Rise in dairy values bodes well for 1997
By Jeremy Hunt
A COMPLETE turnaround in the value of dairy cattle as 1996 drew to a close has lifted the spirits of auctioneers, encouraging them to view their 1997 pedigree sales fixtures with more confidence.
Tom Brooksbank of Norton and Brooksbank expects a "decent trade" for pedigree black-and-white cattle this year. But he admits to being cautious about predicting a boom.
"The Dutch and the Germans are keeping a close eye on the market. There will be a trigger point at which they will move in and that could be when in-calf heifers nudge the 1200gns mark.
"It is a bit of a balancing act trying to see how outside influences such as the cohort scheme will affect the trade. Pedigree buyers are more discerning these days and cattle must have more than fashionable breeding to make them attractive.
"But there is an element of expansion within the dairy sector and those lifting herd numbers by 50-plus cows will, I feel, be prepared to pay a little more for quality cattle as clean milk and traceability become major issues," reckons Mr Brooksbank. The firm starts the year in style with the dispersal of the famous Eranda herd of Ascott Farms, Leighton Buzzard, which is being moved to the Penrith for its Mar 26 booking. About 200 head will go under the hammer.
MOET supporters have the chance to snap up stock at a special spring sale at the on-farm venue at Heddon-on-the-Wall in April.
And June is not the time for serious black-and-white breeders to take a holiday. They risk missing the production sale from Peter Padfields Hayleys herd, the second and final dispersal of Alan and Rosemary Sufflebothams Avondale herd and the Trans-Atlantic Breeders Sale at Broadway, Worcs.
One of the best ever
Clive Norbury of Cheshire auctioneers Wright-Manley describes his 1997 list as "one of the best ever". And he says several more well-known herds will confirm further sales dates soon.
"I am quietly optimistic about the coming year. It looks like we will be under quota and I expect a good trade for dairy cattle particularly during the spring. Our 1997 list contains some outstanding cattle from well-known herds, but, as always, these fixtures also provide commercial dairy farmers with the opportunity to buy genuine replacements.
"At our Crewe sales for the North Western Holstein Friesian Breeders Club we sell between 85% and 90% to commercial dairy farmers.
"I can only see this trend spreading to more pedigree sales as commercial milk producers seek to improve their herds in terms of type and production and milk quality," said Mr Norbury.
Among the dates already fixed by Wright-Manley are Mar 6 for the "Genetics for the Millennium" sale at Crewe, described as a "mouth-watering selection of world-class pedigrees".
And mid-April sees 250 head on offer from the Middlesex-based Beechbarn herd, followed by 200 cattle – including the show team – from Derbyshire breeder David Oldershaws Premium herd.
Other offerings include the milking portion of the North Wales-based Rossett herd, plus stock from Hawksmoor, Clayden and a late August "Summer Highlight" sale of Holstein Friesian bulls. *