Late calving cows drive up costs on suckler farms
Average 40ha holding over €3,500 'in the red' says Teagasc expert
Late calving cows in May are a "big problem" on suckler farms as they are unable to feed off spring grass which drives up costs in a low margin business, a Teagasc specialist said.
Paul Crosson, who is leaving the advisory service to join LacPatrick Dairies, told farmers at the Teagasc Grange Beef 2016 event that compact early calving was a key factor in improving profits on farms.
Taking an average 40ha suckler farm with 23 cows on average carcase gain and a low calving rate per cow of 0.83, Dr Crosson pointed out the net margin was in the red to the tune of -€3,512 with variable and fixed costs at €2.51/kg.
"It is costing the average farmer about €2.50/kg of liveweight to produce beef on a carcase weight basis that is about €4.55/kg," he stressed. "We know that beef prices at the moment are below that."
However, if the 40ha farm had a higher beef output than the national average, it produced more efficiently at a stocking rate of 53 suckler cows, finished stock at 20-24 months then the results were more positive. Dr Crossan said in that case the cost of production would be €1.59/kg, or €2.90/kg on a carcase weight basis.
"When you couple a decent margin with high output that is when you generate much higher levels of profitability at over €21,000."
However, the Teagasc researchers pointed out the €400 profits per cow does not include either labour or land costs.
Dr Crossan said it was "very readily achievable" to mirror the successes of farmers in their Better Farm programme who were achieving production costs of around €1.80/kg.