€970/ha differential between top and bottom sheep flocks
Gross margin on the top 10pc of sheep farms last year was almost €1,000/ha better than the bottom 10pc, Teagasc figures have revealed.
The figures equate to a difference of close to €39,000 on a 100ac farm, the e-Profit Monitor analysis showed.
Gross margin on the top 10pc of sheep farms was €910/ha in 2009, some €970 higher than the bottom 10pc of farms that recorded a negative gross margin of €60/ha.
The startling difference between the top and bottom farms is highlighted by the fact that the top one-third of farmers made a net profit of €17/ewe but the bottom one-third suffered a net loss of €51/ewe when premia were excluded.
The Teagasc report maintained that where farmers were losing €51/ewe, sheep farming was not sustainable and unless the situation changed quickly, the viability of those farms would be questioned.
The huge discrepancy (€633/ha) between the gross margins of the top and bottom one-third of farms was influenced by several factors.
These included more lambs reared per ewe to the ram (1.53 vs 1.4), higher stocking rates (9.56 vs 6.35ewes/ha), more lambs weaned per hectare (14.6 vs 8.9) and higher lamb price (€82.59 vs €72.86).
When sheep farms were compared over 2007, 2008 and 2009, Teagasc found tthe number of lambs reared per ewe increased by 2pc from 1.45 in 2007 to 1.48 last year and average lamb prices increased by almost 5pc over the three years.