23 October 1998

RACflock margins tumbling down despite performance…

Propping up falling margins in sheep flocks was the focus of

last weeks Grassland Management – Practice into Profit

meeting at Cirencester. Michael Gaisford reports

MARGINS from the sheep flock at the Royal Agricultural College have almost halved since last year, visitors at last weeks Grassland Management – Practice into Profit day heard.

The RAC runs a flock of some 800 Mule ewes, currently being increased to 1000, which like every other flock in the country is being severely hit by the depression in finished lamb prices.

At the open day at the colleges Harnhill Manor Farm, farms director Mike Limb presented financial results from the flock for the past four years. These show gross margins from the enterprise have crashed from £56.75, £65.34 and £69.48 a ewe in 1995-97 to an estimated £37.28 in the financial year ending September 30, 1998.

This profit tumble has occurred even though the flock has an above average performance, marketing about 195% lambs a ewe, with 95% of them grading into fat classes two and three, and 90% into carcass grades U and R.

To achieve these results, Mr Limb highlighted a variety of techniques practised on the farm. These include; the use of high EBV Suffolk, Texel and Meatlinc tups; feeding low-cost organic silage in winter; regular condition scoring and re-grouping of ewes; a comprehensive flock health and vaccination programme; the establishment of clover in permanent pasture; lamb fostering and creep feeding triplet lambs. Mr Limb said the big fall in gross margins this year was beyond his control.

&#8226 Grassland Management -Practice into Profit is supported by IGER, MAFF,MLC, BGS, MDC,British Seed Houses, Barclays and FARMERS WEEKLY.

and advised the 120 sheep farmers attending the event to minimise production costs by practising some of the techniques highlighted at the open day.

BOLSTERINGMARGINS

&#8226 Marketing 195% lambs a ewe

&#8226 Gross margins fallen to £37.28/ewe

&#8226 Minimise production costs

Margins from the Royal Agricultural Colleges flock will halve this year, despite high levels of production.