SLU news

Organic beef cattle production more profitable than conventional

Published: 17 January 2013

Organic beef cattle production is more profitable than conventional with the current system for compensation from the EU. Pernilla Salevid and Karl-Ivar Kumm from the Department of Animal Environment and Health, SLU, have shown this through profitability calculations of different production models for rearing calves.

The number of dairy cows decreases in Sweden and thus the number of dairy breed calves available for meat production also decreases. This has led to a significant increase in consumption of imported meat, and is counteracting with the goal of keeping our landscape open.

Viability was examined in beef calf production
To keep landscapes open, we need grazing animals and thus the profitability in beef cattle production becomes vitally important. Researchers have defined a number of models in organic and conventional beef cattle production in different parts of Sweden, with 100 or 200 cows, heavy or light meat breeds and different calving dates and diets.

Large organic herds with heavy meat breeds are the most profitable
The most profitable model is organic production with larger herds and heavy meat breeds. The reason this model is the most profitable is the environmental subsidies for organic farming and the need for a larger area of organic production compared with conventional and for heavy breeds compared to light ones. Thus, the model provides higher environmental, compensatory and farm subsidies per animal.

Building costs and labour requirement per cow will be lower if you have more cows in the herd. If the subsidy system changed so that, for example, it will be lower subsidies per area, the prerequisite for profitability will be different.