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A mixed outlook for livestock gross margins in the new year

22/03/2024

In January 2024, the livestock sector's gross margins showed strongly varying trends. For dairy farms, the monthly gross margin declined by over 35% since January last year and was 4% above the long-term average. The monthly gross margin for laying hens decreased by 25% compared to January 2023, despite an increase from the last quarter of the previous year. The broiler chicken sector experienced a nearly 7% drop compared to the last quarter of 2023 but maintained a relatively high gross margin, partly due to decreasing feed prices. Fattening pigs saw a decrease from the peak in September, yet the gross margin was still 16,700 euros higher than a year earlier. Sow farms had a strong start to the year, with a gross margin that was 44,600 euros higher than in January 2023.

Dairy Cattle

In January 2024, the monthly gross margin for standardised dairy farms reached 21,700 euros, representing a decline of 35% compared to January last year. Milk prices recovered from November and December to above the ten-year average, despite initially dropping from nearly 60 euros per 100 kg in January to about 40 euros in September and October 2023. The allocated costs were 11% lower in January 2024 than in January 2023, which means that despite the decline in milk price over 2023, the gross margin still ended up 4% above the ten-year average for January.

Laying Hens

For laying hens, the monthly gross margin in January 2024 was approximately 86,400 euros per farm, a 25% decrease compared to January 2023. This drop reflects a significant decrease in egg prices since May 2023. Despite this decline, the gross margin was considerably higher than in the last quarter of the previous year, making the gross margin for laying hens relatively resilient despite market volatility.

Broiler Chickens

The monthly gross margin for broiler chickens was over 46,000 euros per farm in January 2024, a nearly 7% decrease compared to the last quarter of 2023. Despite this recent decrease, the sector maintains a relatively high gross margin, largely due to a decrease of about 20% in feed prices. This cost saving has helped compensate for the slight decrease in broiler chicken output prices.

Fattening Pigs

In January 2024, the monthly gross margin for fattening pigs was 18,600 euros per farm, showing a significant improvement compared to the year before. This positive development is mainly attributed to a 22% increase in output prices and a more than 18% decrease in feed costs compared to the beginning of 2023. The rolling annual gross margin for fattening pigs showed an upward trend and was 72,900 euros above the long-term average in January 2024.

Sows

The sow farming sector had an exceptionally strong start to 2024, with a monthly gross margin of 115,500 euros per sow farm in January. This represents an increase of 44,600 euros compared to January 2023, primarily due to 15% higher revenues from the sale of piglets and a decrease of 18% in feed costs. After several challenging years, the sector achieved exceptionally high gross margins in 2023, with the monthly gross margin from February to August exceeding 100,000 euros. The rolling annual gross margin for sows significantly surpasses the long-term average.

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