Top third of Welsh suckler herds cut costs to below 140p/kg

The top third of beef suckler herds in Wales had total costs of 139.2p/kg in 2022/23, which was less than half of those in the bottom third of producers, according to figures from the Farm Business Survey.

The overall difference in costs between the top and bottom third was 180p/kg.

Market returns were fairly similar between the top and bottom producers, with both seeing an average return of about 200p/kg liveweight.

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However, the percentage of total costs covered by market returns was 145% for the top third and just 64% for the bottom third.

Shorter calving intervals and lower fixed and variable costs on farm helped to drive performance and profitability for the top producers.

HCC data analyst Glesni Phillips said: “As the market returns were similar for all three categories of performers, this does clearly suggest that the focus should be on managing costs on-farm in order to maximize the profitability of suckler herds in Wales.

“The main output from a beef suckler herd is obviously the suckled calf and therefore good cow management is absolutely the key to optimising herd fertility in order to produce a healthy suckler calf each year.

“By improving the reproductive efficiency of the suckler herd, each farmer would also help to manage on-farm costs and the overall profitability of the business.”

Meanwhile, analysis of 60 farms in England by the AHDB found that the total cost of production among the top 25% of farms was just a third of the total value of those in the bottom 25%.

It observed that the key differences between the best and worst performing farms were the costs of feed, forage, labour, machinery and equipment depreciation.