The beef farmers viewed as “top performers” in the sector – in other words farmers who are making the most profit from their enterprises – do certain things to give their farms that extra boost, according to agribusiness firm Ifac.

Commenting at the online launch of the Ifac Irish Farm Report 2021, titled Growing Your Future, Ifac head of farm support, Philip O’Connor, said:

“We’re often asked ‘what makes a top farmer tick’? What are they doing that others are not?

Beef top performers

“When we looked at the beef farmers, we did a survey of this and we spoke to 20 beef farmers.”

Highlighting the key findings found from the “informal survey” conducted among the 20 top beef farmers, O’Connor said:

“The soil fertility is monitored regularly. They were soil testing, they were doing fertiliser plans, lime plans, and that was key.

More bang for their buck

“Pasture management was key – they were implementing grassland management; most of them were measuring grass, and utilisation of grass was key as well.

“Quality feed was critical to livestock performance; the key one here was quality over quantity. Their silage was key in when they cut it, how they did it, and quality was key environment here, not quantity.

“A key finding definitely was the breeding policy. There were a number of suckler farmers – so breeding policy really was key to them, using ICBF and so forth, getting the right calf.

“And for those that were buying in livestock, the finishers and cattle rearing, getting animals at the right price and getting the right type of animal was key.

top performers beef
Source: Ifac

“They definitely had a method and methodology about when they went to buy an animal, how they bought it and what type of animal they looked at,” he added.

Budgets and cashflow

“They were also looking at budgets. Cashflow management in the beef sector is really important, margins are so tight – and all of them were managing cashflows.”

Highlighting that the farmers surveyed were conservative on short-term debt, the Ifac head of farm support said:

“They weren’t prepared to have a lot of short-term debt and overdrafts were very much used as rainy day funds rather than something that should be used every year.”