One of the reasons I write this blog is so that it can be a sort of journal or diary. I’d love to be able to read a diary from my grandmother’s time – what they paid for items, how much they got for their calves, her daily chores, what she enjoyed, what she found tedious, how she managed bringing up 9 children. Some time ago I found a document from 1973 and it was so interesting reading about milk and cattle prices then. ?I wonder will any of my grandchildren find this interesting?!
The price of dairy cattle is much in the news at the moment – at least in the Farmers Journal and in farmers minds! We are calving down almost 50 heifers this year and culling about 8 from the herd (older cows or ones that didn’t go in calf). ?While we will keep some heifers in the herd, we’re selling quite a few plus some second and third calvers. Some farmers prefer to buy a ‘second calver’ as a heifer won’t give as much milk in her first year of milking.
I think it was 4 years ago that Brian went to the mart and couldn’t get ?1500 apiece for his 8 heifers/cows so brought them all home and sold them privately later for an average of ?1750. ?With the abolition of quote in 2015, many farmers are increasing their herd size and with the bad weather last summer, the quota is very unlikely to be exceeded this year so it was expected that the sale price would be good this year.
We’ve sold 20 cows/heifers, struggling to get them up to ?1400 at the mart! ?Judging by reports in the Farmers Journal and speaking to the Kilkenny auctioneer recently, plenty have left the ring unsold and good ones were making ?1200-?1400. George Chandler said he’d even written an article in the Kilkenny People about how culling cows and replacing them with heifers is a no brainer at the moment and I guess it is – if you can buy a good EBI heifer for less than ?1400 and a fat cull cow can make you close to ?1100, you’re not really losing out! ?As you can imagine, we decided to hold on a few weeks before trying to sell more.
Why is the price so low? I guess it is partly because it is so cold that grass isn’t growing, many farmers are low on feed with the poor summer last year so they just don’t have the feed for more stock and maybe cash flow is an issue too. Reports in today’s Farmers Journal state that prices have improved and freshly calved heifers sold at an average of ?1400, with some up to ?1650.
The cows are out by day at the moment – a short day of being let out at around 10:30 to eat their fill till around 3 or 4pm. ?With the frost every night, the ground just isn’t warming up and we don’t want the return of the rain that is forecast for next week either. ?On the positive side, we have plenty of feed, there’s no problem supplying extra milk so we could afford to wait a couple of weeks to see if prices increase somewhat – as long as the bank manager doesn’t start dropping heavy hints!!
Next up – a post where I’ll be reviewing our different feeders for feeding calves!!