14 February 1997

Heifer replacement prices harden up

DAIRY replacement prices are hardening as BSE cohort tracing begins, according to Nick Kirby of importing agent Inimex Genetics.

He claims prices have hardened in the past 10 to 14 days, with in-calf heifers costing £200 more than six weeks ago.

Producers should make inquiries now to ensure a prompt supply when needed, says Mr Kirby.

But the advice of north-west dairy consultant Richard Lole is not to panic.

"In all but one or two extreme cases I am advising farmers not to rush out and spend the compensation on replacements. Prices for new calvers could firm in the short term but I believe the market will level out later in the summer. Supplies of replacements may not be as tight as some anticipate."

Mr Lole feels most milk producers will have adequate heifers on the farm to replace those lost to the selective cull. Waiting for home-bred replacements to come on stream looks preferable to rushing out and spending the compensation cash immediately.