The price of dairy replacement stock has fallen by €250 to €400/hd compared to last year, as a combination of low milk prices and changes to the nitrates derogation has hit demand.

Customers for dairy replacements have been so scarce that some marts are avoiding holding dairy sales, one southern mart manager admitted.

“Clearance sales are bucking the trend, in terms of prices, but these are the best of the stock. Marts are not anxious to hold dairy sales for commercial herds; I’d even go as far as to say that they’re avoiding them,” he said.

‘Difficult trade’

George Candler of Kilkenny Mart said dairy replacements were a “difficult trade” at the moment.

Bulling heifers sold for €580 to €700/hd this week, Candler said, adding that it was “a battle” to sell plainer lots.

He maintained that similar stock would have freely made €750 to €900/hd last year, with up to €1,000/hd given for “the real McCoys”.

In-calf heifers sold for €750 to €850/hd this week, back from €1,000 to €1,200/hd last year, while first time calvers generally made €1,300 to €1,500/hd. Similar stock made €1,600 to €2,200/hd in the spring, Candler pointed out.

“Confidence has just been sucked out of the dairy trade,” he said.

Exporters report that demand for Irish heifers in Britain has also taken a hit, with the prices paid falling to €850 to €1,000/hd.