Sheep inventory forms to be returned to DAERA
Northern Ireland sheep farmers have until 5 January 2019 to return flock inventory cards to DAERA.

Keepers of sheep and goats in NI are required to complete the annual flock inventory card and return it to DAERA by 5 January 2019.

Details of the number of sheep and goats on the holding between 1 and 5 December 2018 must be provided in the inventory.

This information must also be recorded in the on-farm flock register.

Slight change

The card has changed slightly, with a section to record an email address now included and a question that requested the occupation of the keeper removed.

DAERA has said that failure to return inventory cards will increase the possibility of the flock being selected for an identification inspection.

The card must be signed and posted to DAERA in the pre-addressed envelope.

Alternatively, the inventory can be completed on the department’s website through DAERA online services.

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Sucklers sell to £2,080 at Ballymena
Kieran Mailey rounds up prices paid for bulls shown by NI breeders at recent sales.

The first consignment of 40 in-calf suckler cows from Artie Birt, Portaferry, sold to an average of £1,366 at Ballymena Mart on Friday last.

All animals offered are in-calf to predominantly Charolais and Limousin sires, with calving due to get underway in March.

Top price was £2,080 for a Limousin cow due to have her second calf this spring. In-calf heifers typically sold from £1,000 to £1,200, with the main trade for cows returning prices of £1,100 to £1,300.

A second batch of 40 Limousin and Simmental cows is being forwarded for sale this Friday (22 February) at Ballymena Mart.

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LacPatrick drops milk collection charge
The LacPatrick board has suspended milk collection charges for February.

LacPatrick co-op has announced that collection charges will not be applied to milk supplied in February on alternate-day collection.

With transport costing £8/load, this is a saving of £112 for suppliers, assuming 14 collections are made during February.

It is understood that all, bar 20-30 suppliers, will benefit from the move.

The decision was taken on Wednesday at what is likely to be the final board meeting of LacPatrick Co-op, as the merger with Lakeland is scheduled for completion on 13 March.

In addition, the board decided to hold its January milk price at 26.5p/l.

Elsewhere, Glanbia Cheese announced a 1p/l price increase for January which also puts it on 26.5p/l, and back into line with all other processors who are working from the same base price. Aurivo announced on Monday it is holding at 26.5p/l, but the west of Ireland-based processor still pays a 1p/l winter bonus for January.

All other processors declared their January price last week. Full analysis on January milk pricing will be featured in next week’s milk league.


Meanwhile, dairy commodity markets were boosted by another positive outcome at Tuesday’s GDT auction, where the index price increased by 0.9% to US $3,271/t. This converts to an approximate milk price of 32p/l (before applying processing costs).

It is the sixth successive GDT auction where prices have increased, with large gains for butter and skim milk powder. Milk powder prices also strengthened this week on the Dutch Dairy Board auctions, but butter prices eased.

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Cattle feed prices slow to fall
Lower spot prices for key straights used in compound rations have yet to filter throught to ration prices, which are holding steady.

There is growing optimism that animal feed prices may ease towards the end of the month, as spot prices for key straights have weakened significantly.

Rolled barley prices are down by as much as £15/t from the start of the year, with merchants currently quoting prices around £198/t to £202/t delivered on-farm.

Maize meal remains relatively static at £185/t to £190/t and continues to be good value compared with barley.

Soya hulls have fallen by £5/t to £10/t from January due to reduced demand and increased availability. Merchants indicate hulls can be delivered on-farm for £155/t to £160/t for bulk purchases.

Soya bean has seen a small drop in price, but remains generally steady at £300/t to £310/t on-farm, depending on the quantity being purchased.

Maize distillers are down from £220/t at the start of the year and are currently trading around £205-£210/t.


Despite lower prices for straights, compound rations have been slow to fall due to being forward-purchased at the higher prices.

Beef finishing rations are still trading from £220/t to £240/t, with 16% general purpose rations starting from £230/t.

Dairy blends are trading at £260-£270/t, with ewe rations moving around £255-£260/t.

Price drop

Some merchants are indicating that ration prices may ease towards the end of the month once forward cover runs out.

But there are also reports that larger feed mills still have considerable volumes of unused feed straights on their books, purchased last autumn when prices were at their peak.

The mild autumn alleviated fodder concerns and demand for compound feed has been lower than anticipated, leaving larger feed mills with an expensive surplus on their books.

However, with spot markets down, some mills are understood to be offering rations with prices discounted by as much as £30/t to increase sales and offload these higher price straights before feed demand drops once grazing starts again.

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