Soaring input costs hit dairy incomes in 2018

Soaring input costs, particularly for feed, hit dairy farm incomes in 2018, resulting in a 31% drop in income, according to the Teagasc National Farm Survey 2018 results.

Teagasc confirmed that total production costs for an average dairy farm jumped up by 17% – these farms also saw the biggest fall-off in income among sectors.

The results were confirmed at the launch of the Teagasc National Farm Survey 2018 which took place in the Davenport Hotel, Dublin, today, Thursday, May 30.

In particular, Teagasc pointed out that the adverse weather led to a delayed turn-out of animals to grass, which, in turn, lead to higher expenditure on feed.

On an average dairy farm with a herd of 78 cows, purchased concentrate expenditure totalled €41,984 in 2018. Although much lower in value terms, expenditure on purchased bulky feed also increased strongly – up 85% – to €5,966 on average.

In terms of income diversity, just over half of dairy farms reported a farm income above €50,000 in 2018, compared to almost three quarters in 2017.

Of these, 16% earned more than €100,000. This was half of the proportion in that income category the previous year.

In 2018, 25% of dairy farms earned an income of less than €30,000, a 13% increase on 2017.

The proportion of farms earning between €30,000 and €50,000 increased from 15% to 20%, while farmers in the €50,000 to €70,000 category went from 15% to 23%.

The number of farmers earning between €70,000 and €100,000 declined by 8% to 16%.

Cow numbers up

In 2015, dairy cow numbers stood at 1,295,800, but the central statistic office (CSO) revealed dairy cow numbers for last year stood at 1,480,900 – an increase of 14%.

This was a total increase of 48,200 (3.3%) dairy cows from 2017 and a huge increase of 83,000 (6%) dairy cows from 2016.

Dairy cows now make up 20% of the total number of cattle in the country.

Looking at total cattle, the numbers hit 7,348,500 last year, which was a decrease of 0.2% from the previous year. Although, between 2016 and 2017, total cattle numbers increased by a total of 142,300 (2%).