Price of Dairy Stock

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?!

Irish dairy cows

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!!

6 thoughts on “Price of Dairy Stock

  • All things nice...


    Love your updates on farming, I am slowly learning and read the Journal (i.e. Farmer’s Bible) every week now. The weather is really annoying, if it’s not freezing, it’s raining and the ground is still wet enough here. We were lucky last Summer and got all our silage done when we had those two dry days, yes it rained almost every other day, I hope the weather improves this year. I am a bit confused with the Single Farm Payment scheme though, I’m trying to understand it. In ways it is very outdated now and some armchair farmers who only have a few cattle in the last few years are getting large payments as it was based on some reference year when they had lots! Doesn’t make sense to me! Maybe i have it wrong though. Looking forward to the calf feeders, will you include photos too, thanks.

    All things nice…

    • Lorna

      Aw, thank you, just about to write the calf feeder post now (with photos) but it might be tomorrow before I finish it!

      SFP is confusing, yes, some are getting ridiculously huge payments, some are getting payments based on what they produced back then but aren’t farming that actively now and there are plenty of hobby farmers who might get payments but aren’t progressive active producers as such.

      We bought land with good entitlements and our repayments are based on those entitlements so it could be fun and games if they are slashed – Katherine O’Leary wrote a good article on it all in this week’s ICL

      Cheers for your comment 🙂

  • Donna OShaughnessy

    Lorna, love to hear about your farm over there! And yes your GK’s will want to know. I printed off my firts years blog and made it into a book for my family. Surprised at how “high” your prices are. Here conventional hiefers got for about $1000 which I think would be around E950 and an organic heaifer for about $1200. We’d LOVE to have your prices. But its all relative isn’t it?

    • Lorna

      I guess it is Donna, I did see one American farm mention $14,000 dollars for a pedigree Brahms heifer (the ones with the hump) and thought oh, my goodness, but I guess that’s cos she was pedigree.
      Here’s hoping prices increase over the next few weeks – feel a bit like we are running to keep still at the moment but sure, that’s farming for you 😉
      Lovely idea to print it off and create a book – well done

  • jan c.

    My husband’s great-grandfather raised cattle here in Texas and kept a journal of what he spent and the things he did for both the ranch and his personal life. We are very fortunate to have it and it’s very interesting to read. It’s over 100 years old.

    • Lorna

      That makes for fascinating reading. I’m so bad at paperwork I know I’d never do that but it is good to keep a general idea I guess 🙂 Wasn’t it amazing the way the Edwardians and Victorians kept such good records of expenses for the households too – fascinating stuff



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