12 March 1999

Time in the office is time well spent

TIME spent in the office looking at records such as abattoir sheets to see whether it is possible to improve marketing can be a good investment, says independent consultant Peter Crichton.

Reacting to Mark Haywards plans, Mr Crichton says carcass grades can help identify which stock is best suited to each outlet to maximise returns. For example, boars tend to be leaner than gilts and are therefore better suited to those buyers and contracts which penalise higher backfats. Gilts could be targeted at the butchery trade where extra fat cover is often required.

"Consider selling to more than one outlet. Seeing the variation in grading, deductions, condemnations and prices paid focuses the mind as to what is leaving the farm and how much is being paid for it," he adds.

Where finisher accommodation is tight, consider splitting fastest growers for contracts specifying higher carcass weights and selling the slowest finishing half into the lighter cutter weight market.

While some feed costs are low, particularly straights such as soya, consider locking into feed contracts, he adds. However, in other areas spending money may bring savings. "Where there is a disease problem on the unit, particularly enzootic pneumonia, consider investing in a vaccination programme; it can reduce risk of a growth check. In all cases consult your vet."

Where changes are considered, work out financial implications. Cashflows can be laborious, but the information they give can help keep businesses running and are a worthwhile investment, he advises. &#42