Farm Ireland

Tuesday 11 December 2018

Dairy expansion sees replacement heifers hit €1,400/hd

Carrigallen Mart. Photo Brian Farrell
Carrigallen Mart. Photo Brian Farrell
High milk prices will boost trade this year. Stock photo

Lousie Hogan

The continued growth in the dairy herd is underpinning replacement heifer prices, say livestock agents.

Mullingar-based agent David Clarke said spring-calving heifers were generally making between €1,050 and €1,400/hd, with strong demand from new dairy entrants.

This view is shared by Tom McCarthy of Bandon Mart, who said good quality heifers were freely being quoted at €1,000 to €1,200/hd.

While Mr McCarthy said the trade had not kicked off in earnest as of yet, he predicted that the high milk price this year will give the trade a boost.

Mr Clarke, who heads up, said the firm was moving around 100 animals a week to a mix of Irish, Northern Irish and British buyers.

EBI was the main selling point for buyers in the South, the Mullingar-based agent pointed out.

"The EBI index is important, buyers want quality stock from strong AI breeding," Mr Clarke explained.

He said many of the new entrants were using good breeding as an "insurance policy" against potential problems such as poor health or fertility.

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Although grass-based dairy farmers in the North and Britain will also look for high-EBI heifers, the majority of buyers on both sides of the North Channel wanted Holstein bloodlines, he said.

"Most of these guys are liquid milk men who want a cow capable of producing 30-40 litres per day," he said.

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