DESPERATE Northern Victorian dairy farmers are sounding out stock agents on culling pregnant spring-calving cows, as they struggle to maintain cash flows to feed and water their shrinking herds.
“The young stock and choppers are already gone,” Northern Victoria Livestock agent Craig Cox said.
“People are now calling asking ‘what do we sell next’, to buy more feed and water. They’re looking at selling them, (given) it will cost $500 of feed to get them through winter.”
Mr Cox said 800 dairy choppers a week had been sold through the Shepparton saleyards over the past fortnight, with prices dropping by 30 cents a kilogram (liveweight) in the lead-up to Easter for lighter, secondary-quality cows. He said prices had lifted a bit, by 15-20c this week on the back of a smaller yarding of 450 dairy choppers.
Katandra West dairy farmers Robbie Glover said he had just bought springing Holstein cows for $900 each.
“I reckon we’ll see 20-30 per cent of dairy farmers declare bankruptcy by the end of the season,” Mr Glover said.
Drought conditions across northern Victoria and the Riverina have left farmers with no choice but to buy in feed.