€926/ha gross margin difference between best and worst beef finishers

The gross margins generated on the top 33% of beef finishing farms and the bottom 33% differed by €956/ha in 2016, Teagasc’s National Farm Survey (NFS) has revealed.

Data taken from 101 farms – a representative sample of 12,500 beef finishers nationally – showed that the best performing finishers had a gross margin of €1,089/ha in 2016; this compares to just €133/ha on the bottom 33% of operations.

As a result, the gross margins generated from the top farms were more than eight times higher than those resting in the bottom third of producers.

In addition, the value of gross output per hectare varied significantly across the top 33%, the average and the bottom 33% of beef finishers.

Teagasc puts this mainly down to differing stocking rates on these units. Farms in the top 33% carried 1.99LU/ha and those in the bottom third carried 1.11LU/ha.

Survey data shows that the gross output produced by the top finishers stood at €1,875ha. Meanwhile, those in the average and bottom 33% groups produced gross outputs of €1,017/ha and €536/ha respectively.


Differences in concentrate usage

Furthermore, the NFS shows that finishers spent an average of €284/ha on concentrate feed in 2016. This figure is down 7% on 2015 levels.

However, this reduction was offset by the same percentage increase in pasture and forage costs. In addition, farmers finishing cattle reduced concentrate feed usage by 6% or 44kg/LU last year.

Teagasc also highlighted that the total direct costs on the more intensively stocked, top-performing farms were over twice that of the more extensive bottom group in 2016.

Last year, top producers spent an average of €437/ha on concentrates and the top 33% of finishers spent €277/ha more on concentrate feed than those in bottom third of farmers.

The data also showed that fewer beef finishers made a gross loss in 2016. Last year, 7% of cattle finishers were unable to cover their direct production costs through farm output alone – down from 10% in 2015.