Rearing beef a lean business indeed :The Scotsman

UK - A way of life? Possibly. A hobby as well as a job? It has to be. A profitable way of earning a living? Absolutely not.
calendar icon 16 November 2006
clock icon 1 minute read
Not for the first time, new figures have confirmed that there are three certain ways to lose money. Of these wine and women might be most fun, betting on horses most exciting, but keeping beef cattle is most certain.

Figures published by Quality Meat Scotland yesterday at AgriScot show that, without subsidies, only three out of 98 suckler herds in the 2005 "snapshot" survey made a profit. And those three, and others that almost broke even, used more unpaid family labour than average.

Some of that unpaid time, much of it in many cases, was spent observing cattle and simply being aware of what they were doing, part of what is known as stocksmanship.

But if costed at £11.18 an hour - as it will be in a comprehensive survey on farm family labour soon to be published jointly by the UK's three red meat promotion organisations - that wipes out any attempt at profit.

The statistics were revealed by QMS senior business analyst Stuart Ashworth at Ingliston yesterday as several thousand farmers kicked tyres in the machinery hall, watched dairy cattle being judged or heard the worst at several business seminars at Scotland's premier winter event.

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