Beef: Cost of production and performance

This section contains costings and performance results from AHDB benchmarking activities (at home and abroad) that allows farmers to compare their performance (technical and financial) with both themselves (year on year) and with others with similar production systems or those competing in the same market.

The information in this section provides technical and financial data for beef suckler herds, beef stores and beef finishers.

This information includes a number of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which are a measurable value that indicates whether a business is achieving its key goals. KPIs allow a business to focus its attention on what parameters matter most for success, and provide an analytical basis for decision making and improvement. A robust KPI provides a direct indication of business efficiency, sustainability, and profitability, the elements critical for success.

International comparisons of production costs and physical performance provide a snapshot of UK performance against other countries we compete with in a global market.

Download 'Is Less More, it could be' article (pdf)

Producing more from the same inputs, or the same from less, is key to improving productivity. However, also taking a completely fresh look at your farming business by working from the bottom up could produce surprising positive results to your profitability. This includes identifying whether each addition or change is cost effective and not just an additional burden for no return. 

Download 'New Year, new business plan' article (pdf)

Take a holistic look at your business. Attention to detail can lead to significant gains.

Financial KPIs

Financial KPIs show if your business is profitable, and are the most important as they are linked to all other KPIs as they all have costs associated with them. Financial KPIs can be a measure of how much it costs to produce each kg of beef you produce on farm.

Technical performance

Technical performance also provides KPIs that impact on your business.

Each farm must budget and plan to optimise their financial and technical performance for their own circumstances and resources.


Fertility includes measures such as calves weaned per cow to bull. The measures provide a straightforward indicator of the business viability as, without fertility, there would be no viable business. However, it is possible to maximise fertility at the cost of profitability, so fertility should always be compared to your financial KPIs. 


Health and welfare KPIs can be a measure of how much medicine is required to produce each kg of beef, or the percentage of mortality. Medicine usage is a good indicator of the effectiveness of health and welfare across your enterprise. A high use tends to indicate issues with diseases and welfare.


The key to measuring yield KPIs is weighing stock. There are key points that lend themselves to gathering weight data more than others. The usual measures are daily liveweight gain (DLWG) but can include kgs per hectare that measures the efficient use of the forage available, or kgs of weaned calf per cow to bull that measures the efficiency of the total cow herd.

You can use one of AHDB's benchmarking tools - Farm Business Review and Farmbench.

These can be found under the Tools section of the AHDB website.

AHDB Farm Business Review

AHDB Farmbench