Farm Ireland

Saturday 21 April 2018

High EBI heifers hit €1,700/hd

Declan O'Brien and Caitriona Murphy

British dairy farmers are reported to be offering €1,400-1,700/hd for spring-calving heifers from high EBI herds.

While Irish agents have been active in putting loads of heifers together for some British farmers, there have also been instances of buyers visiting yards in search of suitable stock.

Although the trade this autumn is slightly easier than last year, one buyer from west Cork who did not wish to be named said he had put together two consignments of heifers over the past two months.

He said the British farmers were after heifers for spring-calving herds. In the main, they are looking for stock which was bred to milk off grass.

Milk producers in Wales and England were keen to get high EBI herds as they have no comparable index in Britain.

A shortage of suitable heifers in Britain and higher prices have been factors in driving demand for Irish dairy stock.

However, buyers here pointed out that the rate of dairy conversions in Britain had slowed this year, while milk prices had also fallen back.

Meanwhile, the European Commission has confirmed that there were no offers from traders to buy any of the butter or skim milk powder (SMP) held in intervention stores.

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Around 1,545t of butter and 79,553t of SMP were held in stores after the last round of intervention sales.

The dairy management committee has steadfastly refused to sell SMP below market value throughout recent rounds of intervention tenders.

However, the absence of buyers for the stocks will be viewed with some anxiety by processors.

In other dairy news, IFA dairy committee chairman Kevin Kiersey said the forthcoming Dairy Investment Scheme, which was first announced more than a year ago, and which is to make €45m of EU funds available for on-farm investment, should facilitate expanding farmers, those needing to upgrade equipment and young farmers. He said this would be essential if the Government's 2020 target of a 50pc expansion was to have any chance of being delivered.

"It is absolutely essential that this scheme would give new entrants setting up in dairying a leg up. However, to deliver on the Government's ambitious 2020 dairy expansion target, Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith must ensure that all producers planning to expand production are eligible to apply for this scheme," Mr Kiersey said.