The Livestock Auctioneers' Association Limited (LAA)

Trade Talk - Tom Brooksbank, Auctioneer, Norton and Brooksbank

6th December 2021

At last an upturn in dairy fortunes ?

We have sold over 1200 dairy cattle in November by auction and a vintage tractor, older than your correspondent, for £7000. Variety is the spice of life and we saw Pro-Cross cattle sell up to £2,200 in front of a tremendous crowd of 200+ for the Smith family in Staffordshire and over 170 animals making 2,000 guineas or more for John Edge & family on farm in Cheshire. Not that many years ago a sale of 250 head was deemed plenty for one day now we have no hesitation in cataloguing 500+ for a day. Auctioneering styles have changed and at the Edge’s Wimboldsley sale an animal was sold every 50 seconds and the trade was fast and furious throughout.

Our next event has been keenly anticipated since it was announced with considerable interest from UK breeders and from overseas. The Gould family’s Woodmarsh herd is certainly one of the very best and in some people’s eyes the best in UK. Timing looks exciting with one major milk company raising the price of milk by 3pence/litre with the promise of a further increase towards 40ppl soon. Single Farm Payments are due and a general shortage of cattle as winter approaches all point to an exciting day next week. Costs for fertiliser, fuel etc are of course eating into any increase in milk price but the trend is encouraging and retailers dare not have empty shelves so the price of the commodity must surely rise to keep supplies steady.

We could see quality fresh calved dairy heifers and young cows, not necessarily pedigree, reach £3000 in collective sales before long.

The punishing hours most dairy farmers work, the miserable conditions in bad weather, the massive investment and modest returns all underline the long overdue need to get the industry on a better financial footing.