Stock Prices

The cost of livestock represents a significant proportion of the total investment in dairying. Dairy stock prices vary over time depending on a range of factors, including:

  • Milk prices
  • Breed
  • Production history
  • Time of calving
  • Seasonal conditions

Cow prices can vary by as much as 40 per cent from one season to another. The prices quoted in the table below are a reflection of the 2013-14 situation. Prices and demand for export dairy stock vary depending on export orders. Export cattle must meet relevant selection criteria. Dairy stock that do not meet export selection criteria are subject to local prices.

Timing of Calving

With the vast majority of the herds in the state calving in the spring it is often difficult for autumn calving farms to source cows. Traditional autumn calving farms favour straight bred Friesian cows and generally run closed herds.

Production History

Herds with production history, either at the factory or on the basis of farm herd recording, tend to achieve higher prices. However, per cow production level is more closely related to feeding (including concentrates) than it is to breeding. The size of heifers at first calving is also important.


Friesian cows have traditionally been more expensive than crossbred or Jersey cows. In recent years some dairy farmers with Friesian herds have been able to sell replacement heifers at premium prices to China and Russian. Export markets occasionally exist for Jersey and crossbred heifers. Also Friesian cull cows are worth more than Jerseys. However, there appears to be little economic justification for the difference in cow prices between Friesians and Jerseys. No relationship has yet been determined between breed and financial returns.

In recent years there has been a significant shift to crossbred cows in an attempt to correct herd health and fertility problems associated with large high-producing pure-bred Friesians.

Current Stock Prices 2013-2014

Type of Stock Production Level (kgMS/hd) Jersey Crossbred Friesian
Dairy Cows   $ $ $
Spring calving > 550kgMS     1,700
  < 350kgMS 1,300 1,400 1,500
  < 350kg/MS 1,000 1,100 1,200
Autumn calving >550 kgMS     1,800
  < 350kg/MS 1,300 1,400 1,600
  < 350kg/MS 1,000 1,100 1,250
Yearling heifers   $ $ $
Local market   600 750 900
Export market   850   1,600
Heifer calves   $ $ $
local Market   350 500 650
Export Market   600 1,500  
Bulls   1,100 1,600