In 2013 the top one-third of sheep farms reared over 14 lambs per hectare compared with only seven lambs for those in the bottom third according to Teagasc.

Highlighting profit monitor results for 2013 Teagasc says it shows again that output on a sheep farm is the biggest factor affecting profitability.

It says these figures show a difference of 140 lambs being produced on a farm where 20 hectares is devoted to sheep.

Those in the top third carried over nine ewes per hectare compared with just over six ewes per hectare for the bottom third.

Furthermore, Teagasc says those in the top third reared more lambs per ewe put to the ram. They reared 1.54 lambs per ewe put to the ram compared with 1.16 lambs for the bottom third of farms.

The second key factor affecting profitability is costs.

Teagasc says farmers in the top third spent €20 less per ewe on direct costs than those in the bottom third. These costs include feed, fertiliser, and veterinary and contractor charges, with feed costs being the largest. The key to reducing feed cost is proper grassland management.

This has resulted in the top 10% of sheep farms achieving a gross margin per hectare of €1,281. This is an extra €738 per hectare over the average for the group, with a completed profit monitor of €543 per hectare.

Teagasc says farmers should talk to their adviser about analysing the figures on their farm for 2014 to see where improvements can be made.