31 October 1997

Reinvestors help to lift dairy prices

By Tim Relf

DAIRY cow prices are on the up, as farmers look to replace cohorts. But supplies reaching the market are subsiding, after a hectic spell when dispersals were a daily occurrence.

"Trade is hotting up," says Derek Biss of Greenslade Taylor Hunt. For the people looking to re-invest cohort money, quality is paramount.

"Theres no shortage of dispersals of the smaller, unrecorded herds – but its the better-quality animals that are in most demand," says Mr Biss.

At Wareham, Dorset, earlier this month, the Blackmanston herd of Holstein Friesians was dispersed, offering a yield of 8844kg at 4.20% butterfat and 3.23% protein. The event saw cows average more than £1000.

It was a similar story last week at the dispersal of the Fleeds herd of Holstein Friesians at Tiverton, Devon.

This was a young outfit, boasting 55 first- to third-calvers, high PIN figures and a yield of 8520kg at 4.21% butterfat and 3.24% protein. An average price of nearly £900 was taken.

"I dont think Ive ever seen so many potential buyers go away empty-handed," Mr Biss said, after the Fleeds auction.

Demand, meanwhile, is shifting to the spring-calvers, as farmers try to cut costs and make more effective use of grass, he reckons. But these are in short supply, with many producers having opted for autumn-calving.

Alder Kings Rodney Moody points to the cheaper milk quota leasing values, compared with a year ago as contributing to the rising demand for dairy stock. "The leasing price is not as prohibitive."

The upper ceiling of about £300 on cull cows set by the over-30-month-scheme, however, is having a dampening effect, limiting the amount available to reinvest.

Stephen Dennis at Gisburn, Lancs, says modern, milky heifers can be worth £700-1100, but some fifth- and sixth-calvers are worth little more than £400.

David Lock at Frome, Somerset, has seen similar values. Providing records is important – even for the best animals, he stresses.

"Dont just present a freshly calved heifer at market – provide the paperwork, too, and then buyers dont just have to rely on the visuals.

"With cohorts taken, some people have money in their pockets and are looking for good quality replacements," says Mr Lock.n