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Cow cost per head....2020

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Stocker Steve

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Most of us have too many cows.

I think a key in fescue country is to stock cows for the dormant season - - so you build stockpile during the growing season to greatly reduce wintering costs. This reduces cost per cow. Profit per acre is a different deal.

I think a key in snow country is to use sacrificial seasonal animals for the spring flush - - and winter the remainder on by products and residue to greatly reduce wintering costs. This reduces cost per cow. Profit per acre is a different deal.

Most of us have too many cows.

Bud said - - better to make money on 10 head than lose money on 100 head.
 

tom4018

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Sometimes I post this, sometimes I don't. Cant remember if I have the last couple of years or not.

Very rudimentary breakdown on my 2020 cow cost

Just counting feed/hay, maintenance, insurance, gas, vet (vaccinations etc.).........Every cow on my place cost $373 to own last year

That number does not include property tax, depreciation, livestock I purchased. If I had included those expenses, the ole herd would show a net loss (I will claim a loss on my taxes)

Didn't include depreciation , because I have made a few purchases simply to make my life easier. We now run 2 hay cutters, and upgraded the hay roller. In my opinion, it was a wise decision. We had a wet year, and more than doubled our efficiency. I "should" be through making equipment purchases for many years to come. Next year I plan to replace some buildings I have lost to tornados, so it will be a loss as well.

Bottom line, and not to discourage anybody, but there just aint no money in cows. Not the way I do it anyway.
Alot better than me. I guess I track my cost differently, by the head sold. Last year had more equipment problems than normal, had some trackhoe work done, some dumb mistakes some my fault and some by my fertilizer supplier that cost me several hundred extra. It all added to my loss. This is one year I would have been money ahead not to own cows, there has been more than one of those.
 
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Bigfoot

Bigfoot

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Alot better than me. I guess I track my cost differently, by the head sold. Last year had more equipment problems than normal, had some trackhoe work done, some dumb mistakes some my fault and some by my fertilizer supplier that cost me several hundred extra. It all added to my loss. This is one year I would have been money ahead not to own cows, there has been more than one of those.
Reading that, I remembered I had a tractor in the shop twice with a guy that only takes cash. Therefore I didn’t spread sheet it because I couldn’t deduct it.
 
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Bigfoot

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Pasture value here is around $33 cow per month (animal unit month or AUM) whether leased or value of owned pasture. So having a cow on pasture is $390/year. Add 1.5 tons of hay at $150/ton average for another $225 equals $615 a year to feed one. Then add in fuel, vaccine, fence repairs, vet, depreciation at maybe $50-60 per head to be $660-670 per head per year just for cows. Better grass years we can back off to about 1.0 ton per cow. Backgrounding calves and developing replacements are separate enterprises. Capital improvements have to be paid from profits or owner contributions -- from off ranch income.
I’ve had a wet year, and managed grass pretty good if I can winter a cow on less than 1.5 tons of hay. I’m assuming your in Wyoming. I would have thought you guys hay more days than here.
 

GoWyo

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I’ve had a wet year, and managed grass pretty good if I can winter a cow on less than 1.5 tons of hay. I’m assuming your in Wyoming. I would have thought you guys hay more days than here.
In the mountain valleys it is probably more like 2 to 2.5 tons hay. I am on the eastern plains with only a small meadow. Winters are fairly open so it is grass and cake until calving in March, then feed lactating cows March and April. Could cheapen it up if I calved in May, but we raise Angus feedstock, so sell yearling bulls in the spring so March is about as late as we can calve and have bulls ready for turn out in May.
 

RDFF

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You need more cows.

My Norwegian ag instructor/FFA advisor told this Ole and Lars joke, about them deciding to get into the cattle business and make "the BIG bucks"... Their plan was to buy some stockers at the local auction barn, (where they ended up paying 1.65/#), and then load them up and haul them to the BIG auction barn and resell 'em (where they ended up getting 1.45/#). This went on for a couple of months, and they finally sat down and looked at the books. Lars was a little concerned....... Ole looks at Lars and says, "Vell, der iss only vun ting vee can doooo, vee got to get a bigger truuck!"

I expect there's lots of guys on the "Ole and Lars" plan. Long as we are willing to keep supplying cattle at a loss and subsidizing our "cattle business" with off the farm income, nobody's going to feel sorry for us. It's the law of supply and demand.
 

TennesseeTuxedo

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My Norwegian ag instructor/FFA advisor told this Ole and Lars joke, about them deciding to get into the cattle business and make "the BIG bucks"... Their plan was to buy some stockers at the local auction barn, (where they ended up paying 1.65/#), and then load them up and haul them to the BIG auction barn and resell 'em (where they ended up getting 1.45/#). This went on for a couple of months, and they finally sat down and looked at the books. Lars was a little concerned....... Ole looks at Lars and says, "Vell, der iss only vun ting vee can doooo, vee got to get a bigger truuck!"

I expect there's lots of guys on the "Ole and Lars" plan. Long as we are willing to keep supplying cattle at a loss and subsidizing our "cattle business" with off the farm income, nobody's going to feel sorry for us. It's the law of supply and demand.
I’ve heard a similar tale involving a couple of good ole boys hauling $1.25 watermelons from Alabama to Chicago only to sell them for $1.00. Yeah, bigger trucks always seem to be the answer.
 

chaded

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People don’t pay hardly anything for pasture around here so not much will be made off of leasing. Worse pay then the cows and that’s pretty bad. I have the same cost just about as Bigfoot and after mine get done eating the hay I have left I am destocking..........by 100%. Lol.
 

Dave

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Pretty easy to figure your value of pasture when the vast majority of your pasture is rented or leased. It is X dollars for rent divided by the number of cow days in that pasture. To convert to deeded pasture use the average of what the rented pasture cost and the number of cow days on that pasture.
 

GoWyo

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Pretty easy to figure your value of pasture when the vast majority of your pasture is rented or leased. It is X dollars for rent divided by the number of cow days in that pasture. To convert to deeded pasture use the average of what the rented pasture cost and the number of cow days on that pasture.

Exactly. I have owned pasture that is paid for, state leases that cost $12/AUM (we own the infrastructure including stock well, pump, tanks, fences), and private leases from $20/AUM to $33/AUM. The market rate is $33 so that is the base cost to run a cow for a month. If I pay less than $33 it is a return to capital, but she still cost $33/month to have a place to be.
 

Stocker Steve

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As calf prices go down - - we are supposed to reduce our stocking rate to extend the grazing season and use less stored feed. Anyone in this profit increase approach?
 

1982vett

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As calf prices go down - - we are supposed to reduce our stocking rate to extend the grazing season and use less stored feed. Anyone in this profit increase approach?
Here...less work, infrastructure needs, less equipment wear and repairs needed, haven bought fertilizer to meet hay and forage demands going on three years. On and on...

I went into this fall with a lot of droughty grass. Zero green winter grass. Had to start haying before Thanksgiving. After this snow we’ve gotten yesterday along with the 2+ inches of rain since Christmas I should be fine going into spring. Summer will depend on rainfall..as always. Might be a little tighter this year as I didn’t replace anything earlier in the year this Fall. Puts me about 20 or so head short of my new normal.
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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I'm reading - but wouldn't dare talk figures - you guys blow me away with your annual cost per cow. Even hay - I probably go thru 10-12 bales/hd/winter. No stockpile grazing. Although, we had drought conditions and finally got a lot of fall rain, so we grazed 50 acres of hay field that we couldn't get 2nd cutting off (wasn't any!!). So, we did not start haying the herd until about 11-1 --- normally closer to 10-1.
 

Lucky_P

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Yeah, I never could figure out how to make that 'stockpiling' deal work... If I had to pull cows off of 'stockpiling' pastures from late August til December, or whenever you're supposed to start grazing that stockpiled pasture... I'd have had to start feeding hay in August, instead of late Oct/early Nov... and probably would have had to go back to feeding hay again within 3 weeks of starting to graze the stockpiled paddocks... until late March or April. Tried it once... just didn't work for us.
Or... I guess we could have cut the herd back to about 1/4 of what we had... and it really would have been a 'hobby'...
 
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