Profit (!) Per Ewe.

Aye-up,

I had an interesting over-the-gate conversation with some bloke the other day. He was surprised to see lambs in January and was asking various questions as to how we run our little sheep hobby. Despite me telling him several times how we are only dabbling at the moment, he seemed very interested in profit margins and the cost of everything. We have had people thinking sheep are worth £9000 (yes, nine thousand pounds) each.

He asked how much I was looking to make per ewe. When I replied that I was sure they would lose money, he couldn't believe it. Various comments about business and industry standards followed. I listened intently, trying to keep my patience and do a bit of good PR.

Eventually he asked how much a proper sheep farmer would look to make per ewe. Even after explaining the many variables of land ownership vs renting and different sheep farming systems, he was still amazed that I couldn't give him a straight answer. I finished by telling him that a 500 ewe sheep farmer would probably just have to be happy with a modest wage and forget about actual profit.

He said we were all mad. I went off and found myself agreeing with his thoughts!

I have asked before on TFF how come no-one ever makes any money. Is there such a thing as a profit margin in sheep? Am I wasting my time thinking we have anything but a hobby here? There is 37 acres of unused land adjoining my fields, but am I wasting my time asking if I can rent it? There is 110 acres of underused grass within 2 miles of here. With our 14acres the adjoining 37 would make a nice little block, but should I stay just hobbying?

I know it's a numbers game, but there must be some sort of idea about small flock margins!

Help me out. I could crunch all the numbers but there's nothing better than experienced opinion. Just put aside all the "must be mad" stuff for a while!!

Cheers, Pete.
 

Kevtherev

Member
Location
Welshpool Powys
ImageUploadedByTFF1420365428.140073.jpg

Pete sold a few lambs last week............
 

Hampton

Member
BASIS
Location
Shropshire
I've got sheep, cattle and arable.
Currently lambing first 300. They should be done by end of month and be turned out. Cattle will calve later this month and into February, and earliest 15 will be moved into one of the old lambing yards to make room in the cattle shed. Ewes and lambs wil be turned out on fields for a month that will then be used for cows and calves in mid to late April. Then silage will be made on other fields and the cows will go on their, until after second cut ( first cut hay) when sheep will replace the cattle on the silage fields and cows will go on second cut new grass. Cows will then come in and sheep will probably roam on all grassland until early group come in in dec.
Oh I forgot the March April lambers which will come inside before being turned out on some new grassland.
In essence I am having 2/3 crops of something (lambs, calves, hay, silage) off grassland and using the lambing sheds 3 times, once for cattle.
Try costing that in and it shows how complicated it can be. Granted it is easier if you are a pure sheep farmer, but most lowland farmers aren't.

I have got some £9k ewes for sale if the bloke is interested though!
 
I've got sheep, cattle and arable.
Currently lambing first 300. They should be done by end of month and be turned out. Cattle will calve later this month and into February, and earliest 15 will be moved into one of the old lambing yards to make room in the cattle shed. Ewes and lambs wil be turned out on fields for a month that will then be used for cows and calves in mid to late April. Then silage will be made on other fields and the cows will go on their, until after second cut ( first cut hay) when sheep will replace the cattle on the silage fields and cows will go on second cut new grass. Cows will then come in and sheep will probably roam on all grassland until early group come in in dec.
Oh I forgot the March April lambers which will come inside before being turned out on some new grassland.
In essence I am having 2/3 crops of something (lambs, calves, hay, silage) off grassland and using the lambing sheds 3 times, once for cattle.
Try costing that in and it shows how complicated it can be. Granted it is easier if you are a pure sheep farmer, but most lowland farmers aren't.

I have got some £9k ewes for sale if the bloke is interested though!


I did say to him that, at that price, he could buy the lot and have a go himself, but he said if it doesn't make money he would rather not. Shrewd bloke.

Are you making any money?
 
my brother done a few sums and thinks 6000 per 100 ewes what does that sound like to others


So is that his wage or clear profit after his wage? Does he own or rent? Excuse me if I'm asking daft or prying questions, but I genuinely have no idea about farm incomes or profits. Until this time last year I have never farmed an acre myself.

We don't claim any BPS on our patch so does that make a huge difference to profits.?



Half an hour on.............just replacing a bulb on Mrs COP's car and had a "PING!" moment! £60 per ewe profit! Don't think so!


Reason for edit: I'm a d!ckhead.
 
Last edited:

Razor8

Member
Location
Ireland
For what's it worth

I run lowland sheep here and it costs anything from €80-€110 to keep a ewe for the year, that covers vets, meds, meal, silage/hay, dosing, maintainance on farm & machinery, vaccines, winter grazing, insurance, contractors, diesel etc
Meal and dosing can vary a lot due to weather
Most lambs are finished on grass but profit is dependant on price at point of sale, ave this year c€95 selling slightly over 1.5 but aiming for for 1.7

So lambs sold per ewe is ave €142.50 minus cost @ ave
€100 which is profit of €42.50

If renting you need to deduct costs per sheep
A % of any New machinery, reseeds or sheds constructed etc i also needs to deducted

No fortune to be made that's for sure!
 

Hampton

Member
BASIS
Location
Shropshire
I make a profit on my sheep 470 ewes, but would need 3 or 4 times that number to make sensible money if I was purely sheep. Ie it's a good bit of income at a necessary time, at 1.5 lambs per ewe, 700 lambs isn't going to give you enough turnover to make megabucks
 
Assuming land is rented, I reckon I need about 500-600 ewes to make a reasonable wage, excluding sub etc. That would include some tup and breeding stock sales. I did a proper breakdown of my inputs and out puts a couple of years ago and found that I was making a gross margin of over £60 per ewe. But fixed costs spread over a small number meant that the net margin dropped to about £10 per ewe.
 
Interesting post Pete, maybe the problem is people still thinking farming is paying megabucks. There is still a lot of ignorance of the realities of farming despite seemingly increased media exposure- maybe it's putting across a distorted view of it!

Sheep farming has to be a numbers game because even in a good year the margin per ewe cannot get above a certain figure. It depends on so many variables- how much is land to rent, how much do you feed that every farmer probably has a different figure in their head.
 

Razor8

Member
Location
Ireland
Where you're going wrong is paying attention to eblex figures.

Agreed, you need to do your own figures every year and scrutinise, stocking rate and particularly land type and if clean ground have huge influence on performance

It's only when you know your own figures you see can see where savings can be made. I'm also trying to weed out poor performers and buying rams with good figures and see a slight improvement each year
 

GTB

Never Forgotten
Honorary Member
I couldn't really answer your question Pete. We keep suckler cows and sheep and it's very hard to split costs between them accurately. All I can say is that some years the sfp keeps us afloat, other years we make a bit and tend to reinvest that. We are still in business, we'll never get rich but we do manage to buy a bit more land every now and then.

Our bank manager says that business plans are usually fantasy as no-one ever knows what next years prices/costs/profit/loss will be. What you also need to remember is that farmers usually 'earn' more than they tell the taxman and that a lot of living costs and expenses get paid for, or subsidized by, the farm one way or another.
 
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onthehoof

Member
Location
Cambs
Agreed, you need to do your own figures every year and scrutinise, stocking rate and particularly land type and if clean ground have huge influence on performance

It's only when you know your own figures you see can see where savings can be made. I'm also trying to weed out poor performers and buying rams with good figures and see a slight improvement each year
Yes, by comparing your own figures against everyone else's
 

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Man fined £300 for bonfire-related waste offences

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Written by William Kellett from Agriland

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A man has pleaded guilty at Newtownards Magistrates’ Court to waste offences relating to a bonfire next to the electrical sub-station on the Circular Road in Newtownards, Co. Down.

Gareth Gill (51) of Abbot’s Walk, Newtownards pleaded guilty to two charges under the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997, for which he was fined £150 each and ordered to pay a £15 offender’s levy

On June 25, 2018, PSNI officers went to Gill’s yard, where they found a large amount of waste consisting of scrap wood, pallets, carpet and underlay.

Discussion with Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) officers confirmed the site...
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