Farm Ireland

Sunday 17 December 2017

Bumper demand for Autumn-born heifers

Martin Ryan

DEMAND for Friesian heifers from autumn-calving herds is expected to be exceptionally strong in the coming months.

Prices for the small number of spring-born dairy heifers still available are currently running €100/hd ahead of last year's levels.

Friesian heifer prices topped the trade for calves at marts in the south of the country in the past week, exceeding continental bull calves by up to €30/hd.

It appears dairy farmers are already laying the foundations for a major dairy expansion, when quotas are abolished, by buying heifer calves now and holding them until they are ready to be served.

Tom McCarthy, manager of Bandon and Macroom Marts, said: "The Friesian heifer is making, on average, €100-110/hd more than last year, and the good ones are selling for up to €500/hd if they have paperwork going with them.

"A lot of the dairy farmers in this area held on to all their heifer calves this year. Supplies on offer have been tight and some farmers who sold the bulls bought in 10-15 heifers to rear, expecting to get more money out of them.


"Maiden heifers are selling for €1,000/hd and farmers are expecting the demand to continue with the improvement in the milk price a great encouragement for expansion."

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Kanturk Mart's Seamus O'Keeffe said prices were up by at least €100/hd on last year and there were lots of customers for any type of dairy stock.

"Few Friesian heifer calves have paperwork this time of the year, but customers are still looking out for calves from herds they know, and they are prepared to pay good prices for them if they come from a good herd," he said.

Pat McHugh, manager of Corrin Mart (Fermoy), said that, at present, there are few Friesian heifers being offered at the sales, but demand has been strong all season.

"Any Friesian heifer is making €250-300/hd and up to €500/hd for the good ones. Demand has been strong," Mr McHugh said.

"Farmers are looking at the demand and prices for maiden heifers. There is a strong trade for the good maiden heifers. They are making up to €1,100/hd.

"Farmers who have the scope to increase milk production are planning expansion and the market for dairy stock is looking encouraging -- and farmers rearing calves are planning to take advantage of that."

Irish Independent