Values of newly-calved dairy animals have taken a tumble – and it is little to do with milk price prospects.
More than a dozen milk buyers have announced price increases from August 1 or September 1 ranging up to 1.5ppl and, according to Ian Potter’s weekly bulletin, cheese manufacturer Dairy Crest introduced an extreme weather supplement to help producers address the additional expense of the drought.
Two of the markets with the largest throughput of dairy animals last week were Sedgemoor and Gisburn.
Both cited grass shortage as the main reason for the reduction in prices.
However there was a general consensus milk is in demand and it is for this reason that sound, freshly-calved young cows have been at least matching the better fresh heifers.
Sedgemoor’s end of July sale saw just over 100 dairy animals forward, including 85 milkers and auctioneer Derek Biss said all grades were at lower levels with second quality sorts meeting little demand.
“With milk and feed supplies short, cows attracted the most interest to top the sale at £1,650 and £1,570.”
However Mr Biss did note some improvement in the sale on August 4 following a spell of rain. Just under 100 head peaked around the £1,800 mark.
Gisburn auctioneer Fred Spurgeon said there was no evidence his vendors were selling under duress.
“Unfortunately though, many of their potential customers are from areas further south where the drought effects are worse and there are serious winter fodder concerns," said Mr Spurgeon.
"It was a tough day in the dairy ring.”
However, despite cautious bidding, prices for pedigree heifers did reach £1,900 albeit an estimated £300 down on values this spring.
Further north, Carlisle’s Borderway mart dairy auctioneer Glyn Lucas said recent rain had turned things around a little, although it was too soon to make predictions.
“There are still parts of south-west Scotland on lighter soils where it remains really dry," he said.
"I think we just have to wait and see but, either way, milk producers are either going to be spending money on cows or feed – and unfortunately both for some.”
Norton and Brooksbank conducted the pedigree Kilton herd dispersal with 10 topping 2,000gns, but auctioneers said buyers were avoiding older cows or anything with a fault.
A really fast trade for milkers was reported by Wright Marshall in the Cranage Holstein dispersal, but recently served heifers and maidens were ’the hardest trade of the day’ a spokesman said.