Sheep and beef margins improving, finds report

Net margins are improving for some of England’s top-performing beef and sheep enterprises, the EBLEX Business Pointers 2009 report has revealed. The report also found that some of the gain from improvements in outputs has been mitigated by rising costs, however.

“Generally, net margins have improved, particularly with the top third performers, but this is set against a very tough economic backdrop,” said EBLEX chairman John Cross.

“Recent high feed prices are still showing in the figures, but farmers have been able to limit the impact by reducing usage and switching to alternative feeds. They have been hit very badly by higher fertiliser and fuel prices, resulting in high forage and contractor prices. However, good stockmanship – demonstrated by low mortality and low replacements – are driving superiority for some enterprises.

“The figures also show that fixed costs remain the main cost contributor to all the enterprises and account for the greatest variations seen between flocks and herds.

The annual publication, launched on 20 October at the EBLEX Annual Conference 2009, helps producers across nine beef and sheep enterprises benchmark their costs of production to see how well they are performing and where efficiencies can be made.

“The EBLEX Business Pointers report has become the benchmark for the industry and allows farmers to get a real insight into costs to compare their own enterprises. It forms part of our ongoing programme to help producers get their best returns from their enterprises,” said Cross.

For the first time this year, headline reports for beef and sheep were produced ahead of the main document, looking at cost per kilo figures. A summary of these figures are included in the report with full breakdown available at www.eblex.org.uk/businesspointers.