By Farmers Weekly staff

MANY price-squeezed producers are looking for milk from grass now, with no complications and it is strongly influencing the trade in milkers.

Gloucester-based auctioneer Gwilym Richards lays this sharp switch to milking cows off grass at the door of consultants.

He says they have been singing in unison on this course of action. “Theyve all been telling people exactly the same thing.”

Dairy cow prices have improved steadily since the start of the new quota year, and especially since the middle of May.

Although keenest demand comes from grassy south-western farms, he says people came from far and wide to buy. “It defies the milk trade.”

“Trade has been much sharper,” agrees Derek Biss, of Greenslade Taylor Hunt, Taunton.

“Prices have gone up quite dramatically during May.”

He puts the firmer tone down to a decline in the number of dispersal sales after the flush in April.


quota link Bruton Knowles

His most recent sale, of non-pedigree, all-year-round calving Friesians, realised an average of 602/head “100 more than they would have fetched in early April” with the keenest bids coming for mid-range cows, reflecting buyers who plan to milk cows off grass throughout the summer, then sell them again, without even inseminating them in many cases.

“This spring, people are wanting young cows, rather than freshly calved heifers, mainly because heifers are more trouble and dont yield as much,” says Mr Richards.

“Existing producers herds are getting bigger because dairying is still the best area to be in.”

Another factor in the buoyant trade is the scrapping of the 560kg ceiling on the OTMS.

“This is having an effect on the bottom end of the trade,” Mr Biss says.