Keep organic rate up

3 December 1999

Keep organic rate up

DESPITE organic lambs being worth about £20 a head more than their conventionally produced counterparts, allowing stocking densities to slip could make them less profitable, according to one Devon organic producer.

Richard Harvey of Frost Farm, Bovey Tracy, will lamb his 180 Suffolk cross ewes in December, finishing most lambs indoors for the spring market. But for organic spring lambing flocks, he is concerned that low stocking rates could reduce margins.

"A conventional upland unit producing lambs and selling them at £35 a head could make a margin of £207.45/acre when stocking density is five ewes an acre.

"For an organic unit selling lambs at £55 a head, a stocking density of four ewes an acre could leave a margin of £270.70/acre but this would fall to £203.07/acre for a stocking density of three ewes an acre," he warned.

Achieving a stocking density of 10 ewes/ha (4/acre), is difficult on an organic farm. But it was necessary if an organic system was to match or outperform a conventional one, said Mr Harvey.

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