THERE were 522 cows offered for sale at the trade and export cattle market at Leongatha last week, a number that was heavily dominated by dairy cows as big numbers continue to be released by cash-strapped local producers.
Certainly some of the cows were old, emaciated types that would have been chopped out in any case, but there were plenty of others with full bags of milk that might easily have done another season or two if milk was actually worth something.
The saving grace for dairy farmers, of course, is that the price being paid for these surplus cows is good, if not excellent given the situation in the dairy industry.
Meat and Livestock Australia reported that “dairy cows sold from firm to 8c/kg dearer” at Leongatha last week. They made between 180c/kg and 289c/kg, returning between $648 and $2015 a head.
Money from chopper cows usually took care of the household expenses once but in many cases, it’s being made to stretch further into the farm budget at the moment.
“There’s still a lot of dairy cattle coming forward and we’re not seeing any let up in that at the moment,” said Zack Redpath of SEJ Leongatha.
“And fortunately they’re still getting good money for them so they’ll keep coming while that’s the case.
“Mostly they’re coming in groups of eight and 10 but we have got a group of 40 cows here today from one client.
“The prices are so good that the dairy farmers are prepared to make the call on cows that aren’t producing and release them. They’re not getting much for the milk,” he said.
Mr Redpath said there had been no attempt to manage the orderly release of dairy cattle, they were simply coming forward as producers saw fit, but so far, so good.
There’s little doubt, though, that the numbers being released into the chopper market will impede the ability of the producers to step up once prices improve, and we’re finally seeing some green shoots of that on the world market for some dairy products.
Chopper prices the saving grace for dairy farmers