Beef: cost of production benchmarks

The following from the AHDB benchmarking programmes gives technical and financial results for various beef production systems

The information shows top, average and bottom performing farms, with the farms in each percentile identified by ranking on full economic net margin. 

Financial KPIs are the most important as they are linked to all other KPIs. The cost of producing a kg of beef is key to comparing any farm's ability to compete with another farm.

Techinical KPIs enable farms to look at the detail behind financial achievement.

Each farm must budget and plan for what is best for their own circumstances, resources and the market/s they are aiming for.

It is very important to decide on your production system and what stage your animals are growing. The expected DLWG for beef growing (stores) stage will be lower than for the beef finishing stages. Please note that the figures given below are for the overall performance of animals in these systems and can be a combination of growing and finishing, that is why it is very important to set your own targets and regularly weigh your cattle to monitor their progress.

KPIs - if you wish to calculate your own KPIs you can use one of AHDB's benchmarking tools - KPI Express and Farmbench.

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

KPI Express https://kpiexpress.ahdb.org.uk/Home/Index

Farmbench https://ahdb.org.uk/farmbench


Stores (Stocktake 2016)

(£ per head output)  (£ per lwt kg output)
Financial Performance (£ per head output) Bottom Third Average Top Third Bottom Third Average Top Third
Number of herds in sample 15 45 15 15 45 15
Average head of output 33 53 67 33 53 67
Cattle output 900.47 927.85 987.27 2.06 1.94 1.96
Other income 3.55 3.28 5.99 0.01 0.01 0.01
Gross Output 904.02 931.13 993.26 2.07 1.95 1.97
Purchase costs 666.98 593.67 558.60 1.52 1.24 1.11
Output less purchase costs 237.04 337.46 434.66 0.54 0.71 0.86
Variable Costs
Purchased feed including minerals 107.30 66.35 50.65 0.25 0.14 0.10
Home-grown feed 15.78 11.53 8.17 0.04 0.02 0.02
Purchased forage 1.61 9.69 19.91 0.00 0.02 0.04
Home-grown forage (excludes contract) 13.38 18.51 19.25 0.03 0.04 0.04
Total feed and forage 138.06 106.07 97.98 0.32 0.22 0.19
Vet and medicine 12.12 9.88 9.94 0.03 0.02 0.02
Bedding 22.60 29.14 34.53 0.05 0.06 0.07
Other livestock expenses 26.89 22.02 24.47 0.06 0.05 0.05
Total variable costs 199.66 167.11 166.92 0.46 0.35 0.33
Gross Margin 37.38 170.35 267.74 0.09 0.36 0.53
Fixed Costs
Labour - paid 15.93 21.38 24.53 0.04 0.04 0.05
Machinery repairs and spares 24.44 14.02 9.01 0.06 0.03 0.02
Contracting 12.77 12.73 13.04 0.03 0.03 0.03
Electricity 3.31 1.78 1.53 0.01 0.00 0.00
Fuel 22.60 14.10 11.23 0.05 0.03 0.02
Property maintenance and water 11.50 14.22 11.21 0.03 0.03 0.02
Land Rent (Actual) 20.87 24.03 19.85 0.05 0.05 0.04
Overheads 47.03 33.07 23.86 0.11 0.07 0.05
Cash Only fixed costs 158.44 135.34 114.27 0.36 0.28 0.23
Cash Only Cost of Production 1025.08 896.12 839.78 2.34 1.88 1.66
Cash Only Net Margin -121.06 35.01 153.47 -0.28 0.07 0.30
Depreciation 84.48 49.95 44.04 0.19 0.10 0.09
Finance costs (Imputed) 22.53 18.91 20.32 0.05 0.04 0.04
Labour - unpaid (Imputed) 54.76 35.38 27.29 0.13 0.07 0.05
Land Rent (Imputed) 16.40 18.13 19.85 0.04 0.04 0.04
Non-Cash fixed costs 178.17 122.36 111.50 0.41 0.26 0.22
Full Investment fixed costs 336.61 257.70 225.77 0.77 0.54 0.45
Full Investment Cost of Production (inc purchase costs) 1203.25 1018.48 951.28 2.75 2.13 1.89
Full Investment Net Margin -299.23 -87.35 41.97 -0.68 -0.18 0.08
Physical Performance
Mortality % 0.6 0.3 0.2
Average age at start (days) 229 220 210
Average age at sale (days) 462 465 500
Feeding period (days) 233 245 289
Average liveweight at start (kg) 299 287 278
Average liveweight at sale (kg) 438 477 505
Daily liveweight gain (kg per day) 0.6 0.8 0.8
Purchase value per head (£) 664 592 558
Return per head finished (£) 894 1098 1132
Return per head store (£) 901 914 979
Purchase price (£ per kg lwt)  2.24 2.08 2.04
Liveweight sale price all animals (£ per kg lwt) 2.07 1.97 1.97
Finished (%) 3 8 5
Store (%) 97 92 95
Output heifers (%) 38 47 46
Output steers (%) 40 44 54
Output bulls (%) 22 9 0
Total FW concentrate use (kg per head) 642 593 703
Total DM concentrate use (kg per head) 555 365 313
Average concentrate cost (£ per tonne) 185 153 126
Total FW forage (kg per head) 2954 2787 3062
Total DM forage (Kg per head) 826 875 850
Number of full grazing weeks 10 16 24
Stocking rate (LU per ha) 1.3 1.3 1.6
Inorganic nitrogen use (kg per ha) 59 52 63
Labour use - paid hours per head 1.7 2.0 2.2
Labour use - unpaid hours per head 6.0 3.6 2.7

Under 16 months (Stocktake 2016)

(£ per head output)  (£ per dwt kg output)
Financial Performance (£ per head output) Bottom Half Average Top Half Bottom Half Average Top Half
Number of herds in sample 9 18 9 9 18 9
Average head of output 48 57 67 48 57 67
Cattle output 1151.47 1171.00 1184.21 3.41 3.27 3.16
Other income 30.19 16.89 7.90 0.09 0.05 0.02
Gross Output 1181.67 1187.90 1192.11 3.50 3.32 3.19
Purchase costs 676.05 691.05 701.20 2.00 1.93 1.87
Output less purchase costs 505.62 496.84 490.91 1.50 1.39 1.31
Variable Costs
Purchased feed including minerals 200.63 189.03 181.19 0.59 0.53 0.48
Home-grown feed 182.13 85.41 20.01 0.54 0.24 0.05
Purchased forage 0.00 1.91 3.21 0.00 0.01 0.01
Home-grown forage (excludes contract) 15.92 14.03 12.76 0.05 0.04 0.03
Total feed and forage 398.67 290.39 217.17 1.18 0.81 0.58
Vet and medicine 18.57 17.47 16.72 0.06 0.05 0.04
Bedding 51.58 38.45 29.57 0.15 0.11 0.08
Other livestock expenses 42.93 37.64 34.06 0.13 0.11 0.09
Total variable costs 511.76 383.94 297.51 1.52 1.07 0.79
Gross Margin -6.14 112.91 193.40 -0.02 0.32 0.52
Fixed Costs
Labour - paid 61.04 56.00 52.59 0.18 0.16 0.14
Machinery repairs and spares 11.38 8.84 7.12 0.03 0.02 0.02
Contracting 9.70 7.94 6.76 0.03 0.02 0.02
Electricity 2.53 1.91 1.49 0.01 0.01 0.00
Fuel 16.33 12.48 9.88 0.05 0.03 0.03
Property maintenance and water 20.54 19.22 18.33 0.06 0.05 0.05
Lant Rent (Actual) 4.30 4.29 3.98 0.01 0.01 0.01
Overheads 28.43 29.65 30.47 0.08 0.08 0.08
Cash Only fixed costs 154.24 140.33 130.62 0.46 0.39 0.35
Cash Only Cost of Production 1342.05 1215.32 1129.33 3.98 3.39 3.02
Cash Only Net Margin -160.38 -27.42 62.78 -0.48 -0.08 0.17
Depreciation 40.48 45.59 49.04 0.12 0.13 0.13
Finance costs (Imputed) 20.43 18.42 17.07 0.06 0.05 0.05
Labour - unpaid (Imputed) 32.99 19.98 11.19 0.10 0.06 0.03
Land Rent (Imputed) 7.64 5.93 5.07 0.02 0.02 0.01
Non-Cash fixed costs 101.53 89.92 82.38 0.30 0.25 0.22
Full Investment fixed costs 255.78 230.25 213.00 0.76 0.64 0.57
Full Investment Cost of Production (inc purchase costs) 1443.58 1305.25 1211.71 4.28 3.65 3.24
Full Investment Net Margin -261.91 -117.35 -19.60 -0.78 -0.33 -0.05
Physical Performance
Mortality % 1.8 1.8 1.8
Average age at start (days) 223 228 232
Average age at sale (days) 440 436 432
Feeding period (days) 217 207 200
Average liveweight at start (kg) 334 329 327
Average liveweight at sale (kg) 614 624 631
Daily liveweight gain (kg per day) 1.3 1.5 1.6
Average carcase weight (kg) 337 358 374
Purchase value per head (£) 667 681 691
Return per head finished (£) 1151 1194 1227
Return per head store (£) n.a 917 917
Purchase price (£ per kg lwt)  1.98 2.04 2.09
Liveweight sale price all animals (£ per kg lwt) 1.88 1.88 1.88
Liveweight sale price: finished cattle (£ per kg lwt) 1.88 1.86 1.84
Deadweight sale price : finished cattle  (£ per kg dwt) 3.43 3.35 3.28
Finished (%) 100 92 86
Store (%) 0 8 14
Output heifers (%) 27 20 16
Output steers (%) 10 5 2
Output bulls (%) 62 74 82
Total FW concentrate use (kg per head) 2770 1919 1344
Total DM concentrate use (kg per head) 2035 1432 1025
Average concentrate cost (£ per tonne) 151 152 153
Total FW forage (kg per head) 938 1770 2333
Total DM forage (Kg per head) 289 524 684
Number of full grazing weeks 6 4 2
Stocking rate (LU per ha) 3.7 4.0 4.2
Inorganic nitrogen use (kg per ha) 112 111 110
Labour use - paid hours per head 6.3 4.7 3.6
Labour use - unpaid hours per head 3.1 1.8 0.9

Over 16 months (Stocktake 2016)

(£ per head output)  (£ per dwt kg output)
Financial Performance (£ per head output) Bottom Third Average Top Third Bottom Third Average Top Third
Number of herds in sample 23 71 23 23 71 23
Average head of output 57 126 77 57 126 77
Cattle output 1180.88 1117.83 1290.73 3.60 3.31 3.94
Other income 19.57 7.45 16.21 0.06 0.02 0.05
Gross Output 1200.45 1125.27 1306.94 3.66 3.34 3.99
Purchase costs 609.18 560.56 431.03 1.86 1.66 1.32
Output less purchase costs 591.28 564.71 875.91 1.80 1.67 2.67
Variable Costs
Purchased feed including minerals 126.12 129.83 76.15 0.38 0.38 0.23
Home-grown feed 105.26 33.74 32.98 0.32 0.10 0.10
Purchased forage 10.56 16.92 7.66 0.03 0.05 0.02
Home-grown forage (excludes contract) 35.60 27.45 53.39 0.11 0.08 0.16
Total feed and forage 277.54 207.94 170.19 0.85 0.62 0.52
Vet and medicine 19.59 9.85 13.32 0.06 0.03 0.04
Bedding 42.42 24.59 33.04 0.13 0.07 0.10
Other livestock expenses 36.63 40.48 33.05 0.11 0.12 0.10
Total variable costs 376.18 282.87 249.59 1.15 0.84 0.76
Gross Margin 215.10 281.84 626.32 0.66 0.84 1.91
Fixed Costs
Labour - paid 72.28 53.09 53.04 0.22 0.16 0.16
Machinery repairs and spares 27.30 22.72 31.86 0.08 0.07 0.10
Contracting 32.70 26.21 76.94 0.10 0.08 0.23
Electricity 2.79 3.24 3.58 0.01 0.01 0.01
Fuel 26.87 25.10 27.97 0.08 0.07 0.09
Property maintenance and water 26.25 14.48 24.76 0.08 0.04 0.08
Land Rent (Actual) 29.66 21.39 43.62 0.09 0.06 0.13
Overheads 53.72 29.78 32.63 0.16 0.09 0.10
Cash Only fixed costs 271.57 196.00 294.40 0.83 0.58 0.90
Cash Only Cost of Production 1256.93 1039.44 975.02 3.83 3.08 2.98
Cash Only Net Margin -56.47 85.84 331.92 -0.17 0.25 1.01
Depreciation 120.23 58.70 64.75 0.37 0.17 0.20
Finance costs (Imputed) 32.27 25.16 38.79 0.10 0.07 0.12
Labour - unpaid (Imputed) 59.70 34.61 49.45 0.18 0.10 0.15
Land Rent (Imputed) 69.21 20.55 37.16 0.21 0.06 0.11
Non-Cash fixed costs 281.41 139.03 190.15 0.86 0.41 0.58
Full Investment fixed costs 552.98 335.03 484.55 1.68 0.99 1.48
Full Investment Cost of Production (inc purchase costs) 1538.33 1178.47 1165.17 4.69 3.49 3.56
Full Investment Net Margin -337.88 -53.19 141.77 -1.03 -0.16 0.43
Physical Performance
Mortality % 0.9 1.8 2.2
Average age at start (days) 225 384 150
Average age at sale (days) 656 710 649
Feeding period (days) 432 326 499
Average liveweight at start (kg) 258 320 188
Average liveweight at sale (kg) 601 624 603
Daily liveweight gain (kg per day) 0.8 1.0 0.8
Average carcase weight (kg) 328 337 328
Purchase value per head (£) 602 551 422
Return per head finished (£) 1182 1118 1290
Return per head store (£) 1144 1120 1334
Purchase price (£ per kg lwt)  2.60 1.96 2.39
Liveweight sale price all animals (£ per kg lwt) 1.97 1.80 2.15
Liveweight sale price: finished cattle (£ per kg lwt) 1.95 1.80 2.14
Deadweight sale price : finished cattle  (£ per kg dwt) 3.61 3.33 3.96
Finished (%) 97 98 98
Store (%) 3 2 2
Output heifers (%) 33 34 26
Output steers (%) 53 61 71
Output bulls (%) 13 5 3
Total FW concentrate use (kg per head) 1571 2112 674
Total DM concentrate use (kg per head) 1052 1282 545
Average concentrate cost (£ per tonne) 150 97 157
Total FW forage (kg per head) 5618 3360 6381
Total DM forage (Kg per head) 1877 1118 1868
Number of full grazing weeks 24 23 26
Stocking rate (LU per ha) 1.3 1.6 1.6
Inorganic nitrogen use (kg per ha) 51 51 26
Labour use - paid hours per head 7.1 4.6 5.5
Labour use - unpaid hours per head 6.2 3.5 5.1

16 - 24 months (Stocktake 2016)

(£ per head output)  (£ per dwt kg output)
Financial Performance (£ per head output) Bottom Half Average Top Half Bottom Half Average Top Half
Number of herds in sample 24 49 25 24 49 25
Average head of output 63 77 91 63 77 91
Cattle output 1166.06 1190.23 1206.49 3.53 3.60 3.65
Other income 17.10 16.94 16.97 0.05 0.05 0.05
Gross Output 1183.17 1207.17 1223.46 3.58 3.65 3.70
Purchase costs 628.01 535.60 477.20 1.90 1.62 1.44
Output less purchase costs 555.16 671.57 746.26 1.68 2.03 2.26
Variable Costs
Purchased feed including minerals 147.77 119.94 101.08 0.45 0.36 0.31
Home-grown feed 89.97 60.60 43.51 0.27 0.18 0.13
Purchased forage 9.65 9.31 8.98 0.03 0.03 0.03
Home-grown forage (excludes contract) 35.85 42.98 47.85 0.11 0.13 0.14
Total feed and forage 283.23 232.84 201.41 0.86 0.70 0.61
Vet and medicine 18.66 15.62 13.48 0.06 0.05 0.04
Bedding 40.82 36.51 33.57 0.12 0.11 0.10
Other livestock expenses 37.47 32.75 29.74 0.11 0.10 0.09
Total variable costs 380.18 317.71 278.20 1.15 0.96 0.84
Gross Margin 174.98 353.85 468.05 0.53 1.07 1.42
Fixed Costs
Labour - paid 49.58 46.81 44.50 0.15 0.14 0.13
Machinery repairs and spares 21.84 23.63 24.68 0.07 0.07 0.07
Contracting 24.91 47.83 63.05 0.08 0.14 0.19
Electricity 3.07 3.03 3.10 0.01 0.01 0.01
Fuel 26.55 25.34 24.67 0.08 0.08 0.07
Property maintenance and water 20.49 23.89 26.21 0.06 0.07 0.08
Land Rent (Actual) 33.89 31.02 30.74 0.10 0.09 0.09
Overheads 44.29 37.90 33.60 0.13 0.11 0.10
Cash Only fixed costs 224.62 239.45 250.56 0.68 0.72 0.76
Cash Only Cost of Production 1232.80 1092.77 1005.96 3.73 3.31 3.05
Cash Only Net Margin -49.64 114.40 217.50 -0.15 0.35 0.66
Depreciation 89.91 69.35 56.78 0.27 0.21 0.17
Finance costs (Imputed) 27.98 30.35 32.02 0.08 0.09 0.10
Labour - unpaid (Imputed) 57.26 54.48 53.58 0.17 0.16 0.16
Land Rent (Imputed) 36.72 27.51 22.26 0.11 0.08 0.07
Non-Cash fixed costs 211.87 181.69 164.64 0.64 0.55 0.50
Full Investment fixed costs 436.49 421.14 415.20 1.32 1.27 1.26
Full Investment Cost of Production (inc purchase costs) 1444.67 1274.46 1170.60 4.37 3.86 3.54
Full Investment Net Margin -261.51 -67.29 52.86 -0.79 -0.20 0.16
Physical Performance
Mortality % 1.0 1.6 2.1
Average age at start (days) 218 188 169
Average age at sale (days) 610 607 603
Feeding period (days) 392 419 434
Average liveweight at start (kg) 267 234 214
Average liveweight at sale (kg) 603 607 609
Daily liveweight gain (kg per day) 0.9 0.9 0.9
Average carcase weight (kg) 331 331 330
Purchase value per head (£) 621 527 468
Return per head finished (£) 1182 1198 1209
Return per head store (£) 865 961 1108
Purchase price (£ per kg lwt)  2.61 2.47 2.37
Liveweight sale price all animals (£ per kg lwt) 1.94 1.97 1.99
Liveweight sale price: finished cattle (£ per kg lwt) 1.95 1.97 1.98
Deadweight sale price : finished cattle  (£ per kg dwt) 3.58 3.63 3.66
Finished (%) 95 97 98
Store (%) 5 3 2
Output heifers (%) 35 34 34
Output steers (%) 52 55 56
Output bulls (%) 13 11 10
Total FW concentrate use (kg per head) 1692 1301 1058
Total DM concentrate use (kg per head) 1129 928 810
Average concentrate cost (£ per tonne) 146 145 143
Total FW forage (kg per head) 5474 5060 5034
Total DM forage (Kg per head) 1812 1576 1508
Number of full grazing weeks 19 19 18
Stocking rate (LU per ha) 1.5 1.9 2.2
Inorganic nitrogen use (kg per ha) 61 65 67
Labour use - paid hours per head 4.8 4.7 4.5
Labour use - unpaid hours per head 5.8 5.6 5.6

24 months and older (Stocktake 2016)

(£ per head output)  (£ per dwt kg output)
Financial Performance (£ per head output) Bottom Half Average Top Half Bottom Half Average Top Half
Number of herds in sample 11 22 11 11 22 11
Average head of output 59 235 410 59 235 410
Cattle output 1177.83 1064.60 1048.19 3.56 3.11 3.05
Other income 3.37 0.43 0.00 0.01 0.00 0.00
Gross Output 1181.20 1065.02 1048.19 3.57 3.11 3.05
Purchase costs 565.10 577.69 579.52 1.71 1.69 1.69
Output less purchase costs 616.10 487.33 468.68 1.86 1.42 1.36
Variable Costs
Purchased feed including minerals 54.37 137.29 149.30 0.16 0.40 0.43
Home-grown feed 28.23 13.02 10.82 0.09 0.04 0.03
Purchased forage 3.35 22.55 25.34 0.01 0.07 0.07
Home-grown forage (excludes contract) 100.99 15.99 3.68 0.31 0.05 0.01
Total feed and forage 186.93 188.85 189.13 0.57 0.55 0.55
Vet and medicine 14.73 5.68 4.37 0.04 0.02 0.01
Bedding 37.30 15.89 12.79 0.11 0.05 0.04
Other livestock expenses 34.19 46.11 47.84 0.10 0.13 0.14
Total variable costs 273.16 256.54 254.13 0.83 0.75 0.74
Gross Margin 342.94 230.79 214.55 1.04 0.67 0.62
Fixed Costs
Labour - paid 80.96 57.90 54.56 0.24 0.17 0.16
Machinery repairs and spares 23.29 22.10 21.93 0.07 0.06 0.06
Contracting 31.22 10.31 7.28 0.09 0.03 0.02
Electricity 2.12 3.35 3.53 0.01 0.01 0.01
Fuel 25.31 24.86 24.80 0.08 0.07 0.07
Property maintenance and water 33.57 7.55 3.78 0.10 0.02 0.01
Land Rent (Actual) 42.63 7.75 3.37 0.13 0.02 0.01
Overheads 63.43 23.87 18.14 0.19 0.07 0.05
Cash Only fixed costs 302.53 157.70 137.38 0.91 0.46 0.40
Cash Only Cost of Production 1140.79 991.92 971.03 3.45 2.90 2.82
Cash Only Net Margin 40.41 73.10 77.17 0.12 0.21 0.22
Depreciation 120.94 50.43 40.22 0.37 0.15 0.12
Finance costs (Imputed) 34.16 21.31 19.45 0.10 0.06 0.06
Labour - unpaid (Imputed) 66.31 19.63 12.87 0.20 0.06 0.04
Land Rent (Imputed) 94.89 20.96 9.58 0.29 0.06 0.03
Non-Cash fixed costs 316.30 112.33 82.12 0.96 0.33 0.24
Full Investment fixed costs 618.83 270.03 219.50 1.87 0.79 0.64
Full Investment Cost of Production (inc purchase costs) 1457.09 1104.26 1053.15 4.41 3.23 3.06
Full Investment Net Margin -275.89 -39.23 -4.95 -0.83 -0.11 -0.01
Physical Performance
Mortality % 1.7 1.9 2.0
Average age at start (days) 277 528 564
Average age at sale (days) 778 787 788
Feeding period (days) 501 259 224
Average liveweight at start (kg) 270 383 399
Average liveweight at sale (kg) 612 636 640
Daily liveweight gain (kg per day) 0.7 1.1 1.2
Average carcase weight (kg) 331 342 344
Purchase value per head (£) 557 567 568
Return per head finished (£) 1164 1060 1046
Return per head store (£) 1352 1449 1750
Purchase price (£ per kg lwt)  2.44 1.58 1.46
Liveweight sale price all animals (£ per kg lwt) 1.92 1.68 1.65
Liveweight sale price: finished cattle (£ per kg lwt) 1.89 1.67 1.64
Deadweight sale price : finished cattle  (£ per kg dwt) 3.52 3.11 3.06
Finished (%) 93 99 100
Store (%) 7 1 0
Output heifers (%) 41 34 33
Output steers (%) 59 66 67
Output bulls (%) 0 0 0
Total FW concentrate use (kg per head) 794 2699 2975
Total DM concentrate use (kg per head) 462 1535 1690
Average concentrate cost (£ per tonne) 151 81 78
Total FW forage (kg per head) 3855 2004 1736
Total DM forage (Kg per head) 1151 743 684
Number of full grazing weeks 35 32 28
Stocking rate (LU per ha) 1.1 1.1 1.2
Inorganic nitrogen use (kg per ha) 25 21 16
Labour use - paid hours per head 8.2 4.6 4.1
Labour use - unpaid hours per head 7.1 1.9 1.1
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