Cost of keeping a cow

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Stocker Steve

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Caustic Burno":1hi9qzcc said:
Just finished the book and taxes for last year my cost came to 1.52 a day.
That's roughly 555 a year that's everything contributed to the cow labor, meds, fuel,fertilizer maintenance,taxes you name it.

That would make you a low cost producer in the north.
 

Stocker Steve

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Dave":ypwhgsiu said:
I buy my hay and rent the summer pasture. That makes it easy to calculate feed cost which are the biggest expense. Buying hay by the ton in semi loads makes it real easy to calculate the real cost. Right now I am feeding for $1.1425 per cow per day. When I go to pasture it cost $14.85 per pair per month. Totaled up that comes to $274.95 per cow per year. I own one tractor which runs about 5 minutes a day this time of year and sits without running for months in the summer. Any implements I own were bought on the cheap at auctions. I haven't spread fertilizer or done weed control in years. The one semi big project is spreading the manure collected at the barn. But with purchased hay that manure is imported nutrients for the pasture. I spend a lot less spreading that manure than I would on purchased fertilizer.

I used to rent all my pasture and buy all my hay also, but I made too much money that way. So I expanded till I re proved that you can have too many cows. :nod: There is a size sweet point for any given operation.
 

TennesseeTuxedo

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Caustic Burno":kqkqyi2p said:
Dave":kqkqyi2p said:
I buy my hay and rent the summer pasture. That makes it easy to calculate feed cost which are the biggest expense. Buying hay by the ton in semi loads makes it real easy to calculate the real cost. Right now I am feeding for $1.1425 per cow per day. When I go to pasture it cost $14.85 per pair per month. Totaled up that comes to $274.95 per cow per year. I own one tractor which runs about 5 minutes a day this time of year and sits without running for months in the summer. Any implements I own were bought on the cheap at auctions. I haven't spread fertilizer or done weed control in years. The one semi big project is spreading the manure collected at the barn. But with purchased hay that manure is imported nutrients for the pasture. I spend a lot less spreading that manure than I would on purchased fertilizer.

Just finished the book and taxes for last year my cost came to 1.52 a day.
That's roughly 555 a year that's everything contributed to the cow labor, meds, fuel,fertilizer maintenance,taxes you name it.

I imagine your costs would be much higher just running a handful of cows and a bull.
 

TennesseeTuxedo

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shaz":1pf3tg95 said:
TennesseeTuxedo":1pf3tg95 said:
Caustic Burno":1pf3tg95 said:
You can't roll hay for 25 dollars a roll
By the time you figure fuel,maintenance, fertilizer and equipment you be lucky to come in at forty bucks a roll.

Don't tell my hay supplier that because I'd hate for him to cut me off after 3 years of paying $25 a 4x5 roll.

I'm at 60/ton for pretty good quality Johnson grass and fescue. Started hiring a custom baler last year.

Per ton changes things quite a bit.
 

Caustic Burno

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TennesseeTuxedo":1jljk3ia said:
Caustic Burno":1jljk3ia said:
Dave":1jljk3ia said:
I buy my hay and rent the summer pasture. That makes it easy to calculate feed cost which are the biggest expense. Buying hay by the ton in semi loads makes it real easy to calculate the real cost. Right now I am feeding for $1.1425 per cow per day. When I go to pasture it cost $14.85 per pair per month. Totaled up that comes to $274.95 per cow per year. I own one tractor which runs about 5 minutes a day this time of year and sits without running for months in the summer. Any implements I own were bought on the cheap at auctions. I haven't spread fertilizer or done weed control in years. The one semi big project is spreading the manure collected at the barn. But with purchased hay that manure is imported nutrients for the pasture. I spend a lot less spreading that manure than I would on purchased fertilizer.

Just finished the book and taxes for last year my cost came to 1.52 a day.
That's roughly 555 a year that's everything contributed to the cow labor, meds, fuel,fertilizer maintenance,taxes you name it.

I imagine your costs would be much higher just running a handful of cows and a bull.

Actually it's cheaper since I sold
70% of the cows. I haven't had a major purchase since 06. I have less equipment to maintain and my fertilizer cost have went down by 75%.
I would agree with you if you were starting out and trying to put everything together your 100.% correct.
 

TexasBred

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Stocker Steve":bxa97fra said:
Dave":bxa97fra said:
I buy my hay and rent the summer pasture. That makes it easy to calculate feed cost which are the biggest expense. Buying hay by the ton in semi loads makes it real easy to calculate the real cost. Right now I am feeding for $1.1425 per cow per day. When I go to pasture it cost $14.85 per pair per month. Totaled up that comes to $274.95 per cow per year. I own one tractor which runs about 5 minutes a day this time of year and sits without running for months in the summer. Any implements I own were bought on the cheap at auctions. I haven't spread fertilizer or done weed control in years. The one semi big project is spreading the manure collected at the barn. But with purchased hay that manure is imported nutrients for the pasture. I spend a lot less spreading that manure than I would on purchased fertilizer.

I used to rent all my pasture and buy all my hay also, but I made too much money that way. So I expanded till I re proved that you can have too many cows. :nod: There is a size sweet point for any given operation.
There you go again trying to disprove the theory that twice the cattle doesn't mean twice the profit. :nod: :lol:
 

Stocker Steve

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Caustic Burno":1z0woxvn said:
Actually it's cheaper since I sold 70% of the cows. I haven't had a major purchase since 06. I have less equipment to maintain and my fertilizer cost have went down by 75%. I would agree with you if you were starting out and trying to put everything together your 100.% correct.

In theory there are "start up costs" the first couple years in business. For me there were expenses for catching up on lime applications and inter seeding clover and replacing 50 year old fence and adding additional stock water and rebuilding bargain equipment and reroofing sheds. With stuff like that behind you - - the per cow expenses should go way down and the carrying capacity should go up. You could even end up with too much forage. :eek:

Of course, there are some folks don't maintain what they have. We have a couple of those in the area, who were bragging about low costs and high income in the past, but now they are having trouble finding a fool to overpay for their farm with all its deferred maintenance and mined out soil.

I think an ideal is if you can work with nature to improve what you have with limited -- not lowest - - costs.
 

farmerjan

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If we charge everything farm related; feed, fertilizer, pasture rents, fuel, vet costs, equipment values with depreciation, and hay value (fuel fertilizer & hay ground rents) NOT COUNTING OUR LABOR VALUE, we figure it costs us in the $1.50 / day for cows (cow/calf pair). That's in the neighborhood of $550. a year. That is also including raising about 30 or so heifers kept as replacements, per year. This past year it will be less since we had quite a bit of stockpiled grass and have been feeding lot less hay.
Since we sell about 1000 to 1500 small square bales (40-50lbs), and usually 50-200 rolls a year; we figure the cost of the hay separately from the cow cost and assign a value to the rolls of hay. That's between $35 and $45 a roll normally. We make both 4x5 and 5x5 rolls. And like last year, we were late making 1st cutting due to the constant rain early, grasses and pastures grew and flourished and we had alot of stockpiled grass and are feeding alot less hay. But it has been very dry for the winter, next to no snow and very windy and warmer than normal overall, so have no idea how this coming years hay will do. I think we will be glad to have more left over than we usually do.
We do wean and feed some calves for 30-90 days, to take advantage of the market some years. We do feed a little grain to the "grandma" group of cows that have fall calves to make it a little easier on them through the winter; we try to not have too many of them calve in the fall but we do buy some breds so can't choose when they calve. Some years we have bought corn silage and that is a big expense to get it bagged, but it has helped even out the feed situation sometimes. Didn't buy any last year and are feeding out a 2 yr old bag to get it cleaned up. May grow some grain sorghum for silage this coming year, a friend has done it and it is really nice and a much lower cost than the corn silage. We are feeding some of his to try it since he has extra to sell, it is a reasonable cost to do it.
 

farmerjan

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On years of plentiful hay it is cheaper to buy it. But since several places that we rent have both pasture and hay ground we have to make the hay. A couple we can run the cows on the hay ground so often only make 1st cutting then rotational graze it. But several don't have any fences or water so can't graze them. Right now we can buy hay here for $20-25 a roll with the surplus everyone has.
 

Stocker Steve

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farmerjan":1w9ek77k said:
May grow some grain sorghum for silage this coming year, a friend has done it and it is really nice and a much lower cost than the corn silage. We are feeding some of his to try it since he has extra to sell, it is a reasonable cost to do it.

What and where do you see savings with sorghum?
 

Caustic Burno

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Stocker Steve":3qbgfqgi said:
Caustic Burno":3qbgfqgi said:
Actually it's cheaper since I sold 70% of the cows. I haven't had a major purchase since 06. I have less equipment to maintain and my fertilizer cost have went down by 75%. I would agree with you if you were starting out and trying to put everything together your 100.% correct.

In theory there are "start up costs" the first couple years in business. For me there were expenses for catching up on lime applications and inter seeding clover and replacing 50 year old fence and adding additional stock water and rebuilding bargain equipment and reroofing sheds. With stuff like that behind you - - the per cow expenses should go way down and the carrying capacity should go up. You could even end up with too much forage. :eek:

Of course, there are some folks don't maintain what they have. We have a couple of those in the area, who were bragging about low costs and high income in the past, but now they are having trouble finding a fool to overpay for their farm with all its deferred maintenance and mined out soil.

I think an ideal is if you can work with nature to improve what you have with limited -- not lowest - - costs.

If I didn't have to pay labor now my cost could be reduced by .35 to.40 cents a day.
Since downsizing I have excess forage
When running at max capacity was actually more costly per cow that required fertilizer on every pasture each year, now they are on a three year rotation.
 

Stocker Steve

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Caustic Burno":3votgf2y said:
Since downsizing I have excess forage. When running at max capacity was actually more costly per cow that required fertilizer on every pasture each year, now they are on a three year rotation.

We could have justified a lot of inputs with $3 calves, but those times did not last long. Now we need to position in the new/old sweet spot for lower selling prices.
 

farmerjan

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Stocker Steve; we grow a sorghum-sudan grass when we are renovating a hay field. Last year we made it into "dry hay" but often we will wrap it. The cows like it a little better wrapped but then there is the added expense. Since conditions warranted, we just made it as a dry hay. There wasn't enough time to get a second cutting, so I bushhogged it and then we planted barley in one place and rye in the other. We do a 2 year renovation so that we use as little chemicals as possible to get rid of the weeds. Sometimes we plant wheat, instead of the barley. That will get made into a hay and wrapped if we don't have the weather to make it dry, then plant the sorghum-sudan and get normally 2 cuttings, then put it back into barley or rye or wheat. The second year we do the same, then will go back with orchard grass instead of the sorghum-sudan the following year. We might take a single cutting off it if the conditions are right, late in the fall.
We were feeding the corn silage to the "grandma cows" with fall calves, and to the calves we were holding over the winter. The grain sorghum could be used instead of the sorghum-sudan in the rotation and make us some silage instead of the hay. There is a pretty good energy value, the animals like it, and it is a whole lot cheaper to plant than corn for silage. We have to winter one group of cows there on some pretty poor ground for the winter and they just need something more than just hay. This gives them a little more energy, and we can easily add some grain in the feeder wagons to boost the protein. We had some problems with an imbalance of energy and protein and the cows were looking terrible, and it was just too low a protein for the lactating beef cows with the fall calves. When we sell some of these calves, there are a couple of people who want calves that are bunk broke; so it is in our best interests if they are eating from the bunk and know what silage is.
The whole thing is, we will be planting sorghum-sudan or something, so a grain sorghum just seems like a possibility and making it into silage, then going back with the fall cover crop. We just thought we would try something different and I am not really sold on corn silage for beef animals, and definitely not happy with the cost. Corn also takes a lot out of the ground and the inputs are really high cost. If we could find some more help, we would harvest more small sq bales of orchard grass since we have people constantly wanting it. A good clean field of it will produce for 4-8 years before we get many weeds to come up in it. It is worth 3/4 or more of what alfalfa is worth here, and it is more forgiving for making it. Our schedules do not allow for us to make alfalfa every 28-30 days like they say you should; or when it is less than 10% bloom. And first cutting is very stemmy, so by rights that ought to be chopped. So orchard grass just fits our operation, and the demand here.
Therefore, we try to keep our fields in good production.
 

hillbilly beef man

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Am I the only one who figures fences into what it costs to keep a cow per year? I have always figured $3 per foot for a 6 strand barbed wire fence with a life span of 20 years for said fence. Most places this runs around $100 per cow per year just for fences. My total cost is just under $700 per cow most years counting fencing cost.
 

farmerjan

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TexasBred":tsfun24t said:
Jan seed corn can cost over $200 a bag. What does a bag of sorghum seed cost??
TB sorry I was gone for a couple of days, then had to remember where this thread was. Talked to my son on the costs. He says he figures that it costs about $70/acre for the sorghum-sudan and he is planting it about 1+1/2 times the recommended rate to get a thick stand. He said that the grain sorghum seed will run about $125 a bag compared to the over $200+ for seed corn; I don't know the rate of seed per acre but he said it was alot less than the sorghum-sudan; but then the savings also goes to less fertilizer inputs and no spraying for weeds and such. I think he is still getting info from this friend/neighbor about it, but so far he says he does like the silage from the grain sorghum. Another one of his friends, has a dairy and he also grows alot of it and says that he likes it better for the yield/cost comparison than the corn silage. We did not grow any of the corn that we bought for silage; it was available here as there are several people who grow it and then sell it or make it for themselves. We did have to pay for the bagger and bought the corn silage by the ton one year. Another year we bought it by the acre.
Another thing that I am not sold on is all the GMO and "round-up ready" seed corn. There have been several studies done that I have read about with this round-up ready stuff, especially the alfalfa seed, and how the animals are finding it less palatible and not wanting to eat it. We had some problems with the cows not liking this last corn silage, and after having samples done, it seems to test okay, but the guy said it was almost like it hadn't really ensiled; and did we get it made and then opened the bag before it had really had a chance to ferment properly. This stuff is from 2015, we didn't make any in 2016. I am just not sold on all this stuff that has been altered... ..and I am allergen sensitive to alot of chemicals, so really don't want alot of that stuff in my animals feed either. Another reason to be mostly a grass based operation.
I want to see some forage samples and what all it is testing. The cows are eating the grain sorghum silage pretty good but I don't think that it has alot of protein either.
 

farmerjan

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hillbilly beef man":2gz1teaj said:
Am I the only one who figures fences into what it costs to keep a cow per year? I have always figured $3 per foot for a 6 strand barbed wire fence with a life span of 20 years for said fence. Most places this runs around $100 per cow per year just for fences. My total cost is just under $700 per cow most years counting fencing cost.

No we don't figure the costs of permanent fences as they are considered a capital improvement but we do figure in the cost of temp elec fencing that we use to section off fields. Also, we rent 98% of the pastures that we run cows on so that is part of the rent cost, and so I guess in a way we do figure that in since it is part of the rent cost. But if figured that way, then it is still about $550 per c/c per year, since we do charge our cows for the pasture rents. And that is also figuring in the rental agreements where we do the upkeep, and where we do rebuilding fences that are in agreement with the different landlords.
 

RanchMan90

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Sterling Marketing president John Nalivka projects cash profit margins for cow-calf producers in 2017 will average $78 per cow. That would be $99 per head less than the estimated average profit of $177 for 2016. Estimated average cow-calf margins were $438 per cow in 2015. Does this sound about right?
 

Caustic Burno

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RanchMan90":1i7ps5c5 said:
Sterling Marketing president John Nalivka projects cash profit margins for cow-calf producers in 2017 will average $78 per cow. That would be $99 per head less than the estimated average profit of $177 for 2016. Estimated average cow-calf margins were $438 per cow in 2015. Does this sound about right?
Bet there are a lot not making that unless you really charge the cow for all expenses you have no clue.
Last year cost me 492 dollars to keep a cow standing in the pasture. That is actually down from 552 the year before.
Just finished the books for the CPA.
 

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