MOT your sheep or beef enterprise and discover the route to better returns

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1 MOT your sheep or beef enterprise and discover the route to better returns Make 2010 the year you sit down and take time to really understand the physical and fi nancial dynamics of your sheep or beef enterprise. By analysing performance along with the costs of production you can discover the areas of your business which could potentially generate better returns if managed differently. To help you do this EBLEX is offering a FREE ENTERPRISE MOT to English sheep and beef producers. Simply fill one of the forms inside this leaflet with some basic facts about your enterprise and send it back to EBLEX. The information supplied will be treated in confidence and for the purpose of this Enterprise MOT only. The data will be entered into the EBLEX Snapshot Bronze computer program and the MOT results sent back to you. Traffic light signposts will clearly highlight different levels of concern for each aspect of the enterprise. Targets Wall Chart EBLEX will also send you a wall chart on which to set some improvement targets for the year ahead. Discuss these targets with your staff and family, fill in the chart and stick it on the Do you know all your costs? office wall for everyone to see. This will act as a gentle, yet ever-present reminder of the changes you want to make, and how you intend to achieve them. Imagine how good it will feel in 12 month s to see that you accomplished, if not all, then at least some of your 2010 targets. Highlights areas where there is room for improvement Shows the areas that are OK Shows where you are doing well The results of the MOT will help you prioritise areas for future action. To calculate the true cost of your enterprise, consider all the bills that have to be paid from your returns. Turn the page for your Enterprise MOT form

2 MOT for Beef Finishers How to use these forms 1. Fill out the appropriate form using the latest figures available 2. Post, fax or scan and your completed form to EBLEX (addresses at bottom of forms) 3. In return, EBLEX will send you a printed Snapshot Bronze report, highlighting areas of strength and weakness in your enterprise compared to the national average. Traffic lights will clearly highlight different levels of concern red will signal areas that require greatest attention, green those aspects of the business that are already performing well. You will also receive a wall chart to record key target actions you choose to focus on in the year ahead. ABOUT YOU Some helpful hints have been included in grey. Please write your answer over the top of them. Name Farm/Business Name Address Line 2 Address Line 3 Address Line 4 County and Post Code address Contact Telephone Number YOUR BEEF FINISHING ENTERPRISE Steers Heifers Bulls How many cattle do you finish each year? What is the approximate split (%)? Average start weight (kg liveweight) Average start age (months) Average purchased price or transferred value ( /head) Average finish weight (kg deadweight) Average finished age (months) Average finished price ( /head) Average mortality over the finishing period (%) Enter average price paid or value at which calves were transferred across from the suckler herd if home-bred. Enter the percentage of animals that died during the last complete production cycle. Percentage finished cattle sold deadweight (%) Include animals sold through a marketing group as well as those sent straight to an abattoir. FOR THOSE SELLING DEADWEIGHT 3 4L 4H Using R4L as the baseline, what premiums/deductions in p/kg deadweight are usual for your sales? FEED COSTS Average price of purchased or home-grown concentrates ( /t) LABOUR Family Employed How much labour (family and employed) is used? (Full time equivalents) OTHER INFORMATION Is your Finisher Enterprise Organic? U R O+ 0 Estimate the average cost of the finishing ration. Value home-grown cereals at market price and add any milling and mixing costs. Include costs for bought-in protein. Exclude all forage costs such as silage. For example: 50% of a family member s time and 50% of an employee s time = 0.5 family employed. All information will be treated confidentially. Send your completed form to:- Post: Heather Stewart, EBLEX, Ashton House, Ambury Road South, Huntingdon PE29 3EH Fax: Scan and FB

3 MOT for Suckler Calf Producers ABOUT YOU Name Farm/Business Name Address Line 2 Address Line 3 Address Line 4 County and Post Code address Contact Telephone Number YOUR SUCKLER HERD Number of pure or cross bred native cows Number of pure or cross bred continental cows Number of pure or cross bred native bulls Number of pure or cross bred continental bulls Number of barren cows Number of cow deaths Number of purchased replacement heifers (in calf or calves at foot) Purchase price of replacements Number of home bred replacement heifers (in calf or calves at foot) CALVES Number of live calves born to the cows above Number of calves bought-in Number of calves weaned from the cows above and any calves bought-in Typical age that calves are weaned (months) Typical weight of calves at weaning (kg) Mortality percentage Birth to Weaning % WEANED CALF/STORE SALES Number of calves or stores sold Typical age of calf or stores at sale or transfer into the finishing enterprise (months) Typical weight of calf or store (kg) at sale or transfer into the finishing enterprise Typical value of calf or store ( ) at sale or transfer into the finishing enterprise Some helpful hints have been included in grey. Please write your answer over the top of them. Enter the number found barren during the last production cycle. Enter the number of deaths during the last production cycle. In-calf or with calves at foot. Do not enter bulling heifers. Enter the average value of replacements you have bought and the value of homebred stock. The latter should reflect their market value rather than a book value. Enter the number of homebred in-calf or calved heifers that have joined the herd in the last production cycle. Enter the number of calves that were born alive and survived at least 24 hours. Enter the number of calves that have been bought to foster onto a heifer or cow who had a dead calf. Enter the number of calves that are alive at weaning. If you finish your own calves, now is the time to transfer them into the finishing system. If you finish your own calves, this is the age they should be transferred across into the finishing system. If you do not know the exact figure, estimate a weight; 5 months 205kg, 6 months 235kg, 7 months 265kg, 8 months 300kg, 9 months 330kg. Enter the number sold or transferred to your own finishing system. LABOUR Family Employed How much labour (family and employed) is used? (Full time equivalents) OTHER INFORMATION Is your Suckler Enterprise Organic? Is your Suckler Unit LFA or Lowland? For example: 50% of a family member s time and 50% of an employee s time = 0.5 family employed = 1 full time equivalent. All information will be treated confidentially. Send your completed form to:- Post: Heather Stewart, EBLEX, Ashton House, Ambury Road South, Huntingdon PE29 3EH Fax: Scan and FB

4 MOT for Sheep Producers ABOUT YOU Some helpful hints have been included in grey. Please write your answer over the top of them. Name Farm/Business Name Address Line 2 Address Line 3 Address Line 4 County and Post Code address Contact Telephone Number YOUR FLOCK Flock type (hill, upland or lowland) Number of ewes Enter the number of ewes put to the ram during the last production cycle. Number of rams Enter the number of rams put to the number of ewes stated above. Number of ewe deaths Enter the number of ewes that died during the last production cycle. Number of replacements transferred from Enter the number of retained lambs put to the ram in the last production cycle. own retained lamb Number of replacement ewes purchased Enter the number of purchased ewes put to the ram in the last production cycle. LAMBS Number of lambs born alive and survived for more than 24 hours Number of lambs weaned Number of lambs sold as finished lambs Age at sale of finished lambs (months) Average sale weight of finished lambs Eg: If most sold at 38kg to 42kg, enter 40kg. If sold mainly deadweight, divide (kg liveweight) carcase weight by 0.47 eg = 41.5kg. Average sales value of all finished lambs Eg: If most sold at 40 to 45/head enter 43. Percentage of lambs reared sold finished (%) Percentage of lambs reared sold as stores (%) Ie through a marketing group or direct to an abattoir. Percentage of lambs sold deadweight (%) Percentage of lambs sold or retained for breeding (%) FOR THOSE SELLING DEADWEIGHT 2 3L 3H Using R3L as the baseline, what premiums/deductions in p/kg deadweight are usual for your sales? FEED COSTS Average price of ewe concentrates ( /t) Average price of lamb concentrates ( /t) U R O Fed during the last production cycle. Fed during the last production cycle. LABOUR Family Employed How much labour (family and employed) is used? (Full time equivalents) OTHER INFORMATION Is your Sheep Enterprise Organic? 0 For example: 50% of a family member s time and 50% of an employee s time = 0.5 family employed = 1 full time equivalent. All information will be treated confidentially. Send your completed form to:- Post: Heather Stewart, EBLEX, Ashton House, Ambury Road South, Huntingdon PE29 3EH Fax: Scan and FB

5 Controlling costs the key to better returns on sheep and beef farms Rigorous cost control David Meredith West Farm Aston Eyre Shropshire We keep variable costs to an absolute minimum. As the pastures are in Countryside Stewardship no fertiliser or sprays are used. Veterinary costs are low through good stockmanship and bedding is grown on the farm, as is most of the feed for the cows and the finishing diet. The winter ration is driven by cost. We do not grow crops specifically for the cows, but offer waste products according to the season and prices, like surplus potatoes or straw. Round bale grass silage is cut from the six metre margins surrounding the arable fields. Flexible The system is flexible allowing us to react and adapt our management to ensure the cows make a positive financial contribution to the business. I produce budgets using spreadsheets and compare our performance against industry standards. Currently our variable and fixed costs are significantly lower than the best performing herds recorded in the latest set of EBLEX Business Pointers. Farm Facts 196ha permanent pasture and arable 60 commercial suckler cows Calves finished at months. Minimising costs and hassle Stuart Stark Fridlington Farms Sutton on Forest York We have developed a system for our sheep flocks which keeps costs and hassle to a minimum. Our easy-lambing ewes out-winter on fodder beet until March, at a cost of 4/ewe, before lambing at grass in mid-april. Ewes may receive a supplement six weeks before lambing. The lambs are weaned in August, and most are finished off red clover/perennial ryegrass silage aftermaths or grass with some concentrate feed. Costs are also contained by sampling and fact-finding. Slurry from the 1,000 sow pig herd is analysed and spread onto the grass according to nutrient content and crop need. Reduced vet s bill Sheep are wormed according to faecal egg counts. As a result the ewes are no longer routinely drenched and lambs only when required which has reduced the vet s bill. We have managed to pare down costs to the bare minimum without compromising animal welfare and product quality. This allows us to run a profitable sheep enterprise without relying on the Single Farm Payment. Farm Facts 1100ha mixed farm 4,000 ewes in two flocks April-born lambs finished for Marks and Spencer. Decisions made on facts Mike Powley Elm House Farm Green Hammerton York Nothing happens by accident here, we record everything so that we can plan appropriate management and future action. Decisions are made on facts alone: AI bulls are chosen on the basis of their Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs), grass varieties are chosen off the latest NIAB List, and fertiliser is applied strictly to need, based on regular soil analysis. Recording Physical data on every animal is recorded as it happens in an EBLEX Herd Note Book. This information, entered into a simple computer spreadsheet, relates in just one line the performance history of every animal from birth to slaughter. We want to produce a product that attracts the highest returns, but not for any price. Keeping costs down is core to everything we do. While variable costs are kept to a minimum, we also keep a tight grip on fixed costs. We are always questioning how we can make the system work more efficiently. We are paid on weight, so if we can push an extra 0.1kg a day out of the finishing cattle, it could be worth over 80 an animal. Farm Facts 151 ha 100 cow suckler herd Predominantly South Devon x Limousin Red Cows Red cow x Belgian Blue bull calves finished for export market at months

6 Top tips for keeping track of costs Use a chalk board in the feed preparation area to mark down the number of bags or buckets fed each day. Divide by the number of animals to calculate a fed/day/animal figure Keep a notebook in the fork-lift/teleporter to jot down how much straw is used to bed each group of animals On farms with both sheep and beef, ask the vet to split the bill between the two to make allocating costs simpler Ensure farm staff and family labour write down activities against hours worked to ensure a fair apportionment of costs Keep a health book in the medicine cupboard and record all drug use Examine invoices carefully when they arrive and keep up to date with current prices Shop around for everything you buy. Have the phone numbers of trusted suppliers in your phone so it is easy to get a number of quotes before committing to purchase Continually challenge yourself to find ways of doing things better and/or more cheaply Encourage staff to take an active interest in the success of the business by offering a bonus for reduced costs or increased productivity. EBLEX would like to hear from you if you have any practical tips for keeping track of the inputs, performance or costs on your farm. Win 50! with any simple ideas. The best reply as judged by the BRP team, will win 50. Sign up to BRP The publications, tools and events organised by the Sheep and Beef Better Returns Programmes are available free of charge to all English producers. 24,000 farmers have already signed-up to receive regular mailings of practical, technical material on a wide range of topics including health and fertility, livestock marketing, grassland management and feeding as well as disease alerts and notices of forthcoming events and meetings. your name and address to or call if you would like to receive this free, independent and useful information. Making recordkeeping easy BRP has produced a suite of tools to help producers easily track the physical and financial performance of their livestock enterprises. Flock Note book/ Herd Note book Ideal tools for capturing information throughout the working day. Pocket-size these handy little booklets have pages for noting down everything from calving/ lambing details to medicines given, and from animals sold to quantities of bedding used each day. Costings Manual A quick, 15-minute read outlining the basics of collecting performance data and processing the figures into a format that allows more informed decision-making. Snapshot Programmes Electronic tools developed by EBLEX farm business economists to help producers find out more about the performance of their enterprises. Snapshot Bronze highlights the strongest and weakest areas of the business, using easy to understand traffic light symbols. Snapshot Silver incorporates variable costs to calculate a Gross Margin figure for the enterprise. Snapshot Gold a complete costings package which takes account of variable and fixed costs to produce a Net Margin figure. Snapshot What if? gives an idea of how physical changes to the enterprise, such as increased feed prices or improved fertility, could impact on the overall performance of the business. EBLEX Business Pointers Updated annually, Business Pointers allows producers to compare their physical and financial results with other sheep and beef farmers who are running similar operations. Figures for average and top third performers are quoted so that producers can benchmark their performance within the industry. For more information contact: EBLEX is a division of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board EBLEX BRP Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth, Warwickshire CV8 2TL Tel: Fax: EBLEX 2010 Order your copies today! The Flock Note book, Herd Note book and Costings Manual are available by ing or calling The Snapshot Programmes and EBLEX Business Pointers can be found online at

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