Store lamb secrets of success

BETTER QUALITY forage and lower levels of concentrate feeding are the primary secrets of English store lamb finishing success highlighted in the latest annual enterprise costings from the English Beef and Lamb Executive (EBLEX).

The 2003/4 costings results from 35 store lamb finishers show little apparent difference between top third performing enterprises and the average in either lamb purchasing ability or daily gains achieved.

However, the top third performers recorded a net margin of £8.62/lamb – more than twice the £3.81 realised by the average.

More detailed analysis of the figures shows this was primarily due to a very much longer feeding period – 85 days as against the average 72-day finish.

Top third producers added more value to lighter than average lambs purchased at a lower initial cost which were then sold at heavier weights into a rising market in the early part of the New Year.

Most importantly, the best performers were able to maintain slightly higher daily gains from a third less concentrates – 0.15 kg/day compared to the 0.24 kg/day average. 

This increased their other feed and forage costs somewhat, but led to an overall feed cost saving of some  50p/head.

The longer feeding period also increased labour costs a little for the top third enterprises.

However, lower costs in other areas meant a net fixed cost saving of 15p/head over the average. Mortality levels were also markedly lower than average.

Even though lower concentrate prices over the coming winter seem set to improve the prospects for store lamb finishing this season, careful planning and realistic expectations about finished lamb prices when purchasing will continue to be essential to success. 

EBLEX English Store Lamb Finishing Enterprise Costings (2003/4)


Top Third

Liveweight gain during finishing 9.96 kg 12.58 kg
Feeding period 72 days 85 days
Liveweight gain 0.14 kg/day 0.15 kg/day
Concentrates used 0.24 kg/day 0.15 kg/day
Mortality  2.64% 0.83%
Total output (after valuation changes) £11.69/head £15.79/head
Variable costs £4.70/head £4.14/head
Fixed costs £3.18/head £3.03/head
Net margin * £3.81/head £8.62/head

* Includes private drawings but excludes the value of unpaid family labour