Dairy farm incomes rose last year, but debt levels remained high on many farms.
Dairy farm incomes rose by 9% last year, with milder winter and summer conditions contributing positively to incomes.
Figures from the Teagasc National Farm Survey 2019 show that the average income was €66,570, with over half of farmers reporting an income of over €50,000 and 20% earning more than €100,000.
They said that an average herd of 80 cows spent €36,521 on concentrates last year, which marked a 14% reduction on 2018 levels.
“Fertiliser expenditure increased in 2019, up 4% to €14,400 on average. This was due to lower levels of usage being more than offset by higher prices,” Teagasc reported.
“Likewise, machinery hire expenditure, which relates to contracting charges, also increased, up 3% to €11,444.
“Other livestock and veterinary costs remained stable on average, accounting for €10,759 on the average dairy herd.”
Some 42% of dairy farms are between 50 and 100 hectares, with 10% of farms above 100 hectares.
The highest proportion of dairy farms are in the south of the country. Unpaid family labour was documented by Teagasc and found that it was lowest in northern and western regions at €31,853.
The same unpaid labour unit in eastern and midland regions was worth €68,709, which may be due to a higher workload for bigger herds.
Average herd size has increased from 64 cows in 2010 to 80 cows in 2019. Overall, the stocking rate has risen from 1.9LU/ha in 2010 to 2.09LU/ha.