The average cattle farm operator worked on-farm for 1,513 hours over the year (an average of 29 hours per week) in 2018.
That is according to findings published by Teagasc as part of its National Farm Survey 2018 Sustainability Report, which was released on Tuesday (June 23rd).
Teagasc economists noted that 41% of cattle farmers also work off-farm, adding that farm work hours are not necessarily indicative of overall work-life balance.
Output per hectare and average income
The average output per hectare for cattle farms was €1,312, and the average gross margin per hectare was €483, according to the report.
Only 18% of all cattle farms in the Teagasc NFS were defined as “economically viable”. Overall, 40% of all cattle farms were considered vulnerable (non-viable farm business with no off-farm employment).
Across all cattle farms, the average income per labour unit was €13,344 in 2018. Some “large earners” had a mean income per labour unit of €25,926, compared with €10,428 and €3,255 for the middle and bottom cohorts of cattle farms, the state agency added.
Median income per farm across the groups was €20,193, €7,365, and €3,300, respectively.
Market-based output accounted for 62% of gross output across all cattle farms, with the remaining 38% accounted for by direct payment receipts, economists found.
Isolation and high-age profile
Overall, 24% of cattle farm operators were classified as being at risk of isolation; i.e. where the farmer lives alone. “This was especially prevalent among farms with lower profitability, where 32% of farmers in the bottom third live alone.”
Additionally, 38% of cattle farms were classified as having a high-age profile.
The average cattle farm emitted 4.5 tonnes of CO2 equivalents of agricultural GHG emissions per hectare in 2018.
Emissions per hectare were higher for the more profitable cattle farms, which also tended to be stocked at a higher intensity, the report stated.