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Margins from suckler beef

  • 18-06-2021 7:57am
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 849 ✭✭✭ Easten


    I have found the costs involved in the Suckler beef system have kept on rising and yet the prices for the cattle after do not match. Looking back over the life of one of the cows I culled this year She had 9 calves. Her 1st calf a bull made 720, her last calf sold a few weeks back another bull made 810.
    90 euros price increase in 9 years.
    Every other commodity has doubled in price in the last year.
    Looking back on what I used to pay a few years back
    Vet call out fees gone from 40 to 100
    Weanlen Crunch gone from 5.50 to 8.50 / bag
    Silage 9.50/bale to 13.5
    Mart fees 5/head to 10
    CAN 195 to 240
    Farm Insurance 375 to 705

    I could list many more but the main point is the beef price has not risen in line with these. Lads telling me cattle are very dear now at the moment. Jezz I'd hate to see what they think low prices are.
    I run what I think is a fairly average farm, 27 Sucklers selling the Weanlens from 9 -12 months
    Yes the ad Weanlen makes 1100 in the ring, but I also have the ad small heifer only making 700.
    Doing the homework on the numbers I'm coming out with about 3.5k profit without paying myself a cent, add on the EU monies and I'm up to 10k. Feck knows what would happen if I ever went down with tb, the feed bills would be the end of it.
    10k works out at less than 200 bucks a week. 200 bucks for a farming system where all you are basically doing is running to stand still.
    Suckler beef is at the stage now where you would be better off keeping next to no animals and just collect the EU money


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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,062 ✭✭✭ cute geoge


    Not been smart ,but suckling is dying slowly .The future for beefi n this country is raising dairy x beef bred .AA comand the premium price in the factory that is what lidl/aldi want anyway.Would not be better off chancing a few beefxdairy bred suck calves .At the moment you could pick them up handy and they are easier handle then sucklers and it would suprise me if they would not leave you with more profit


  • Registered Users Posts: 344 ✭✭ Gman1987


    I would tend to somewhat agree with what Cute Geoge has said above. You are making circa. €130 per cow which isn't enough to justify the work that is in it with calving cows etc. See if their is anything you can do to improve your profitability and if that's not possible then I would seriously consider changing the system. If you were buying in the likes of AA or HE yearlings you would carry circa. 80 of these where you previously had your 27 cows and their weanlings. On a like for like comparison they would need to leave just €44 profit per head to compare to your current suckler system. They should leave a good bit more than this so I would imagine it would be a better option.


  • Registered Users Posts: 939 ✭✭✭ Count Mondego


    I can't wait for the day that Irish dairy farms aren't producing pure dirt beef cattle.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,541 ✭✭✭ Say my name


    cute geoge wrote: »
    Not been smart ,but suckling is dying slowly .The future for beefi n this country is raising dairy x beef bred .AA comand the premium price in the factory that is what lidl/aldi want anyway.Would not be better off chancing a few beefxdairy bred suck calves .At the moment you could pick them up handy and they are easier handle then sucklers and it would suprise me if they would not leave you with more profit
    The Ashdown park hotel in gorey and the family that run it are martyrs for the breed.
    I think it's something like 1300 aax head they rear and fatten. Some family.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,522 ✭✭✭ trixi2011


    I can't wait for the day that Irish dairy farms aren't producing pure dirt beef cattle.

    What would you class as pure dirt beef cattle ?


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  • Registered Users Posts: 344 ✭✭ Gman1987


    I can't wait for the day that Irish dairy farms aren't producing pure dirt beef cattle.

    That's a different conversation. The OP is probably producing the best of beef currently but their is very little margin in it for him so fair play to him for sharing this with us here and questioning its viability. At the end of the day the number one goal should be to maximise his profitability per HA


  • Registered Users Posts: 939 ✭✭✭ Count Mondego


    trixi2011 wrote: »
    What would you class as pure dirt beef cattle ?

    The majority of calves going through the Mart coming from dairy herds.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,524 ✭✭✭ grassroot1


    cute geoge wrote: »
    Not been smart ,but suckling is dying slowly .The future for beefi n this country is raising dairy x beef bred .AA comand the premium price in the factory that is what lidl/aldi want anyway.Would not be better off chancing a few beefxdairy bred suck calves .At the moment you could pick them up handy and they are easier handle then sucklers and it would suprise me if they would not leave you with more profit
    Recent journal figures would not agree with you assumption.
    In short most beef options are unviable


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 12,034 Mod ✭✭✭✭ blue5000


    Our DG analysed the various suckling systems from the group profit monitor results. Lowest margins were from farms selling weanlings. Highest margins were lads finishing everything and buying in a few as well. There's 6 in the group gone milking in the last 5 years.

    I've switched to organic, cutting cow numbers by 30%. Plan is to sell males at 18 month forward stores and do a small bit of tillage in rotation with red clover. Not sure where you farm Easten, but can you look at keeping weanlings through the first winter to sell in spring?

    If the seat's wet, sit on yer hat, a cool head is better than a wet ar5e.



  • Registered Users Posts: 17,909 ✭✭✭✭ _Brian


    Wintering costs for sucklers herds must vary dramatically across the country.

    Lads with cows in for 20week winters are spending massively as a result. I would know plenty of lads making 6 months feeding every year. Given current overheads and beef prices this couldn’t work.

    The high numbers of empty cows being carried over is another massive drain on the system.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 363 ✭✭ trg


    _Brian wrote: »
    Wintering costs for sucklers herds must vary dramatically across the country.

    Lads with cows in for 20week winters are spending massively as a result. I would know plenty of lads making 6 months feeding every year. Given current overheads and beef prices this couldn’t work.

    The high numbers of empty cows being carried over is another massive drain on the system.

    We're in that zone. 6 month winters, keeping empties often to give another chance. Low quality silage, little or no weight gain from weaning to yearling, lots of cows only calving in April.

    We're authors of our own misfortune anyway!


  • Registered Users Posts: 698 ✭✭✭ mr.stonewall


    _Brian wrote: »
    Wintering costs for sucklers herds must vary dramatically across the country.

    Lads with cows in for 20week winters are spending massively as a result. I would know plenty of lads making 6 months feeding every year. Given current overheads and beef prices this couldn’t work.

    The high numbers of empty cows being carried over is another massive drain on the system.

    The idea of passengers is one that I can't get. The cost of keeping the cow is just huge in the suckler game. If she does not go in calf or lose a calf, she has to go. Simple economics says that.

    I have dropped suckler numbers and switch to a bit of calf to beef over the past few years. Returns are better, for a number of reasons. You don't have to carry the cow, you can get out in the year earlier as you are dealing with lighter stock, thus reducing winter feed costs. While they may not be pretty to look at, they definitely are better on the pocket than a suckler cow.

    An option for the OP is to consider keeping a few calves to year and halves.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,232 ✭✭✭ Hard Knocks


    Well done & thank OP for your honesty
    It doesn’t matter the enterprise, we are all on the same road just different stages
    My Father was talking about a weanling sale in the 80’s where he sold the champion (a CH bull of a FR cow) the calf pair for the roof for the house
    I helping a neighbour about 20 years ago was thinking of leaving milking, the price at the time was the same as it was 20 years previous and the difference the monthly cheque could do for his family

    All our costs are increasing with little reason needed but it takes allot to increase farm gate income


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,028 ✭✭✭ Jjameson


    I can't wait for the day that Irish dairy farms aren't producing pure dirt beef cattle.

    9 or 10000 years ago a man got the brainwave of that rather than hunting a feral calf for another of “quality” beef, maybe if he quietened the cow and robbed a sup of milk he’d have a milk / beef and a easier life!
    The suckler cow was put there because of subsidies, is neither traditional or logical!
    The quality of beef from bred from dairy cattle is second to none.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,028 ✭✭✭ Jjameson


    The Ashdown park hotel in gorey and the family that run it are martyrs for the breed.
    I think it's something like 1300 aax head they rear and fatten. Some family.

    The best beef dinner at any price in the world in my opinion. They grow their own veg as well.


  • Registered Users Posts: 13,186 ✭✭✭✭ Bass Reeves


    The economics of suckler's fa on output. The output off a unit is on average a sub 350 kg weanling/ year. You will keep two finishing, three stores or 4 calf to store units in the same area. The other factor is the inefficiency of the system no matter what way you run it you have multiple different groups that have to be kept separate. Now sometimes lads do not help themselves in number of bunches but I have often seen 5-8 groups of cattle on a Suckler farm. I normally manage with 2-3 bunches.

    Then you do not have the economy of scale when buy inputs especially ration. I buying barley/ maize/ hulls at 270/ ton. There is no doubt that Inputs have out paced outputs substantially in beef and output has become mone complicated with it being s struggle at times to market heavy Suckler cattle and bulls at times.

    Demand for beef had migrated to lighter cattle and traditional breeds. Most lads that change from suckling are happy enough at it. If your land is of decent quality then it's a no brainer.

    Slava Ukrainii



  • Registered Users Posts: 7,086 ✭✭✭ 893bet


    trg wrote: »
    We're in that zone. 6 month winters, keeping empties often to give another chance. Low quality silage, little or no weight gain from weaning to yearling, lots of cows only calving in April.

    We're authors of our own misfortune anyway!

    Dad? Is that you?


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,573 ✭✭✭ farawaygrass


    The economics of suckler's fa on output. The output off a unit is on average a sub 350 kg weanling/ year. You will keep two finishing, three stores or 4 calf to store units in the same area. The other factor is the inefficiency of the system no matter what way you run it you have multiple different groups that have to be kept separate. Now sometimes lads do not help themselves in number of bunches but I have often seen 5-8 groups of cattle on a Suckler farm. I normally manage with 2-3 bunches.

    Then you do not have the economy of scale when buy inputs especially ration. I buying barley/ maize/ hulls at 270/ ton. There is no doubt that Inputs have out paced outputs substantially in beef and output has become mone complicated with it being s struggle at times to market heavy Suckler cattle and bulls at times.

    Demand for beef had migrated to lighter cattle and traditional breeds. Most lads that change from suckling are happy enough at it. If your land is of decent quality then it's a no brainer.

    One of my big issues is all the groups Of cattle with suckling, and for me I couldn’t put one group in a few fields because they’d be too close to another group. It’s very difficult to manage grass at all. I know there are people who do it brilliantly and I tip my hat to them.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,339 ✭✭✭ Grueller


    One of my big issues is all the groups Of cattle with suckling, and for me I couldn’t put one group in a few fields because they’d be too close to another group. It’s very difficult to manage grass at all. I know there are people who do it brilliantly and I tip my hat to them.

    I have sucklers knocking about still and between all of the groups they take nearly as much time as milking a small herd twice a day.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,573 ✭✭✭ farawaygrass


    Grueller wrote: »
    I have sucklers knocking about still and between all of the groups they take nearly as much time as milking a small herd twice a day.

    😂 I’d well believe it.
    I was adamant I was getting out of sucklers last year but kept the bull till june for bdgp. Low snd behold, looking at the cows and calves in the nice summer days I let him out again.
    It’s hard to make the break, a lot of sentiment tied up with it all, but I think, for me it’s the right decision, when ever it happens!


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,824 ✭✭✭ Dunedin


    One of my big issues is all the groups Of cattle with suckling, and for me I couldn’t put one group in a few fields because they’d be too close to another group. It’s very difficult to manage grass at all. I know there are people who do it brilliantly and I tip my hat to them.

    21 cows here and it’s Cows/calves one group, yearlings in second group and 2 year olds in third.

    Where do all the groups come from?

    I have all mine in paddocks and/or ditches cut very low so just need to ensure that there is always a spare field/paddock in between two groups especially with the bull. But with electric fence, there’s very rarely an issue. Bigger groups clean out the paddocks quicker too.


  • Registered Users Posts: 846 ✭✭✭ Anto_Meath


    Dunedin wrote: »
    21 cows here and it’s Cows/calves one group, yearlings in second group and 2 year olds in third.

    Where do all the groups come from?

    I have all mine in paddocks and/or ditches cut very low so just need to ensure that there is always a spare field/paddock in between two groups especially with the bull. But with electric fence, there’s very rarely an issue. Bigger groups clean out the paddocks quicker too.
    Dunedin, I am the same as you, 20 cows, cows & calves in 1 group plus some bucket fed calves that train the Suckler calves into coming the yard for meal & help keep all quite. Then last calves are another group, with a third group of 2 year old, this one could be split at times if I am feeding meal. U need to be ruthless with cow select though, anything not preforming goes no excuses. Bucket fed calf to beef is a lot of work for the weeks you are feeding milk & then they need meal for a good while after they are weaned, do no big pile of money in that either.


  • Registered Users Posts: 13,186 ✭✭✭✭ Bass Reeves


    Dunedin wrote: »
    21 cows here and it’s Cows/calves one group, yearlings in second group and 2 year olds in third.

    Where do all the groups come from?

    I have all mine in paddocks and/or ditches cut very low so just need to ensure that there is always a spare field/paddock in between two groups especially with the bull. But with electric fence, there’s very rarely an issue. Bigger groups clean out the paddocks quicker too.

    Ya for some of the year you can run as a bunch it Priya tad easier if you are squeezing or banding the bulls.

    But earlier I. The year you may have them split. There is always a cow or two that had a hard calving. They bull has to be kept separate from everything else until maybe May if you are compact calving. Then there the bunch that may have young calves, they cow that failed to get up after calving is in a corner somewhere. The co
    Alf who's mother had not enough or no milk. Then there is a couple of culls getting a bit of ration to finish off

    Slava Ukrainii



  • Registered Users Posts: 3,790 ✭✭✭ squinn2912


    I’ve just finished counting it up. 8 groups. We must be insane


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,027 ✭✭✭ tanko


    Ya for some of the year you can run as a bunch it Priya tad easier if you are squeezing or banding the bulls.

    But earlier I. The year you may have them split. There is always a cow or two that had a hard calving. They bull has to be kept separate from everything else until maybe May if you are compact calving. Then there the bunch that may have young calves, they cow that failed to get up after calving is in a corner somewhere. The co
    Alf who's mother had not enough or no milk. Then there is a couple of culls getting a bit of ration to finish off

    No cow had a hard calving here, no bull on the farm, all cows calved in 8 weeks, no cow in a corner somewhere that failed to get up after calving, all the calves seem to be getting enough milk, no culls getting ration to finish off.
    I must be doing something wrong.


  • Registered Users Posts: 11,040 ✭✭✭✭ Geuze


    I am not a farmer. I have farmer friends, and I know a small bit about it. I buy the FJ maybe twice a year, good newspaper.

    I have read articles about the difficulties in suckler beef.

    It wasn't always obvious to me than even within beef farming, there are various different business models.

    Can I ask a few questions about sucker farmers:

    mainly based in west / northwest, is that correct?
    they own X number of cows, and hope to have X calves each year
    they don't use the cows for milk, instead the income is from selling the calf each year
    I'm not clear on what time of year the calf is born?
    I note the points about carrying the cow over the winter
    unlike dairy, it seems to be that income arrives just once a year, when the weanling calves are sold?
    at what age are weanling calves sold?
    who are the buyers of the calves?
    why don't the suckers farmers keep the calves, and finish them?


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,524 ✭✭✭ grassroot1


    tanko wrote: »
    No cow had a hard calving here, no bull on the farm, all cows calved in 8 weeks, no cow in a corner somewhere that failed to get up after calving, all the calves seem to be getting enough milk, no culls getting ration to finish off.
    I must be doing something wrong.

    81 cattle here 1 bunch


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,339 ✭✭✭ Grueller


    tanko wrote: »
    No cow had a hard calving here, no bull on the farm, all cows calved in 8 weeks, no cow in a corner somewhere that failed to get up after calving, all the calves seem to be getting enough milk, no culls getting ration to finish off.
    I must be doing something wrong.

    Nope. You are doing a lot right. I am not trying to be a pedant or a pr1ck here, but, is there money in it even at that?
    I have a load of rosettes here from show and sales. Very, very few sections, very rare a cow down (1 in 10 years from calving), averaged just €1000 a weanling in my best years. Still made next to no money.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,027 ✭✭✭ tanko


    Nope, no money in it.
    I was just replying to the usual predictable lazy bs.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 811 ✭✭✭ Neddyusa


    Grueller wrote: »
    Nope. You are doing a lot right. I am not trying to be a pedant or a pr1ck here, but, is there money in it even at that?
    I have a load of rosettes here from show and sales. Very, very few sections, very rare a cow down (1 in 10 years from calving), averaged just €1000 a weanling in my best years. Still made next to no money.

    That's the point really, even the "top 10%" aren't making any money - breaking even at best.
    Therefore the most efficient beef system is the one that lets you keep just enough heads to keep the grass down and the grants claimed... And leave you enough hours to get out the gate and earn a living in a job that pays.


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