The FOCUS economic benchmark tool related to the full production costs of beef has been developed by the Belgian farmers organisation Boerenbond. It allows the farmer to obtain a dynamic view on key figures for the management of the farm.

Each year the revenues and the costs of the different types of beef farms are collected. Different benchmarks are created for farms with suckling cows and beef finisher farms. Some farms with suckling cows are finishing the bulls, others sell their bull calves at the age of 3 weeks. The selling and purchase prices of the animals as well as the coupled CAP premia are collected. The cost items that are distiinguished are costs for: feed ( concentrates and roughage), veterinarians and medicines, energy, fertility and breeding, straw, manure management and other costs. Fixed costs are related to depreciation and interests on building and equipment and other costs.The full cost iof production s yearly calculated by the FOCUS -bookkeeping system of Boerenbond for each farm. All the figures of each farm are benchmarked with the group of beef cattle farmers (125 farms). The results are discussed with a consultant individually or in a small group of beef farmers(8 persons).

The major challenge was the following. Many beef farmers have no idea about the exact profitibility of the beef production on their farms. A lot of farmers have also dairy cows or arable land on the farm, so it is not easy to know exactly the result of the beef profitability on the farm.

The main benefit of the system is that the beef cattle farmers can compare the economic results on their farms . Also a lot of technical results can be benchmarked . The average daily growth is one of the most important factors on profitibility. The differences between the economic results of  the farms are enormous. This information can be important for banks to decide to grant loans and assist them in their investigations.

The main bottleneck for this type of practice is that beef cattle farmers do not like administration. A key success factor is however that, when they can discuss the results with their colleagues in a small group, they see that they can learn a lot from each other.

Benchmarking of costs and prices is important. Beef cattle farmers do not have time to follow the different markets.(beef prices, concentrates,…). To obtain results for each trimester would be even more interesting. 

For more information about the FOCUS bookkeeping system please consult:

Author: Dirk Audenaert - Boerenbond