The Livestock Auctioneers' Association Limited (LAA)

Dairy Numbers on the Rise

9th December 2015

The current plight of the dairy industry is well documented and at the forefront of most milk producers minds. Although unlike in the past where we saw everyone in the same boat we are now seeing a variable sliding scale of milk contract prices across the industry. Prices and demand has remained remarkably buoyant throughout the year as producers strive to maintain their level milk profiles. Good quality commercial freshly calved 1st - 2rd lactation dams have generally ranged in price from £1350 - £1750, 3rd - 4th lactation £1000 - £1250.

It is true to say that as a result of the current crisis a number of producers have decided to disperse their herds which in turn has seen an increase of dairy throughput in the auction markets. Frome Livestock Market in Somerset has been no exception, although, the increase of numbers has not solely come just from clients deciding to quit the milk industry. In fact, only a very small percentage of the increased overall through put at Frome has been attributed to those having their hand forced to cease milk production. A reasonable number of dispersals have been carried out through the sale ring this year but the majority have been well planned in advanced and comprised of vendors who have naturally come to their retirement decision.

In addition to this, the substantial increase of producers changing to a New Zealand grass based system has seen large consignments of Friesian and cross bred cows being sold which are out of the required calving pattern as this type of forage based system requires a very tight early calving period to benefit maximum returns. These type of sales have become a recognised specialty at Frome dairy market and together with general increased confidence from new vendors Frome has seen numbers grow by close to 50% this year.

We are fortunate to have a tremendous clientele of local producer farmer buyers as well as those based further across the country and whom have been integral to the increased success of the dairy section in what is an already very successfully established livestock centre. Support must be rewarded by re-investment which is crucial to providing and maintaining a current and modern facility. The increased support has allowed Frome livestock market operators to go ahead in 2016 with planned upgrades to penning and milking facilities which will in turn show the commitment by the operators to their industry, clientele and show their confidence in the core values of the livestock auction and farming sector.