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Trevor Boland March/April Update 2024




  • The 2023 profit monitor results highlight positive progress






  • Getting out to grass
  • Closing for silage – targeting a high quality for 2024


As an accountant, Trevor looks forward to completing a profit monitor for the farm on a yearly basis. The profit monitor allows him to analyse the farm’s financial performance, compare with previous years, and to  benchmark against suckler farmers in the Future Beef group . The profit highlights what is going well on the farm but also demonstrates the areas for improvement. Three main areas to analyse are;

  1. Output per livestock unit(LU)– The kilograms of beef produced for each LU on the farm. Every management practice on the farm affects this; health, mortality, performance at grass and housing, genetics, and in a suckling system the cow & bull fertility and calving spread. The figure for the suckler enterprise on the farm is good at 306kgs//LU. The target for a suckling system  is >350kg/LU.
  2. Stocking rate – The number of livestock units per hectare on the farm. The stocking rate is high, at 152kgs of organic N/ha which equates to 2L.U/ha. A higher stocking rate generally equates to a higher profit, but it is more important that each animal is performing well on the farm beforehand. The farm stocking rate will depend on the grass growth, land quality, labour availability and Nitrates Directive regulations. This figure could be pushed marginally,
  1. Variable costs as a % of gross output – The target is <50% to ensure there is enough money in the pot left to pay the fixed costs and leave a positive net margin. Trevor’s variable costs in 2023 were 55% of output. This is excellent control of costs given that fertiliser and meal cost remained high in 2023. In 2022, the variable cots where 60% of the output figure so there is an overall decline in variable costs of 5 % which is positive progress.

Gross output measures the total sales from the farm minus any purchases. It also takes into account if either the stock numbers decreased or increased at the end of the year and it puts a standard value of these. However, the most important figure here is the Gross output  which is €1,810/ha.  This is a very good figure and Trevor will aim to increase this figure going forward by increasing sales.  The output figure needs to sufficiently high enough to cover both variable and fixed costs of a farm to leave a positive margin.



The total costs per ha is €1,000 leaving margin of €810 /ha. The gross margin in 2022 was €675/ha so it has increased by 20% which is an excellent result. This gross margin is very good for a suckler farmer but Trevor aims to increase it to €1000/ha by increasing the value of sales and by reducing some of the big costs.

The 3 big costs are fertiliser at €383/ha , contractor at €258/ha and meal at €136/ha. These 3 costs account for 78% of all the costs. While fertiliser prices have remained high, the cost of purchasing it in 2024 will be less that what is was in 2023 as fertiliser prices have fallen since. Trevor will be using Protected Urea as his nitrogen source as it is the cheapest per unit. He will aim to get 100% of the slurry out in Spring to make efficient use of this resource and he will target the silage  ground with it also.

In the longer term, Trevor has incorporated clover on one of the outfarms and this will help reduce the amount of fertiliser being purchased.

 Trevor  works full time off-farm and depends of the contractor to complete most of the work. While costs maybe high here , Trevor has saved on investing in machinery and in the running costs such as diesel, maintenance and repairs.

While the meal bill is one of the top 3 costs it is low compared to other drystock farms. Trevor aims to reduce this further by making a high quality 75% DMD silage which is important in an autumn calving system.


The aim is to have all slurry spread in March on both the silage and grazing ground on the home farm.  This will be followed at the beginning of April with protected urea product on the silage ground with the aim of cutting in the third week of May.

Silage ground is currently being grazed by weanling bulls and heifers before they are moved to the outblocks for summer grazing.  This ground will get 2000 glns/acre of watery slurry spread using LESS method and an additional 78 units of Nitrogen/acre.

Grazing ground will get an initial 28 units of N and further fertiliser applications will depend on demand, grass growth and the requirement of P and K, based on recent soil test results.

Turnout will be based on the amount of grass available and ground conditions. Weanlings bulls and heifers have been let out to grass full time on the home block in the last week of February. Bulls weighed an average of 276 kgs at an average of 188 days old.  Heifers weighed on average 262kgs at 192 days old.

Picture 1: Autumn born weanlings are out full time and on 1.5kg of meal/day

Beef and breeding heifers will be following in early March and the suckler cows after that.  The aim is to have all stock at grass by the middle to end of March. However, Trevor will complete and farm walk and grass measurement in the first week of March. Letting out more stock will be based and grass cover available, growth rates and ground conditions.

Picture 2 & 3: Autumn calves are now weaned