Dairy farmers' incomes shrank by 26pc in 2018
Average earnings down by €24,600 as new figures reveal full impact of drought and lower milk prices
Dairy farmers' incomes dropped by almost €25,000 on the average 100-cow herd last year due to lower milk prices and increased feed costs during last summer's drought.
Net margins per cow were back 26pc, falling by €246 per cow from €941/cow in 2017 to €695/cow in 2018, according to new figures from Teagasc.
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Overall, net margins nationally fell by €345m from €1.32bn in 2017 to €975m in 2018.
The net margin per litre of milk produced fell from 16.93c in 2017 to 12.17c last year, while the margin per hectare fell from €2,168 to €1,590.
The Teagasc Profit Monitor data is based on returns from 1,331 herds in 2018, and 1,568 in 2017.
The figures show that the average milk price last year fell by 1.45c/l, dropping to 36.68c/l compared to 38.13c/l in 2017. In terms of milk solids, returns dropped from €4.78/kg to €4.57/kg.
Although the average output per cow was up last year by 151 litres to 5,712 litres, variable costs were also significantly higher, increasing by almost 3c/l to 14.95c/l.
Teagasc dairy advisor Joe Kelleher said the lift in milk output and the rise in variable costs both reflected the increased usage of compound feeds last summer in dairy herds across the south and east as a result of the collapse in grass growth during the drought.