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Beef Farming- Are you full time/part time?

  • 16-04-2023 10:37am
    Registered Users Posts: 1,598 ✭✭✭

    Following on from an idea on the Suckler Scep thread. It would be interesting to get a snap shop of where our industry is going. The votes are anonymous

    Beef Farming- Are you full time/part time? 77 votes

    Full time ( Sole income)
    9% 7 votes
    Part time (off farm income)
    88% 68 votes
    Part time (other farm enterprise
    2% 2 votes



  • Registered Users Posts: 36 Itryhard

    I think another interesting poll would be how many farmers are loss making each year - per there end of year accounts...

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,092 ✭✭✭Packrat

    No option for off farm work plus another farm enterprise, which would describe many people with sheep as well.

    “The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command”

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,598 ✭✭✭mr.stonewall

    With the quick snapshot it's next to near impossible to get a slot for everyone.

    The results so far are about more shocking than I thought. But it's a reflection of where the beef sector is.

    The big question how do we get more farmers being fulltime in beef. Is it a matter of just bigger numbers and acres and if so where do we land at?

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,721 ✭✭✭893bet

    Why would we want more fulltime beef farmers? Why is this better?

    Diversity of income is great so that in a bad year (3.50 kg of beef or you get your hours cut in the off farm) that you can fall back on the other income.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,598 ✭✭✭mr.stonewall

    Having an industry based on part timers, is that good either. By the way I'm part time.

    Its a question we all have to look at

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  • Registered Users Posts: 5,946 ✭✭✭emaherx

    Part time here, the farm has always been part time. Dad milked 20-30 cows and kept another 20 sucklers through the 80's and 90's but he had an off farm job too, he increased suclker and drystock numers after he retired from the day job but stopped milking. I wouldn't fancy milking any number of cows on a part time basis myself.

    I've been keeping just a suckler herd, I was working full time for a large multinational tech company, but I took a decent redundancy package when it was offered and paid it off the mortgage, now I work part time off farm for a farm software company, think that's as close to full time farming as I will get (unless I win the lotto 😁). I plan on selling sucklers at end of year and buying calves in the spring.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,542 ✭✭✭Cavanjack

    I think the average farm size in Ireland is round 30 hectares. The average dairy farm is closer to 60 hectares. Then you’ve tillage farms which are probably bigger than 60 hectares. This probably leaves the average beef farm at round 20-25 hectares with a vast majority of them under 20 hectares.

    I wouldn’t call your results shocking. A 60 hectare finishing farm with good facilities is part time. I know a couple of lads running 80 suckler cows and they’ve full time jobs (and quiet women).

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,218 ✭✭✭Dunedin

    The reality is the beef farming is not a full time job on most farms. With a reasonable set up, most people would do their work in a 10-20 hour per week window and therefore unless they’re into day time tv, they will want to work full time.

    of course the bigger picture is the financial one. Ya simply won’t survive and pay rhe bills on a beef farm without off farm job.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,299 ✭✭✭Anto_Meath

    You would need at least 100 acres of good owned land to make a living to be a full time farmer. If the 100 acres was in 1 block then dairy is route to go, a lot of work but a guaranteed pay cheque every month. If the 100 acres is dived over 4 -5 blocks then you could run a good beef farm and make a living. Any more blocks then it would just be hassle you would spend more time traveling between them than actually doing anything productive.

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 3,020 Mod ✭✭✭✭K.G.

    I m just curious is there any non suckler fulltime beef farmer.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,899 ✭✭✭farawaygrass

    You reckon? Id say at 100 acres it’d still be very tight at beef

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,299 ✭✭✭Anto_Meath

    @farawaygrass it would depend on your system, but if you could have on average 15 cattle a month to sell with about €175 for your pocket plus the cheque in the post at the end of the year then you would be doing OK.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,199 ✭✭✭tanko

    Calving 80 sucklers in a fairly compact calving system is a full time job by itself unless you want dead cows and calves. What full time job do these lads have? is the auld lad at home jacking calves or are they running home from the full time job?

    Around here the lads with 20-30 sucklers and a “full time” job are usually self employed tradesmen who can watch the camera and drop everything and head home to help a cow or work in the local Co op and are given a bit of flexibility with time if they have to head home.

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 3,620 Mod ✭✭✭✭Siamsa Sessions

    My tuppence worth since I'm looking into options at the moment that might allow me to become a full-time farmer...

    For non-suckler beef on 100 acres you need plenty sheds and slurry storage, and as many paddocks as a dairy farm if you were to do it right. Assuming it's good land, and all in 1-2 blocks, you'd finish 90-100 cattle per year. If you're buying them as weanlings, that's another 90-100 animals to look after. Maybe 110-120 if you're inclined to push it.

    There'd be nearly as much work with that as with milking 50-60 cows.

    Trading as Sullivan’s Farm on YouTube

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,299 ✭✭✭Anto_Meath

    @tanko they could all be feeding their cows in the morning so that the cows calf at night then when they are all at home...

    No but you are right, I have 20 suckler cows and the brother has similar, he does shift work and I work from home any day he is in on shift at this time of year, that way we can assist one another if a cow is in bother. Happens rarely as we both use easy calving LM for this very reason. But only for there is some bit of cover around I can guarantee there would be no cows on either farm.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    The kind of people that farmers are they don’t want to be idle.

    Plenty of lads milking with jobs as well.

    Say a family farm with a parent / child or husband / wife. There is scope in that set up for one or both to be working as long as the schedules work.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,542 ✭✭✭Cavanjack

    Yeah one is a self employed plumber, the other works shift. The plumber can drop all anytime he wants. The shift worker takes time off in the spring but does have lads in to help too.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,299 ✭✭✭Anto_Meath

    @Barktastic I would say there is very few farms of any type in the country that there isn't a second income coming into the home, be it the husband or wife work off farm and it is that way a long time. I remember years a ago an old farmer who was after spending some time in Navan hospital telling my father that there wasn't a nurse in it who hadn't wellie marks on her legs.. I had to get my father to explain what the old farmer meant to me.. Many farmers also have other little enterprise running like hacking cattle to the local mart for lads, or monitoring the local river for the inland fisheries, reading ESB meters, doing Bord Bia audits or odd days with the farm relief.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,899 ✭✭✭farawaygrass

    What other little enterprises are doable for a dry stock farmer, preferably ones which you can do on the farm. I often thought about a small firewood business as one. Can’t think of others at the top of my head

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,542 ✭✭✭Cavanjack

    A great one I always if you lived near a big town is house maintenance. Clean gutters, power wash cut grass. You’d have a tractor, trailer ibc’s, power washer. No big outlay. All cash and a great demand for this sort of work. Also very easy to work your day around the farm.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 5,100 ✭✭✭Grueller

    I wore that 80 cow suckler hers and full time job t-shirt for 10 years nearly. I now milk 70 cows and have the off farm gig cut to half hours and I am less busy. Less batches of stock make an awful difference to time spent.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,199 ✭✭✭tanko

    I don’t mean to be pedantic but those lads are full time farmers during calving season or they have a person available to be full time in their yard when needed. In reality they don’t have a full time job and farm part time, it’s just not that simple or easy.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,899 ✭✭✭farawaygrass

    Ya very true. You’d think there’s no demand for jobs like this but it’s when you go looking for someone you realise lads are in very short supply

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,542 ✭✭✭Cavanjack

    Yeah it’s lunacy from what I can see. Only so long the body can last at it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,946 ✭✭✭emaherx

    Just like everyone else so, I'd say there are very few households rural or urban with just one income these days.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,946 ✭✭✭emaherx

    I wasn't a self employed tradesman and managed for years, cameras and a bit of running home when necessary and/or a bit of help from family members, but most cows calved unassisted while I was at home anyway. Choice of cows and bulls made for easy calving. But I work from home now which makes things easier.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,036 ✭✭✭funkey_monkey

    Anyone at sucklers full time here has a nice subsidy payment that brings in more than the majority of p/t are getting off farm.

  • Registered Users Posts: 656 ✭✭✭ABitofsense

    Same as here. Part-time small suckler farm (16 calved/calving this year) with very good flexible job. Only way it works for me is proven LM bulls with good cows, good setup with cameras & pins, trained cows to few nuts, paddocks system so cows and calves used to being moved & handled every few days and neighbors to call on if stuck. Luckily my father still about to throw an eye on too.

    It makes money and I see myself always doing sucklers. There is nothing better than walking through new calves each year and see how they turn out.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    If you can manage the farm on the side then does it make sense to go full time farming?

    I mean farming can be lonely. You don’t meet too many people. In a job you get a guaranteed income and paid holidays etc. Something like 40% of workers in the uk (not sure of figures here) can work from home. You could go in to the office here and there for a change of scenery or a bit of craic etc or even good coffee.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,598 ✭✭✭mr.stonewall

    Set up and planning ahead is key. I'm part time rearing 50+ calves for beef and 25 Sucklers as well for good measure.

    Simple things like a bit of focus on proven easy calving is a big help. I moved my calving to April a few years back and it has been a game changer. Compact calving is key. Focus is on cow going in calf, calving on their own and calf getting up and going. Troublesome ladies get the road. Outdoor calving in a bit of paddock marked for a bit of reseeding. Now this year has been tricky weatherwise, so adapted and let out in the morning and back in a night for grub. Pull any out near calving and put under the camera. There will always be a difficult case with some, like at the weekend I had one coming backwards. Having easy calving let's the cow go back in calf easier and breeding in late June early July means cows have a good plane of nutrition, these little things help.

    By moving the calving to April, it lets the foucs in Feb and march be towards the calf rearing and getting out yearling stock. Having an empty yard or near empty yard at calving is a super help.

    Facilities and your work practices of the everyday tasks are key. Being able to do your farming in a quicker, safer and less manual handling is vital. Even the job of having all the fodder in the yard for the winter is huge. Hanging gates and good lighting a must. Even the meal bin and getting it filled rather than messing with time collecting bags or half ton bags every week or 2.

    Finally the tax side. For a good number of use the day job has us in the higher tax band. Therefore it is vital that we use deprecation annually to make our time spent on the farm more efficiently, we have no excuse after that is the pension or other investments. I would rank the farm investments in the following order

    1. Housing

    2. Fencing + water

    3. Cattle handling

    4. Roadways

    5. Machinery and plant if needed.

    When we are limited on the time spent on our farms, it's what we use daily and interact daily with is what has to get the priority for upgrading. We tend to nearly plan our days and farming activities better than most full time folks, even bringing good work practices from our experiences off farm

    Finally, we all need a bit of a project on the farm that may last a few weeks or months. This helps greatly for me

    Nearly there. Sunday's are a handy day here, bar calving or a bit of hay or silage down. Its herding and taking time at it, even bring the kids and just taking in all around, be it nature or seeing stock relaxed.

    All this typed while watching the camera.

    Update. Cow calved, up and sucking

    Post edited by mr.stonewall on