Gap between dairy and beef incomes has started to narrow
The difference in the average income earned by dairy farms versus cattle finishing farms attracted the most attention in the annual Teagasc National Farm Survey.
The average income on specialist dairy farms reached the unprecedented level of €68,877 while the average on cattle finishing farms was €13,834.
With the removal of the milk quota many are asking, if dairy farming is so much more profitable than beef then will we see all our cattle farms convert to dairy?
It is true that on average dairy farms are more profitable than cattle but there are significant differences between the two sectors that need to be considered.
There are approximately 16,000 specialist dairy farms and over 40,000 cattle farms in the survey.
For the most part the dairy farms are a homogenous group made up of larger, full-time farms with almost 85pc of them farming 30ha or more. Almost 40pc of cattle finishing farmers operate a holding of 30ha or less.
Dairying is more labour intensive, rewarding around one and a half family labour units, compared to just one person on the average cattle farm. Around 37pc of cattle farmers have an off farm job, something almost unheard of on a dairy farm. Debt is also lower at around €10,500 on cattle finishing farms.