Over 30% of sheep farms earned less than €5,000 in 2019

Over 30% of sheep farms earned less than €5,000 in 2019, according to the Teagasc National Farm Survey.

Although, according to the survey that was carried out, the average sheep farmer’s income increased by 9% to €14,603 in 2019.

There were just over 14,300 sheep farms represented in the survey.

The proportion of farms earning between €10,000 and €20,000 increased by 2%, while the proportion of farms that earned between €20,000 and €50,000 increased by 4%.

However, only 4% of sheep farms earned above €50,000 in 2019.

The overall gross output on sheep farms decreased marginally (-1%) to €49,669.

Direct payments were up slightly year-on-year to almost €19,320, on average. This was mainly due to access to payments under the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM), which benefitted sheep farms that also had cattle. 

The main factor behind the increase in the family farm income (FFI) on sheep farms in 2019 was the fall in production costs. Direct cost fell by 6% to a farm average of €18,209, while purchased concentrate costs fell by 18% to €6,929.

Fertiliser expenditure also decreased by 10% to €2,775, on average. Furthermore, contracting charges, reflecting fodder production costs, were unchanged. Overhead costs fell by 3% to €16,867 in 2019.

On a per-hectare basis, the average gross margin on sheep farms was €669, which is an increase of €44 when compared to the 2018 figure. This included a basic payment of €245 and there was also additional support from the BEAM.

In 2019, the average-sized sheep farm was 47ha, with a flock size of 133 ewes.