Make more from surplus stock - take it to market

21st February 2013

Dairy farmers are being advised to take surplus stock to live auction markets to ensure the best possible prices.

Meg Elliott, pedigree dairy auctioneer for Bagshaw's and Leek Auctions, said prices for heifers, cows and calves have remained buoyant since 2012.

"It's worth remembering that if someone comes to your farm to buy stock then they are there for their benefit - not yours. So, unless you're lucky, you won't see the prices being realised at market in a private treaty deal."

She said taking stock to market required time and effort, but this would be rewarded in the current climate.

"Selling privately can appear to be a simpler option and I understand that for some producers it's an attractive option, but nine times out of ten you will realise a considerably better price for your stock at market, particularly at the moment," she said, adding that there was strong demand for all qualities of heifers.

Farmers who regularly take heifers to market can also establish a sound reputation as a vendor, which provides extra value because buyers have confidence in their stock.

Mrs Elliott reported that first-quality heifers were selling at a weekly commercial sale at Leek at a high of £2,340, while second-quality heifers also continue to sell well with many making between £1,800 and £2,000 a head. Trade for youngstock has also improved with a shortage of numbers also pushing the trade.

Auctioneer Tom Brooksbank, director of Norton & Brooksbank, agreed that trade was good, and said he expects strong dairy prices to continue through 2013.

"Thoughts were that prices would drop back a little due to rising feed prices and tight winter forage supplies. But that hasn't been the case. Dairy stock is still in short supply and producers need to keep that tank full, so there's strong demand," he said.

"The market is where the prices are set - it's the base, if you like. They have a crucial role to play and I'd always urge producers, or anyone selling livestock, to go to auction. That's where they're going to get a fair price and, at the moment, a good price."

Chris Dodds, Executive Secretary of the Livestock Auctioneers Association, said strong demand was making livestock markets an attractive option for dairy farmers.

"Last year was good for dairy farmers at the markets and this year we are seeing equally healthy activity. The advantage of the market for producers is that it is an open system of competitive bidding. The advantage for the buyer is they can see what they are getting," he said.