Dairy cattle demand may see four-figure averages

Milk producers have shown a remarkable resilience to low prices this year and maintained a strong demand for in-milk cattle at all levels of the trade.

From small entries at local auction marts to the tail-end trade at big pedigree dispersals, commercial milk producers have been in action.

A growing number of flying herds has certainly helped sustain demand for dairy cattle, says midlands firm Bagshaws.

Auctioneer Meg Elliot says the trade for dairy cattle has exceeded expectations.

“It has been a lot better than we thought and it has been sustained throughout the year.

Even first quality cattle at our commercial dairy sales have been making 1000 and more.

“There is a determination among farmers to keep going and to put on more cows,” says Mrs Elliot.

In the heart of Cheshire’s dairy country, auctioneer Clive Norbury from Wright Manley says the demand for dairy cattle showed no sign of weakening throughout 2005.

“Those staying in milk are committed to dairying in the long term.

A lot of new parlours are being put in as milk producers gear up for the future.

We ended the year with a four-figure average at the Western Holstein Club sale and I see no likelihood of prices easing in the New Year,” says Mr Norbury.

West Country auctioneer Sally Mitchell of Greenslade Taylor Hunt said dairy prices had strengthened during the year, with cattle at the firm’s final sale of 2005 averaging 1000 a head.

“It’s either get out or get bigger, and those remaining in milk are increasing their cow numbers.

And it looks like the 2005 dairy cow values will be maintained into 2006.

There are also some early signs that youngstock supplies could be tightening and we have certainly never seen heifer calves in such demand.”