Welsh sheep producers on average more than covered production costs in the year to March 2010, but the average figures mask a wide range of results.
While average performers covered 101% of costs, top-third producers managed 133% compared to just 79% of costs for the bottom third, said red meat promotion agency, Hybu Cig Cymru.
Costs accounted for include the variables of feed, forage, veterinary and medicines as well as fixed costs, including rent, labour, machinery, finance and unpaid labour.
Hill farms covered 97% of costs, while upland farms covered 99% and lowland farms 107%. This compares with 84%, 88% and 95% respectively for the previous year.
Better market returns were largely responsible for the improvement. “That’s why now, when market returns for lamb are at a buoyant level, is the ideal time for all sheep farmers to look closely at their costs and where they may be able to make savings,” said HCC’s industry information officer, John Richards.
The survey uncovered interesting links between lambs reared per ewe and cost of production, prompting HCC to begin work on a new project to investigate lamb losses.
“We hope that with the help of flocks across Wales we can identify the main causes of lamb losses and by doing so provide farmers with advice and support to help minimise these losses the following season,” said Mr Richards. The results of this project, funded through the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007-13, will be published later this year.