A DISPERSAL of 396 cows and heifers at Mortlake on Friday last week attracted “terrific” bidding on fresh cows but poor interest on plain condition, pregnancy-tested-in-calf heifers.
In all 303 sold for an average price of $1152.
Those passed in included 34 cows and most of the heifer offering.
The clearance rate disappointed vendors, Lee and Peter Campbell, from Simpson.
Ms Campbell said the family had “had enough of the industry” and were dispersing their herd as they had sold their property to a corporate farm.
“I think they passed in about 40 (heifers); the fresh cows making $2025 was terrific, and better-than expected on them, but the dry cows could have sold better and the PTIC ones were disappointing.
“We have been (artificially inseminating) for 30 years.
“Dairy farming has been tough. We have had enough. We just hope it improves now for those left in the industry.”
Ms Campbell said the farm, originally her parents’, had been a “great place to raise our kids”, Brooke, 23, Jayde, 20, and Bradley, 19.
“If any of them were keen to farm we might have stayed,” she said.
“We are ready for a change now. We’re going to move to Echuca, I don’t know what we will do yet.”
Brooke Campbell said dairy farming wasn’t something she or her siblings were interested in, because it was “too much hard work; you don’t get enough money for what you do”.
Charles Stewart auctioneer Corey Baulch said the sale result was a reflection of the lack of confidence farmers had in the dairy industry.
The sale offering included 118 autumn-calved Friesian cows, not rejoined; 213 May-August springing Friesian cows, due to commence calving from May 20 and 65 rising two-year-old springing heifers, PTIC to Jersey bulls, due to commence calving also from May 20.
All the cattle were AI-bred, medium-framed and sires included Gibson, Garrison, Goldbullion, Testimony, Gin Jac, Taylor Made, Tiller, Grand Prix, Brookview, Belmonth, Chemistry and GoodFriday.
“Conditions are bloody tough,” Mr Baulch said.
“Two inches (of rain) before today would have made a big difference, but hay is hard to find and there is no confidence about at the moment.
“But having said that good cows topped at $2025, fresh milking but the heifers were tougher to sell and were showing condition-effects of a tough year.”
Mr Baulch said dry cows made up to $1700 and heifers ranged from around $950-$1250.
Autumn-calving cows generally fetched from $1200 to $2050.
Twenty-nine buyers registered, with most local buyers through agents.
The top price of $2025 was paid by David and Danni-Anne Anderson, Glenfyne, who purchased 10. The top money was paid for a “well-uddered”, six-year-old, freshly calved autumn cow.
“We were looking for young cows, second-calvers, for their milk and they were a bit dearer than I thought they’d be,” Mr Anderson said.
A volume buyer on springing-cows was Landmark Timboon.
Elders Warrnambool agent David Patterson also made purchases for a Mount Gambier, South Australia farmer “looking for fresh milk” cows aged from three to six years old, at a cost of about $1250 for cows
This client took home 20, which Mr Patterson said had a changeover cost of about $200.
“They were all AI-bred,” he said.
“The cows were not in fantastic condition. They had their working clothes on, and were showing signs of the season, but these ones will be going onto irrigated rye-grass pastures now.”
Mr Patterson said prices were “about where we thought”.
He also purchased 12 May-June calvers for about $1250 for a Warrnambool client.
He speculated that the interest was particularly low on the heifers due to the uncertainty about opening milk prices and the ongoing dry conditions Australia-wide.
Buyer Robert Methven from Simpson, a neighbour to the Campbells, said he made his purchases to “support them a bit”.
“I bought 15 milkers to help lift my milk supply, and paid $1000-$1500 for third and fourth calvers,” he said.
“They’re not in bad condition, a bit light, but it has been a hard season and there is no grass; it’s probably the toughest year we’ve had in 15.
“It has been a bit of a tough time all around. The way the milk processors have been behaving is disgraceful. I’d like to see them sharing the profits a bit more with farmers and appreciating us more for what we do.”
By: KATE DOWLER
Source: The Weekly Times