Cow cost per head....2020

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Silver

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I have lost on them to of course. I’d say on cow and calf pairs, to get over and above depreciation and every last single penny spent you’d need to sell $1000 calves to make “good” money.
I don't know... I averaged over $1,100 USD on my steer calves this fall and not sure I'd call it "good" money lol But I will get to ranch for another year!
 

Lucky

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My goal has been to avg $1,000 a calf for several years now. I’ve done it 4 out of the last 6. 1 year was just mismanagement on my part due to buying and rebuilding my current place another was the first year I tried to keep them past May (I calve Jan 19 for 90 days) I had them long weaned and looking great but the rain stopped and I just hung on too long. 2020 was my best year but I kept them a long time. It’s really hard to pin down an exact number on carrying cost but I’m at around $275 a cow and $125 to feed a yearling through winter.

The earlier comment about not buying back when your failing is a sure sign of someone going down. That is true in any business though.
 

Stocker Steve

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There are some cowboys who claim you make more money by selling light weight calves. I think this is true where you con't have cheap feed for retained ownership.

There are some traders who claim you make more money by selling your calves and then buying back mismanaged calves. I think this is true if you are really good at both marketing and receiving.

There are some grazers who claim your make more money by taking your calves back to grass. I think this is true if you are really good at both forage chains and stocking rates.
 

tom4018

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That’s a good question actually. On calves I buy to background, I get pretty excited if I make $150. I’m pretty well satisfied at $75 per head. I have lost on them to of course. I’d say on cow and calf pairs, to get over and above depreciation and every last single penny spent you’d need to sell $1000 calves to make “good” money.
At what weight are you figuring on selling calves? This week 825 steers only did around $920 weaned while mid 5 weight brought $750 range. Unless you have real cheap ways to take them up to that weight I don't see the extra weight pays. Am I missing something?
 

KAstocker

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At what weight are you figuring on selling calves? This week 825 steers only did around $920 weaned while mid 5 weight brought $750 range. Unless you have real cheap ways to take them up to that weight I don't see the extra weight pays. Am I missing something?
Yeah too many people don't figure value of gain. They think if their calves bring $1.50 and they put 50 more pounds on them, they'll get $75 more. That's almost never true, more like $25-$50 more.
 

Till-Hill

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Yeah too many people don't figure value of gain. They think if their calves bring $1.50 and they put 50 more pounds on them, they'll get $75 more. That's almost never true, more like $25-$50 more.
Up here in my country where most beef guys got enough crops and many are retired dairy farmers I'd say 70% background their calves. 30% sell right off the cow as I do. Mine were 526# steers and brought $801 in my pocket middle of October. No creep, just 1 round of shots and cut.

The bigger guys that backgrounded their steers from Oct to last week sold their 750-1000# steers for $900-1150. Nobody seen corn going to $5 but it did. Most them guys creep, 2 rounds shots, got cattle to feed and doctor for 3 more months. I don't seen any money made in backgrounding them.
 

gcreekrch

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Up here in my country where most beef guys got enough crops and many are retired dairy farmers I'd say 70% background their calves. 30% sell right off the cow as I do. Mine were 526# steers and brought $801 in my pocket middle of October. No creep, just 1 round of shots and cut.

The bigger guys that backgrounded their steers from Oct to last week sold their 750-1000# steers for $900-1150. Nobody seen corn going to $5 but it did. Most them guys creep, 2 rounds shots, got cattle to feed and doctor for 3 more months. I don't seen any money made in backgrounding them.
The feeders that bought those heavy cattle will do ok in not having to deal with weaning, sickness, chronic fulfilling their lifelong dreams and first vaccination costs.
We kept all our heifer calves for two years, custom fed them and sold at 750 lbs. The $20 profit is not worth the effort.
Selling your own at a premium and buying good calves back on a market low does make sense.
 

Brute 23

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Is there any money in keeping them that long? Considering you need to put 600 pounds on them you have to hold them a while. Only to get $350 more than one off the cow at half that weight.
I was making a joke because every always talks in gross numbers which is pointless. When you ask detailed questions on costs or weights or what ever they get tight lipped on you real fast.
 

tom4018

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I was making a joke because every always talks in gross numbers which is pointless. When you ask detailed questions on costs or weights or what ever they get tight lipped on you real fast.
Ok guess I am slow. Thought I was missing out on something.
 

Silver

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I was making a joke because every always talks in gross numbers which is pointless. When you ask detailed questions on costs or weights or what ever they get tight lipped on you real fast.
I got no problems sharing my info. I know some folks do think it's a big secret.
My steer calves averaged 680 lbs straight through straight off the cow. Roughly 210 days of age on average.
 

Brute 23

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I got no problems sharing my info. I know some folks do think it's a big secret.
My steer calves averaged 680 lbs straight through straight off the cow. Roughly 210 days of age on average.
$1.5ish on that size is pretty darn good. Is that contracted large volumes or thru a barn? What percentage of that's do you usually run in inputs?
 

Silver

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$1.5ish on that size is pretty darn good. It that contracted large volumes or thru a barn? What percentage of that's do you usually run in inputs?
I made the agreement to sell to a buyer beginning of September for mid October delivery. So I ended up being fortunate because at the time of delivery the markets where much lower than beginning of Sept.
Inputs are where it gets fuzzy. I think everybody calculates it differently. Should one include capital expenditures such as new buildings, include a fixed rent for paid off land, etc? The number I find best to use so as to be able to compare year over year expenses is on my tax forms. If I take my operating expenses and divide by the number of cows calved out in the spring it works out to a little over $600 CAD or a bit more ($472 USD) per head give or take. I don't have the numbers in front of me right now. This would of course go up if I factored in a cost for such things as I mentioned above.
 
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Bigfoot

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At what weight are you figuring on selling calves? This week 825 steers only did around $920 weaned while mid 5 weight brought $750 range. Unless you have real cheap ways to take them up to that weight I don't see the extra weight pays. Am I missing something?
Naw, your not missing something. That 800 pound and over weight has really been taking a beating. Which is strange, because commodioare on the rise. They don’t have to feed them as long. Seems like they’d be a better investment. Most of my weakness calves get sold in the high 600 pound range. Some probably make in to the low 7’s.
 

RDFF

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Yup, it definitely would go up if fixed overhead costs are included... things that you've given examples of, like "paid off land" and "buildings/facilities". If you exclude "land value" just because it's paid off, is that land really "free"? Of course not, ...at the very least, you've got taxes that you have to pay. But what's the value of the land TO YOU if instead, you rented it out to somebody else for pasture, or if it's got that potential, for crop ground, and then they did all the "maintenance/management" on it, and you just took the check? No idea what pasture/cropland rent runs in your area, or what your stocking rate ends up at... but all of that has to come into play. For sure, you at least need to apply THAT value against what you "made"... cause you didn't really "make" that portion on the cattle operation, THAT was made on the land investment. Still in your pocket, I agree. But it wasn't made on the cattle operation. If you apply THAT value as "land costs", and the value of the use of your paid off buildings that are used to support the cattle operation against the cattle operation, THEN you'll know where are you at.

Anything less means that all that other "paid off stuff" that's not being accounted for is in reality "subsidizing" the bottom line of the cattle operation. THAT'S how we end up with plenty of cattle (supply) that cattlemen have been willing to raise, and SELL, at a value LOWER than it can be done for. As long as we're willing to keep on not including ALL of our real costs, the supply of cattle at a "losing money on 'em" price will continue to be there. What other business in the real world would do this? You can bet that every supplier you purchase things from includes all of their costs in the bottom line, and refuses to sell it to you for less than their true cost of production.
 

Silver

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Yup, it definitely would go up if fixed overhead costs are included... things that you've given examples of, like "paid off land" and "buildings/facilities". If you exclude "land value" just because it's paid off, is that land really "free"? Of course not, ...at the very least, you've got taxes that you have to pay. But what's the value of the land TO YOU if instead, you rented it out to somebody else for pasture, or if it's got that potential, for crop ground, and then they did all the "maintenance/management" on it, and you just took the check? No idea what pasture/cropland rent runs in your area, or what your stocking rate ends up at... but all of that has to come into play. For sure, you at least need to apply THAT value against what you "made"... cause you didn't really "make" that portion on the cattle operation, THAT was made on the land investment. Still in your pocket, I agree. But it wasn't made on the cattle operation. If you apply THAT value as "land costs", and the value of the use of your paid off buildings that are used to support the cattle operation against the cattle operation, THEN you'll know where are you at.

Anything less means that all that other "paid off stuff" that's not being accounted for is in reality "subsidizing" the bottom line of the cattle operation. THAT'S how we end up with plenty of cattle (supply) that cattlemen have been willing to raise, and SELL, at a value LOWER than it can be done for. As long as we're willing to keep on not including ALL of our real costs, the supply of cattle at a "losing money on 'em" price will continue to be there. What other business in the real world would do this? You can bet that every supplier you purchase things from includes all of their costs in the bottom line, and refuses to sell it to you for less than their true cost of production.
Which is exactly my point.
However, this operation is a business that stands on it's own two feet without outside income. If it wasn't profitable more years than not we would be out of business. Every business has operating costs and capital expenditures. And while these are two different things they are fully financed by the operation. We could argue all day long as to weather a capital expense such as a new salt shed should have it's costs amortized over the life of the shed or be expensed directly against this years calf crop.
Figures lie and liars figure, so no two of us on this board are going to look at the same set of numbers and derive the same set of answers.
 

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