Benchmarking technical and economic performance of beef cow-calf to finishing production systems in Ireland


      The objectives of this study were, for cow-calf to finishing production systems, to benchmark animal and financial performance of Irish “national average” farms (AVE) and farms participating in a farm improvement program (IMP) with experimental research farm systems finishing male progeny as steers (RES-S) or bulls (RES-B), and to identify key technical characteristics and financial drivers within these 3 farm categories. Stocking rate, BW output per livestock unit, and carcass weight per day were less on AVE and IMP compared with RES-S/RES-B. Age at first calving was 31.5, 28.9, and 24.0 mo on AVE, IMP, and RES-S/RES-B, respectively. Calving rate and weaning rate were less on AVE than on IMP, and these rates were less on IMP than on RES-S/RES-B. Gross output value and costs per hectare were least on AVE and greatest on RES-S/RES-B. Feed-related costs accounted for 36, 50, 47, and 58% of total costs per hectare on AVE, IMP, RES-S, and RES-B, respectively. Fixed costs accounted for the largest proportion of AVE total costs. Costs of production per kilogram of beef BW equated to $4.73 (€4.04), $2.26 (€1.93), $1.78 (€1.52), and $2.04 (€1.74) on AVE, IMP, RES-S, and RES-B, respectively. A negative net profit per hectare of −$897 (−€767) was achieved by AVE; IMP, RES-S, and RES-B attained net profits per hectare of $208 (€178), $587 (€502), and $405 (€346), respectively. Key performance indicators underpinning profitable beef cow-calf to finishing systems include high individual animal performance (cow reproduction and progeny growth), optimal stocking rates, and low fixed and purchased feed costs.

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