By Farmers Weekly staff

RULES governing which dairystock from farms clear of BSE can be used on units undergoing conversion to organic status is helping underpin some sale values.

At last weeks dairy sale at Frome, auctioneer Chris Reeks saw the dispersal of 165 commercial Holstein Friesians come under the hammer to achieve a premium estimated at 40 a head for cattle sold to organic enthusiasts over similar entries taken by conventional farms.

Soil Association rules state that farms in conversion can buy replacement heifers and cows from any holding, as long as they are not the progeny or a cohort of an animal that has been a BSE case.

For organic farms the ruling is tighter, only allowing stock to be taken from units clear of BSE since 31 December, 1993. Being clear of BSE is certainly helping sales.

There are a growing number of farms able to claim the required status and premiums from organic buyers certainly help the trade with more dispersals expected this spring, said Mr Reeks.

With the push of in-conversion contracts from dairies hitting the headlines in recent weeks, interest is growing.

According to the Soil Associations John Parslow more auctioneers are contacting the organisation to establish whether cattle coming up for sale can claim suitability for organic units.


quota link Bruton Knowles

Certainly, the added attraction for organic converters results in a large company of purchasers, and a good early season trade, adds Mr Reeks.

The entry from R Napper & Son of Pilton, Somerset achieved yields of 7000 litres and averaged 435 (65 more than the vendor had expected) to top at 890 for a third lactation cow by Donarini Chairman Valid.

However, over thirty months scheme compensation continues to put a floor in the market.

With last months revaluation of the Euro with a weakening of Sterling, it now stands at 274/cow (up 3 on February).