How much farm land to make a profit

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Last seen: 03/08/2018 - 21:05
Joined: 04/28/2014 - 21:49

How much farm land to make a profit

Hi

I've been reading almost all of the threads here about starting up a hobby farm.

I would love to set up a hobby farm, but I need to know if I can afford a large enough land holding to replace the income I would be giving up by selling my city home and buying a rural property.

Initially, I'm trying to find out what size farm is required to make a profit. One of the threads on this topic had an answer that 40hectares would not be able to make $20K. Of course, I understand that it is hard to give an accurate answer, but I wonder if this approximation is fairly standard? How much land would you need to make $30 or $40K?

Also, there seem to be many new hobby farmers considering cattle. I am surprised at this, as I thought that sheep would be easier to handle (being smaller)?? Is raising cattle more profitable than raising sheep for meat (not wool)?

Last seen: 09/17/2019 - 18:07
Joined: 11/23/2011 - 09:38

Hi Teesh,

It is difficult to answer this question as there are so many factors involved in setting up a farm.  If you wish to make an income of 30-40,000 it would be more like a business and not a hobby farm and you would need to register for an ABN - Australian Business Number and a PIC - Property Identification Code if you intend to breed or graze livestock and register for GST. Of course, first of all you will need to decide what you want to do. What do you have in mind to do and what experience do you have? There is a wealth of information on this website which might prove useful to you. It may help to read some of it to give you some ideas to go on with.

To make an income on a smaller holding of less than 50 Hectares you would need to be doing something which will bring a larger profit than just ordinary cattle or sheep. You would probably need to be running a stud of some sort. The initial outlay for stock can be steep when buying stud animals and even though you can sell the registered offspring for a good profit, not all of them will be of what is considered stud quality and will only be able to be sold as ordinary breeders or go to the meat market. I have been breeding livestock, cattle and cashmere goats initially, for many years and began breeding Boer goats in 1997. It took me five years to recoup my initial investment and to begin to make a profit. There are lots of expenses involved in running livestock. Feed supplements and hay if the pasture is not up to scratch due to drought and so on, vet fees, medications, NLIS tags, ID tags and applicators, Way Bill/vendor declaration books for when you transport stock, drenches, transport costs of stock to sales, abbatoires or shows etc.

To cut a long story short, I believe that you should always buy as much land as you can, making sure there is ample water available. I always ran some stud animals for the big returns and some ordinary cattle and goats as high volume sales. This way you don't put all your eggs in one basket.

Check the land to make sure there have never been old sheep or cattle dips on it in the past, as they used to use arsenic in the dips years ago and also used a lot of DDT. These stay in the soil.

Don't let all of the above put you off as there is nothing as satisfying and fulfulling as looking out in the paddock, as I did this morning, at beautiful sleek healthy animals and knowing that all your work has been worth it. I would never move back to the city as I love it here. I hope, that you will fulfill your dream as I have, but remember, you will only get out of it,what you put into it and that will entail a lot of hard work and a steep learning curve.

kind regards,

Barb  

Last seen: 03/08/2018 - 21:05
Joined: 04/28/2014 - 21:49

Hi Barb

Thank you so much for your prompt reply. Of course, as with all businesses, they take time to build up. My partner intends to retain to his paid work, so it is only my income we were wanting to replace with a hobby farm, which is about $30k to $40k.

I have now read all the posts on new hobby farmers, including some about macadamia farming!

I am in South Australia and we would like to buy a farm in an average rainfall area of 500mm, probably Nairne way. We will defnitely buy the biggest we can afford, but it will probably be less than 100 acres--maybe 50 or 60 on the initial glance at land prices.. And I will get a soil test first, and look at water storage/collection facilities and what weeds/native plants exist on the property. After that, I have absolutely no idea what to do!

I would like to raise Dorper sheep, and read a thread on cell grazing--but I am so inexperienced, and have no farmer acquaintances--I think I would be worried that I would not know when they had eaten sufficient-but-not-too-much of existing vegetation/if they were hungry/when they were ready to go to market, and how to get them there!

Beyond this fantastic website, I imagine a book such as Farming in a Small Way is a good place to start---any other ideas for someone with absolutely no idea at all, and no experts in the family?

Thanks again for your reply, Barb, much appreciated.

Last seen: 09/17/2019 - 18:07
Joined: 11/23/2011 - 09:38

Hi Teesh,

Cell grazing is the way to go if you have enough land. Divide your pasture into 5 - 10 acre lots and rotate them around every 2-3 weeks. My advice is don't let them eat the pasture lower than two inches (5-6 centimetres) because when the sun can get to the soil it dries right out. Also when the pasture is lower than that, the grass begins to shed roots and takes much longer to recover than it does when the grass is longer. If you are buying a smaller plot of less than 100 acres then you will need to have an enterprise with high returns- as already suggested. A couple of things would be strawberries, raspberries, hydroponic lettuce or as suggested with animals, stud animals. You need to have a look around and find out where the market openings are. for example, years ago in this district, someone said there was a shortage of pumpkins, so everyone started growing them. The result was a huge glut of them and most of them were sold for almost nothing to graziers for stock feed. Another thing to consider is the cost of transport for your finished products whether fruit and vegetables or livestock- distance from markets etc.

Personally, when I started out, I read every thing I could get my hands on and when I actually bought the property eventually with my husband, we introduced ourselves to our neighbours - held a Barby and invited all the neighbours. Queenslanders are really friendly and all of them said if ever you need to know something just let us know. Country people don't like to live in your pocket, so to speak, but over the years, we helped them and they helped us (fire and flood etc.) and whenever we needed to know who the best local carriers were or ploughing contractors were, we asked them. They always know who is reliable and who will rip you off.

hope some of this is helpful.

Cheers,

Barb

Last seen: 03/09/2019 - 21:43
Joined: 10/07/2017 - 02:38
So...what did you do ? how much land ? and have you managed to get your 40k after costs ?

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