Northern and western dairy farmers lost out on 30 grazing days in 2017

Northern and western dairy farmers lost out on 30 grazing days in 2017 compared to their counterparts in the south.

According to the preliminary results of Teagasc’s National Farm Survey (NFS), farmers in the northern and western region recorded 212 grazing days last year.

This compared to 242 grazing days noted by farmers in the south. Eastern and midlands farmers reported 237 grazing days in 2017; this is 25 days ahead of farmers in the west and north of the country.

Regions are broken into the above groupings. Image source: Teagasc NFS

It must be taken into consideration that there is a total of 15,639 dairy farms in the country, with around 73% – or 11,478 – of these located in the southern region.

With just 2,229 (14%) dairy farms located in the north and west, this means the remaining 1,932 dairy farms were based in the eastern and midlands region.

Regional analysis

The average dairy farm income in 2017 equated to €86,115, according to the survey; but this varied depending on region – as did a number of other factors.

Farms in the eastern and midlands region were larger, both in terms of land area and herd size. Because of this, it is not surprising then that farm income was “substantially higher” in this region last year, Teagasc added.

It was also pointed out that family labour units were lower in the region, at 1.27; this compared to 1.4 in the southern region and 1.43 in the northern and western area. But hired labour costs on dairy farms in the eastern and midlands region were much higher than the other two regions.

Image source: Teagasc NFS

On a per hectare basis, in 2017, Family Farm Incomes (FFI) in the eastern/midlands region and in the southern region were €1,650 and €1,623 respectively, Teagasc explained.

The comparative figure in the northern and western region was “substantially lower” at €1,228, it added.

“As a partial explanation, there is a large differential in terms of costs – with direct costs per cow higher in the northern and western region compared to the other two regions.

Image source: Teagasc NFS

For example, concentrate costs per cow alone were 1.4 times higher than in the eastern and midlands region.

“Fertiliser costs were generally comparable across regions,” Teagasc said.

On a per cow basis, farm incomes in the southern and eastern/midlands regions equated to around €1,180; this was approximately 1.2 times higher than in the northern and western region, it concluded.