Late lactation cow bargains
WHILE many markets report a firmer trade at their weekly sales of commercial dairystock, milk producers are being urged to look at late lactation cows and in-calf heifers for the real bargains.
Cheap milk off grass is helping to lift spirits around the dairy sale rings. Although a rapid return on investment keeps the bank manager happy, auctioneers believe lying-off cows and winter calvers could leave the best profit in the longer term.
"In recent weeks, with the best demand coming for fresh calvers capable of giving an instant return, it is the good young cows and heifers that wont calve until the autumn that I really shed a tear over," says Carlisle auctioneer Edward Brown. "Without a doubt they are outstanding value for money,"
He believes young lying-off cows and in-calf heifers are selling at disproportionately lower prices compared to fresh calvers – possibly discounted by 50%.
"At £700-£900 for fresh calved cattle, the autumn and winter calvers are a gift at £350-£400."
Other markets are encouraging dairy farmers to look more closely at autumn and winter calvers and to buy now. "Many off-lyers are confirmed in calf and carrying calves by fashionable bulls. I know people will be saying in January that they should have bought cattle now," added Mr Brown.
David Millard of Frome Market in Somerset agreed. "I acknowledge that cash is tight and that the majority of farmers want newly purchased cows to put cheap milk in the tank but for those who are prepared to look forward there is no doubt that many of the autumn calving cows and heifers being offered are a snip at around £400 each."
Recent weeks at Frome have seen dairystock improve by £100 a head with fresh second calvers reaching almost £800. At least 40 individual bidders were buying at last weeks regular sale.
"There is still a deep commitment to milk production in many farming families and at some sales we have seen autumn and winter calvers sell quite well. Perhaps the penny is beginning to drop as people realise just what a good prospect they are," said Mr Millard. *