Survey gives value to unpaid family labour

UK - The Meat and Livestock Commission, QMS, HCC and EBLEX have carried out a survey of beef and sheep farmers to help put a cost on unpaid family labour.
calendar icon 22 November 2006
clock icon 3 minute read

In the first study of its kind, unpaid family labour has been calculated at £11.18 per hour (not including National Insurance or pension provisions).

In February 2006, MLC hosted a meeting of industry representatives, which included the NFU, this was to discuss the scope for publishing future beef and sheep production costs on a standardised basis.

There was also recognition of a need for all parts in the supply chain to better understand the true costs of producing a kilogram of beef or lamb.

Key findings

Including the family labour, the average number of people working on beef and sheep enterprises was two. Respondents from smaller farms tend to rely more on family labour compared to the larger farms.

Of their 60-hour average working week, the study shows beef and sheep farmers devote an average of 44 hours to these enterprises.

The study also shows nearly 60% of farmers have spouses working in the business, with over 30% involving sons or daughters, 2% parents and 24% other family members.

While spouses are generally involved in the beef and sheep enterprises for less time than the farmers themselves – 15 hours/week on average – a higher proportion of their input involves business management.

Children, parents and other family members contribute averages of 20, 28 and 12 hours/week respectively.

The level of ability that farmers have in various skills shown in this survey is subjective. But it does highlight that general business management skills are the main weakness for most of the respondents, as well as other skills which are less commonly used, such as management of staff and training.

The qualifications recorded from this survey show a relatively high level of ability and are very similar to the findings from the dairy industry. Computer literacy levels are particularly encouraging.

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