A new way to study cow profitability?

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cypressfarms

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If at anytime while reading this post, you the reader say "Cypress you dummy, we've been doing that all along", then sorry for wasting your time.

In the never ending quest to squeeze any and everything to help with profitablility, I had the following simple observation:

In the past, I've only collected data and studied it on weaning weight of calves (205 weights, gain per day, etc.), without regard to the size of the actual cow that raised the calf. When I started to look more closely, one could break up my herds into three differing size cows: small, medium and large. For me small is 800-900, medium is the 900-1100 range, and large is 1100 to 1300. I don't really have anything over 1300. Well that 1300 pound cow is almost 40% more in weight than the 800 pound cow. Does the 1300 pound cow wean off 40% more calf, I thought to myself???

After looking at all of my records for calf weaning weights, I only really have detailed data from 2005. Since 2005 though, I can't really say that my "big" cows consistently wean bigger calves; at least not to the point of significance.

This has given me a whole new method of looking at a cow. As in what percentage of old belle does she wean off in calf every year. When I started to look at percentages, I was surprised to find that the more efficient and (one could argue more profitable) calf makers are smaller cows.

This is, ofcourse biased by the area of the country that I live. I don't wean heavy calves like our northern friends do. But when looking at a cattle operation from a standpoint of percentage of pounds weaned, it boggles the mind somewhat...

Anyone else thought of this, or am I the slow lightbulb that came on too late???
 

Caustic Burno

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cypressfarms":k4jrz9b6 said:
If at anytime while reading this post, you the reader say "Cypress you dummy, we've been doing that all along", then sorry for wasting your time.

In the never ending quest to squeeze any and everything to help with profitablility, I had the following simple observation:

In the past, I've only collected data and studied it on weaning weight of calves (205 weights, gain per day, etc.), without regard to the size of the actual cow that raised the calf. When I started to look more closely, one could break up my herds into three differing size cows: small, medium and large. For me small is 800-900, medium is the 900-1100 range, and large is 1100 to 1300. I don't really have anything over 1300. Well that 1300 pound cow is almost 40% more in weight than the 800 pound cow. Does the 1300 pound cow wean off 40% more calf, I thought to myself???

After looking at all of my records for calf weaning weights, I only really have detailed data from 2005. Since 2005 though, I can't really say that my "big" cows consistently wean bigger calves; at least not to the point of significance.

This has given me a whole new method of looking at a cow. As in what percentage of old belle does she wean off in calf every year. When I started to look at percentages, I was surprised to find that the more efficient and (one could argue more profitable) calf makers are smaller cows.

This is, ofcourse biased by the area of the country that I live. I don't wean heavy calves like our northern friends do. But when looking at a cattle operation from a standpoint of percentage of pounds weaned, it boggles the mind somewhat...

Anyone else thought of this, or am I the slow lightbulb that came on too late???

Cypress you are like an Airedale a lot smarter than you look. I have for years looked for the moderate cow with great growth and weaning. It comes down to input cost. I have noticed the large frame cows do worse in our summers than the moderate as well, a summer calf will have the worse growth of them all. I am looking for pounds with the lest input cost to run across the scales. I forgot to put on grass and hay you can grow almost anything out of a sack.
 

bigbull338

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ive got light weight cows an i have heavyweight cows.an they both wean some nice heavy calves.an they pull their own weight.because they are heavy milkers.
 

Limomike

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I have run with Beefmaster cows for years, and they consistently raise great calves, and they do very well in the summer months. But... that being said, now that I have some Red Angus cows, I am amazed at the way those momma cows retain their weight, while supporting their calves, and the calves grow out exceptionally well, when it really doesnt look like the mother cow has that big of a bag! So, when you are talking big framed cow, vs a medium framed one... dont really see that much difference in the calves, but I have seen the difference in the BC of the mommas when they are raising calves.
(Did that make sense to anyone) :lol2:

Tonight, I am going to go listen to Oklahoma State Extension Area Livestock Specialist (Kent Barnes) discuss herd traits that can improve the bottom line, and see if he can expound on anything I need to know. Any of you other "okies" that are close-by might want to attend. its at 6:30PM in the Pryor Northeaster Tech Center.
 

forageconverter

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I’ve always felt a cow should wean a calf close to a minimum of 50% of her body weight.

However, many people claim their cost to keep a big cow is not much different than their cost to keep a smaller cow. Therefore, they are usually able to wean more weight for near the same input costs, even though that weight is less than 50% percent of a ‘big’ cow’s body weight.

My experience has been that for a given amount of land, I am able to run more smaller cows than I am bigger cows, and am able to wean more total weight from the smaller cows. But then you run into yield associated costs. More cows and more calves means more shots to give, more tags to buy, and more commission to pay.

So bundling more weight in one package could be more efficient than having more total weight in two smaller packages.

Not to hijack your thread, but I think the most important number to look at in determining cow profitability is how much it costs to produce one pound of beef. Take your total costs for the year and divide by the total number of pounds of beef you produced for the year. Then compare this number to the current market price to see how you’re doing.

A person who has a high cow-cost-per-day may be raising more beef than a person who has low cow-cost-per-day, therefore the high cow-cost-per-day person could be the more efficient producer. The only way to know who is truly more efficient is to know the cost to produce one pound of beef.
 

SRBeef

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Very interesting topic, Cypress.

Here is a photo I may have shown here before:


The two shorter cows in the center consistently weigh in right at 1200-1235 lb each. The taller cows outside of them typically weigh in at about 1350-1400 lb each.

One of these two 1200 lb cows (#66, from this angle I'm not sure which one of the two she is) weaned my heaviest 205 day calf - heavier than the larger cows on either side.

So I would have to agree that it is not necessarily true that a larger cow weans a larger calf.

The other question I have is does a 1400 lb cow necessarily consume significantly more feed than a 1200 lb cow?

Very good thread. Thank you.
 
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cypressfarms

cypressfarms

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SRBeef":kmvsbtsr said:
The other question I have is does a 1400 lb cow necessarily consume significantly more feed than a 1200 lb cow?


Well I've seen plenty of info spewed on the CT boards about calculating what a cow needs in daily intake as a percentage of that cow's weight. If that is true, than how can a larger cow not cost more??? I know they surely cost more when I fill the needle with Ivomec Plus, because you administer the dosage by weight.

I know there will be people who love their big cows, and that's o.k. too. For argument's sake, let's say you as a cow calfer have the choice to raise huge cows that will wean a 800 pound calf at 205 days or you could have 2 smaller cows that equal the same weight as the large cow. Now you have two 400 pound calves. You run all through the sale ring. I see two things happening:

1. The cow/calfer will get penalized for bringing heavier calves. We all know the heavier the calf, the lower the price it will bring. I've seen it so many times, when calves get above a certain weight the price starts dropping. There is a point there (if you could graph it) where bigger is not better.

2. You bring in one 800 pound steer. Although it's big moma raised a fine calf, you get docked because it's big. You run two 400 pound steers through and what happens? A smaller steer will sell for more per pound. So is it better to have two 400 pounders or one 800 pounder? The stockyard doesn't care because they make a percentage commission; at least the one's around here.

I'm back to the data for more studying; I'm thinking seriously about (long term) reducing the frame size of my herd even more. I like the 900 pound cows that wean 500 pound calves.
 

dun

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cypressfarms":3anwmmiy said:
SRBeef":3anwmmiy said:
The other question I have is does a 1400 lb cow necessarily consume significantly more feed than a 1200 lb cow?


Well I've seen plenty of info spewed on the CT boards about calculating what a cow needs in daily intake as a percentage of that cow's weight. If that is true, than how can a larger cow not cost more???

You have to have a basis point to work from to insure that you have adequate feed but it isn;t graven in stone.
When we start feeding hay in the fall/winter we calculate how much hay we'll need based on the % of body weight for the whole herd. That gives me a warm and fuzzy or heartburn depending on how much hay we have in the barn. We never have used as much as we've calculated we would need. In wetfrigid years we come closer to the calculated amount then in mild dry years.
 

backhoeboogie

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Cypress you have to hear me out on this twist to understand where I am going.

We've also experienced a new market that is upside down from the old. In the old days, a 4 weight steer brought something in the proximity of 20 cents more a pound than say a 7 weight. So if the 4 weight brought $1.20 at an even 400 lbs, he sold for $480 whereas the 7 weight at exactly 700 lbs would fetch $700.

Last summer it was exactly the opposite because of feed costs. 7 weights were bringing more per pound that 4 weights. I sat through many sales in July and August watching this. Never seen it like this before.

Now where this figures in to your frame size discussion Cypress is that people once got away with "lowlines" in this climate. The cold climate cows would wean light calves because of the heat here. This was not so much compounded because buyers paid more per pound for the lighter calves - until last summer. I know of one person in particular who simply got out of the business and plans to start over. His whole herd had evolved into low lines and he calved in the spring.

Your discussion hits home in more ways and angles than you'll ever know.
 
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cypressfarms

cypressfarms

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backhoeboogie":2wgu200q said:
Your discussion hits home in more ways and angles than you'll ever know.

Hey Backhoe,

I'm not trying to sound like the savior, that's for sure; and I've been around long enough to know that one plan never works for everyone. I think that of all of the many facets we (cow/calfers) have control over, this is one topic that has not been discussed, at least where I've seen it.

This past Nov. I bought some mostly 5 weight heifers for next to nothing in price (in the .60's), and the small black steers were still selling around 1.05 to 1.10. The price I paid for the much larger heifers was less than the small 4 to 5 weight steers. That tells me a lot. Food price still high, everyone except farmers thinking farmers are making a killing. Really too easy to blame the middlemen. So let's play their game. The major stockers make money from taking small (400 to 600 #) calves, feeding them out, and selling them for slaughter. When you think about it from their point of view, I guess that two 400 pound steers have more "potential" profit as opposed to one 800 pound steer. If that's the case, then my 900 pound cow that consistently beats the weaned average of larger cows is the way to go.


Dun,

Are you saying that larger cows DO NOT cost more to retain than smaller cows??? Don't worry, it's not a loaded question, just want your opinion. I'm no Tennessee turn my cow loose 4c tophand poster child.
 

dun

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cypressfarms":315c61iy said:
Dun,

Are you saying that larger cows DO NOT cost more to retain than smaller cows??? Don't worry, it's not a loaded question, just want your opinion. I'm no Tennessee turn my cow loose 4c tophand poster child.
Sure they do. But it's probably not a linear deal that a cow that weighs 50% more will eat 50% more
 

backhoeboogie

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cypressfarms":2crdwim8 said:
I bought some mostly 5 weight heifers for next to nothing in price (in the .60's), and the small black steers were still selling around 1.05 to 1.10.

I bought a whole bunch myself, if they had some ear. Many were even lighter. I took some beefmaster too which was new for me. I intend to cull heavy but retain many of them.

What I like about taking heifers is that you can sit on them for as long as it takes for the market to get right, provided you have the grass. Steers are pretty much a one was street. If the market does not get right, these heifers may all be cows before they set foot in the sale barn. :shock:
 

TexasBred

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Until the past 6 months I'd always sold everything around 400 lbs. Seems that good 400 pounder would bring as much net money around here as a 500-550 lb. calf. And it got that calf off the cow that much earlier. This year I'm still sitting on some that are getting close to 700 or more but I think they're leaving this week. Market is up a little so if I sell that means it will go up even more for the rest of you. :lol: :lol:
 
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cypressfarms

cypressfarms

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TexasBred":2d6jr26z said:
Until the past 6 months I'd always sold everything around 400 lbs. Seems that good 400 pounder would bring as much net money around here as a 500-550 lb. calf. And it got that calf off the cow that much earlier. This year I'm still sitting on some that are getting close to 700 or more but I think they're leaving this week. Market is up a little so if I sell that means it will go up even more for the rest of you. :lol: :lol:


I hear you TexBred,

One of my little tricks was to sell the calves in August that I could (meaning cows that had calved early winter), to not only gain an advantage on the fall drop in prices, but to also let moma gain some weight before winter.
 

HerefordSire

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Good posts in here. All are related to getting the most bang for the buck. Efficiency is the keyword along with variable market conditions. However, I am not seeing the word metabolism being used. Why not? In other words, when determining the total pounds being raised, all feed inputs must be measured in order to determine the net....The issue I see here is measuring the actual grass consumption which is usually dependent upon the climate and rainfall, etc...Who measures grass intake, other than hay, and once you measure it accurately one year, who is going to be able to replicate it?

For example, say I have 1,000 pound cow and a 2,000 pound cow. Both raise a 55% pound calf. Which one will make you more money in the same market? My point is, it doesn't matter how many pounds you raise or the percentage of calf pounds the cows weans, what matter is the feed efficieny of the cow and calf and since grass consumption is not measured accurately, mainly through the way a cow grazes, the only way to lower the odds in one's favor is through DNA testing for feed efficiency markers which in itself can take away any profit, or at least any additional profit we are fortunate to partake in....we might as all just guess.

What do you think?
 

Jogeephus

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I think feed efficiency is easier to calculate than you might expect. If they are all fed the same thing and some are easy fleshing and some are not then this - I would think - is your indicator. I've culled all my hard-keepers and keep the easy fleshers. Have some that are big and some that are moderate. I prefer the moderate but as long as the biguns can hold their own I'm not culling them.
 

HerefordSire

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Theoretically....

...having all big cows can be more efficient than having all small cows even if their weaning percentages are not the same. The reason is because of variances in individual metabolism. If you had a small cow weaning a high percentage relative to another small cow weaning the exact same high percentage, and you had to cull one, which one would it be? I would cull the one that ate the most, not the one that weighed the least. How am I going to know which one that is? Another way of looking at it...say I have 100 easy keepers all weaned the exact same percentage....which ones do I cull? Do I cull the ones that weigh the most? No! I cull the ones that eat the most. I can't cull the ones that weigh the most because the metabolism may be lower than one that weighs less, maybe due to the age or maturity or breed.
 

HerefordSire

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Jogeephus":3qz8rnmb said:
But what are you calling large. Are they large cause of fat or large cause of frame?

I intentionally used a word that could not be traced to weight or frame so the reader would have to concentrate on the point I was making regarding the rate at which calories are utilized.
 
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cypressfarms

cypressfarms

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o.k., back with some data:

The following info has been compiled over the last three seasons at my farm. please, before you criticize my weaning weights, please take in mind that I do live down deep south, and my weaning weights will not be as much as our friends to the north. I never liked those that showed off numbers, but from number crunching:

Small frame cows ~ 900 pounds weaned calves that were 51% of their weight over the three years.
Medium frame cows ~ 1100 pounds weaned calves that were 45% of their weight over the three years.
Large frame cows ~ 1300 pounds weaned calves that were 40% of their weight over the three years.

All cows are commercial brangus and beefmaster, bred to Angus plus and Brangus low birthweight bulls. I like small calves, around 75 to 85 pounds, and that has held true (the birthweight of the calves), regardless of the size of the cow - this actually surprised me. I assumed that larger cows would naturally have slightly larger calves, but that wasn't the case.

So, now the questions:

1. Large frame cows in my operation are 30% larger than small frame cows, but only wean calves that are 11% heavier. This is a 29% difference. What I haven't answered yet is are the larger cows costing 11% more than small frame cows to upkeep? If so, then it seems the smaller cow produces better efficiencies when weaning calves. As an example, a 1300 pound cow would require 3.6 cc's more of Ivomec Plus to treat than a 900 pound cow. These are the types of costs that I'm contemplating.

2. I have NO idea which cows eat what amounts of hay and grass. For most cattlemen, I think they would also have no idea what each cow consumes when compared to other cows. I know my boss cow (who is large framed) gets to the feed trough/bales of hay first and has her choice, but does she eat more? In my opinion, there is no way I can accurately calculate cow consumption, so to try would be fruitless.

3. I have seen the adverse affect when large calves bring lower prices, but is this reliable enough to calculate to make a decision on what frame cows to keep?

4. From first glance, small frame cows would be the more economical choice, but where I live, grass is rarely in short supply. This means that for the most part my land can support big cows sufficiently. I guess the choice would be between fewer big cows, or more smaller cows. Now I have an almost equal mix - still not sure if I should make changes, but data like posted on this thread makes you think long and hard.

Please think twice before tearing up my weaning weights. They are low compared to many of the people who brag about their weanling weighing 700 pounds. They work for me, and are accurate numbers.
 
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