Better physical performance among ewes and lambs is the biggest driver towards achieving the best margins for less favoured area breeding flocks.
Costs are much tighter in this type of business than among many other beef and lamb enterprises but EBLEX Business Pointers data shows those producers getting better returns have maximised the management and natural resources at their disposal to achieve better lambing rates, better carcase finishing weight and are achieving better prices.
And though this sector has enjoyed better fortunes than many others in beef and sheep meat production with net margins rising by nearly £4 per ewe on 2010 figures at £7.80 per head, it is in outputs where best improvements can be made for those performing less well than the top third benchmarked farms.
Mark Topliff, EBLEX senior analyst, said: “Whereas in some of the other enterprise types we have seen a huge difference in costs, particularly fixed costs, between the top third and bottom third producers, there is much less variation for LFA breeding flocks. It is still very important that producers keep a close eye on costs, particular with things like labour where there are gains to be made: between top and bottom third producers there is a £5.83 difference in labour costs per ewe. That aside though, they need to look to other areas of the business for the potential to significantly improve returns.
“When you dig down into the drivers of better output values, there are some key areas that stand out where those performing less well could seek to make improvements. Lambs born per 100 ewes is significantly better in the top performers compared to the bottom third: 164 compared to 143. More lambs are reared per 100 ewes also – 157 to 136.
“Then, when you look at the actual return, it stands at £71.66 per lamb sold finished for those in the top third compared to £63.29 for those in the bottom third. Deadweight, lambs were nearly 1.5kg heavier for those in the top third at 20kg, achieving a 25p per kg higher price.”
Source: EBLEX Business Pointers 2011
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