability of the milk sector and firm barren cow trade continue to underpin the market," he says.

The easing of the fodder situation has been a factor, too, according to auctioneer Malgwyn Evans at Cardigan. There, prices are ranging from £600 for third-quality stock to £1100 for top-notch heifers.

Similarly, at Hallworthy, auctioneer Barry Colton has noticed a big spread of prices. Purchasers are becoming much more discerning, he says, but they are prepared to pay for quality. And this has resulted in demand for the best entries being "extremely buoyant".

Last week freshly-calved heifers made up to £1350 at Hallworthy, reflecting, says Mr Colton, the "optimism" in the dairy industry.

Recent milk production figures, and the current price of quota are other factor encouraging farmers to buy stock, points out Cardigans Mr Evans.

But the relationship between the price of quota and the price of dairy cows may be less marked than in previous years, believes Derek Biss at Taunton. "So many animals have been culled this year that an underlying shortage will continue to give support to the market, whatever level quota is trading at," he says.

"There has been a colossal amount of culling," agrees Crewes Clive Norbury. The price of cows fell away last autumn, but they should now stay firm, he adds. &#42