Step by step improvements are the key to Scotland’s best performing growers


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Scottish producers with cumulative marginal gains continue to dominate the top third of players in the livestock industry, according to a new report.

Gradual improvements are critical to the success of Scotland’s top-performing producers, according to the Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) report, which examines the company’s profitability for the 2020 crop year for calves and lambs.

Its findings continue to demonstrate the correlation between technical performance, sound economic management and lower emissions intensity for the best.

The 2020 crop year for calves and lambs will be remembered for the challenges created by the pandemic and Brexit, which disrupted markets in their initial stages.

But we should also remember the high farm gate prices for cattle and sheep, which have contributed to a general improvement in margins.

QMS chief economist Stuart Ashworth said there was still significant variation in levels of financial and technical performance within the industry.

“Achieving a market margin that rewards family labor and provides a return on the capital invested in breeding businesses remains elusive. “

He added that once again, the report shows the rewards that come with improving animal husbandry efficiency.

“Good calving and lambing ratios, working hard to minimize your mortality in the animal husbandry and trade, working hard to understand where you are selling these animals wisely, and choosing good genetics all help to get better. results, ”he said.

“Likewise, improvements in the efficiency of resource use can contribute to greater profitability. “

The report highlights the benefits that come from maximizing the potential and quality of grass and animals through managing their nutrition and health, and finding new ideas and innovations.

“The gains from these individual details may seem small, but, when added up, they lead to useful cumulative marginal gains in terms of input efficiency and cost savings,” Ashworth said.

The report, which provides a snapshot of the industry in 2020, compares for each industry the costs, revenues and margins achieved by the top third of producers, bottom third and the sample average.

The results omit agricultural support payments and strongly highlight the variation in technical and financial performance that exists when comparing the top third of Scottish producers to the bottom third.

For a sixth year, estimates have been made on the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the companies surveyed, and are reported on the basis of the net live weight produced or added during the year surveyed.

Over time there have been reductions in emissions, but the results also show the challenge of reporting the kilo of production, which can be affected by weather conditions at key times of the year and the higher level inputs needed to maintain animal welfare during these times. periods of meteorological challenges.

Mr Ashworth said: “If you want to be lucky enough to have a self-sustaining, viable and long-term business, it is mainly about technical efficiency, but understanding the market demands and meeting those demands also pays off. .

“As potential future changes in the structure of agricultural support and extreme weather conditions become more frequent, this could become increasingly important. “

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