Unload heifers near to calving
WITH dairy management advisers singing the praises of milk from grazed grass, there is a latent demand for April, May and June calving heifers, although they are having to compete with demand for old cows bought for little money just to churn out a season of summer milk.
Dealers say they can offer super pedigree heifers for around £500, and claim that although there is a lot of demand, nothing is happening.
Timothy Garratt, of Rendells, Newton Abbot, says the message for anyone with heifers to sell is not to offer them until as near as possible to calving. "Farmers are looking for something that will produce without delay. They would rather pay £100 or even £200 more to have an animal in June, than pay for it now."
Prices are currently lower than they were at the same time last year, but Mr Garratt says that they can be moved as long as they are good quality.
He expects over-all prices to improve. "Theres going to be quite a shortage in a little bit. A lot of specialist heifer rearers have given up, even though the shortage is not yet evident."
Another influence with a built-in time delay is the drop in number of dairy inseminations, brought on by zero recovery for pure dairy calves.
The dynamics of buying have also changed, with the main customers now being large dairy herds, rather than the 50-cow flying herd using a beef bull. "That kind of farm is rapidly going out of fashion," says Mr Garratt.
On the other hand, David Millard, of Cooper & Tanner, Frome, says July, August and even September calvers are selling as well as anything. The best are making £550-£600, but thats barely half what they were making two or three years ago.
To anyone hoping to capitalise on a few surplus replacements he says: "Keep them and calve them down, if you have the facilities, then sell them freshly calved. Otherwise, sell them at least a month before calving." *