Making system work

3 January 1997

Making system work

PROFIT from finishing lambs can only be achieved by minimising overhead costs, and buying healthy sheep with good potential.

Thats the system operated by Mr Evans for his 3000 bought-in stores. He points out that the three major areas influencing profit potential are purchase price, sale price and the cost of keeping them – and theres little way of influencing any of those.

"I buy lambs off the same farms each year. That means I know what I am buying. To continue to do that, I have to pay the price on the day. Id rather pay £2 too much and know what Im getting than £5 too little for lambs which dont meet expectations."

Ensuring that keep is available year after year is also important says Mr Evans. "You have to pay a fair price if you want to put lambs on that farm the next year."

And producers have no control over sale price. "You can say that youll only sell for 10p/kg more than the SQQ, but you have no influence on what the SQQ is."

Because of those constraints, Mr Evans has tried to make his system as efficient as possible. "Reducing the cost of finishing lambs is only really possible by increasing numbers and reducing costs a head."

That means relying on self-employed labour which can be taken on at busy times of the year, but doesnt burden the enterprise with costs at quieter times. Buying healthy stock, and ensuring it stays that way is also vital, he says. "However, I routinely dose for pasteurellosis. I also think scab and foot rot are vastly under-estimated problems and wont hesitate to dip or vaccinate if necessary."n

Lambs are finished off grass or arable by-products – concentrate is too expensive.Buying healthy sheep with good potential is key to profits.

AN economical finishing system for store lambs must be matched by efficient marketing says Richard Evans. So he formed a local marketing group in 1991. Eastern Quality Lamb now comprises 40 farmer members and sells 20-25,000 lambs throughout the year.

"Nearly all lambs are farm assured and are carefully matched to suit individual abattoir requirements," says Mr Evans. "This maximises returns and by building a good relationship with our clients extremely good terms have been established," he says. All stock sold are credit insured. Members receive what the abattoir pays with a small deduction for haulage and commission.

See more