• Richard Avery

Why you can scale a dairy farm but not a sheep farm

Scaling food production works in some areas because it can be heavily systematised. Lettuce production is complex, yet simple enough to be streamlined through repetitive systems. Some systems within food production have not been able to do this as well. Take livestock production, particularly wool production. The margins in wool are competitive with other land uses of broadacre style farming in many parts of Australia and New Zealand. This goes on to impact lamb production as well.

What is important here is to look at the systems, not just the bottom lines.

Dairy farming has less of a scaling problem than sheep farming. Dairy farming, much like growing lettuces, has shown that systematising the operations has enormous benefits in efficiency, which flows on to enable scaling. Sheep farming has a scaling problem. $10 million-dollar turnover sheep farms are all but unheard of. But lettuce, dairy farms, corn farms, piggeries, and chicken production has found a way to get around this problem. Activists call it factory farming.

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