Cow cost per head....2020

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RDFF

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That is exactly my point. And if that trend continues, there will eventually be nothing left but tenant farmers, and wealthy investor landowners. All the tenant farmers will be competing heavily for land they will never have an opportunity to buy. And they will be relegated to "peasant class", growing their commodities for less than they cost to produce, because they will have no ability to leverage their production in any meaningful way. This is a trend that started a long time ago, but one that has become much accelerated in the last 20-30 years, where the balance of physical work based lifestyles (manufacturing, farming, transportation) has been exchanged for a computer traded investment based lifestyle. A much higher percentage of our GDP is now based in "trade" and "high tech"... we've shipped most of the manufacturing, and much of the VALUE of farming even, overseas.

In our "investments" we now trust for our daily bread, for those with financial prowess. Not so much in God, and in daily hard work to accomplish it. There's no limitation on how much one individual can accomplish with "investment income", but there IS, if your "daily bread" is dependent upon "individual physical laboring". And when that happens, those with "non-labor intensive" wealth are able to create a peasant state for all the others, simply by being "philanthropic".... thereby creating dependency upon THEM for their well being. "You'll be fine, they tell the rest, because I will take care of you... I will give you 'handouts'... i.e.: charity... welfare. And then you will be happy and well off enough!"

Can't you see how much better off the society as a whole would be WITHOUT the "subsidy crutches", but with real opportunity for reward and realistic compensation for real physical labor instead? Subsidies become a very effective method of trapping those receiving them into dependency upon them, and into a meager subsistence, living... continuing to produce essential commodities even the wealthy must have... but producing them at a loss, which will then be made up through "subsidies" given in amount as the wealthy deem acceptable, ...just enough to keep the peasants "producing" them.

One thing that is certain... land is a limited resource. They aren't making more of it, and the population WILL continue to rise, therefore, land space becomes more and more in demand.
 

SBMF 2015

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Corn stubble is good feed in late fall and early winter. By January/February, most of the good stuff is either eaten or rotting away, and all that's left is the stalk. Add in the increasing energy requirements of late gestation cows and a prolonged cold snap - boom - they'll start dropping.
My cows winter and calve on stalks. But they also get good hay, corn silage, and supplemental protein, and mineral. It's just a good place to keep them when it thaws in the spring. They aren't tearing up my pastures that way, and they are closer to the barn & calving pen if someone has a problem.
 
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rjbovine

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If were truly adding all costs with a cow/calf operation . How would you show a + net return ? My question is how would you figure hay sales and Gov. Payments . Is it income from the cows ? If you didn't have cows would you need equipment to bale hay. If you bought all hay fed, less equipment needs. Its a two edged sword for me. I know i could buy hay cheaper. I sure wish I had the answers . rj
 

Stocker Steve

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There are some people who make good money running commodity cattle. Been there till I started buying land. Some common elements are:

1) rent at least part of their land base
2) buy stored feed
3) buy mismanaged calves or aged cows
 

Stocker Steve

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More land is broken up for cultivation every year. Most of this land is in South America and Africa. Every time there is a spike in grain prices - - there is a spike in the amount of cultivated land. Will Rogers did not get that.
 

Lee VanRoss

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What is so hard about staying on topic which is Cow cost per head - 2020 ? I realize corn stalks are good for winter grazing but what does that
have to do with the subject at hand? Same goes for where you keep your cows in the spring. Is it too much ask that you respond to the question
instead of thinking about what you are going to extrapolate on next??
 

Little Joe

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I've often wondered if I would be more profitable buying thin, SS or BM cows with calves at side in spring, sell cows open in fall in better condition. Retain all the calves and run on stockpiled fescue through winter, keep the number I want to finish out and direct market and sell the rest at pre-vac sale early spring as long weaned and turn around and start the process over. What would be the down side to an operation like that?
 

Lee VanRoss

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From my point of view the main fly in the ointment in calculating cow cost per head is the continuing devaluation of the dollar.
As an illustration around 2015 as a result of high feed grain prices and the sell off of cattle the market responded by climbing to unprecedented levels.
Now as the market is returning to former levels we may be receiving the same or even more than prior to the boom years but the dollars received
have shrunk in buying power. As to cow cost per head per year unless you have other income coming in then it would stand that any expense should
be charged against the cow. This would include every thing from appliances to utilities and x y z and all that entails.. I would agree one should not
charge the cattle for expenses in baling hay to sell off farm. That should be a separate entity. I expect little or no agreement in this analysis but
as it stands we as individuals are underestimating our operating costs when it comes to the cost of a cow. I see and hear numbers in the 4 and 5
hundred dollars per year. I would submit the cost of keeping a cow to be more in the 8 to 9 hundred dollar range if that is the only thing keeping
the lights on and gas in the pickup.
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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If you want to know if just the cows are making you money, you need to separate the hay expenses between fed gas and sold hay. But, if you want to know if your farming operation is profitable, the hay income (and expense) should be used.
 

Rydero

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Everything should count but...some expenses aren't single year expenses. If you buy something you'll have for 20 years it shouldn't really go all against one year's calf crop.

For simplicity sake I look at some things like hay expenses as a seperate enterprise, build a small profit into it, then when calculating costs for cattle I look at the hay as if I'm buying it. It's the best way I've found to know if I should be doing something like making hay. If I can buy it standing/rent land/seed land and put it up at a small profit and still get it cheaper than I can buy it then it's a good thing to do.

I look at yardage the same way. Tractor, me, small profit and fuel = so much per hour. That hourly rate incorporates all expenses for the tractor and is how I come up with my yardage and also goes into anything I do with the tractor (haying, land work etc).

If all these seperate enterprises can operate at a small profit the whole farm is sound and can withstand setbacks or the unexpected because I've "overcharged" myself a little all the way along. I can also objectively see if I should just buy hay, buy grain or chop silage etc.
 

rjbovine

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Mr. VanRoss , Your operating expense is inline with mine. In my area I see larger operations having more pasture or crop ground to keep cows foraging through the winter . Which equates to less hay to feed. My cow/calf operation and hay operation have to work together to make it work. Just wish there was more meat on the bone so to speak. rj
 

Stocker Steve

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Everything should count but...some expenses aren't single year expenses. If you buy something you'll have for 20 years it shouldn't really go all against one year's calf crop.
True, but, these long term or one time expenses occur every year if you are maintaining a somewhat traditional operation:

- most sets of buildings require maintenance annually. Perhaps 4 to 5 K... I know - - you should not have any sheds.
- used equipment line requires a major expense annually. Perhaps 3 to 6 K... I know - - you should not have any equipment.

So the point is that most people should not have cow calf as their centerpiece enterprise because commodity cows can not cover overhead very well.
 
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Rydero

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True, but, these long term or one time expenses occur every year if you are maintaining a somewhat traditional operation:

- most sets of buildings require maintenance annually. Perhaps 4 to 5 K... I know - - you should not have any sheds.
- used equipment line requires a major expense annually. Perhaps 3 to 6 K... I know - - you should not have any equipment.

So the point is that most people should not have cow calf as their centerpiece enterprise because commodity cows can not cover overhead very well.
The equipment I addressed. The hourly rate you "charge yourself" needs to recoup all expenses for the year including repairs. If you're not in the $75-$125/hr range you're not being honest with yourself and you probably can't buy anything ever.

I really don't have much for building maintenance so I'm not sure how I'd factor it in - which is probably why I don't have (can't justify it so I don't do it). If you have some way to find value and cost it back to the cows then it'll work.

Some long term things like fencing I set a budget for. Budget comes from what it would cost to rent pasture from someone else. X pairs @ $100 = $Y. - property tax - 15% cushion = fencing budget. That's how much fencing I can do. You'll notice no capital cost to buy pasture land - that's why I don't buy pasture land that can't be converted into something else anymore. Can't justify it - cheaper to rent pasture = don't do it anymore.

Maybe you're right most people shouldn't do cow calf as a centerpiece because it's a low margin business and they're doing it small scale on expensive land. The cattle business is meant to be high volume on cheap land. Someone with paid for cattle, land and equipment can bend the rules and exist but that's not expandable. Or you can subsidise but it doesn't take long to expand beyond what most can/will subsidise. I'm not sure what the small scale guys can switch to that'll keep them in land and tractors beyond Wagyu to restaurants and csas to well to do city dwellers though.

Sorry for the offensive nature of this post.
 

Stocker Steve

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I'm not sure what the small scale guys can switch to that'll keep them in land and tractors beyond Wagyu to restaurants and csas to well to do city dwellers though.
2) Other premium markets like seed stock.
3) Seasonal spring summer herd to minimize OH and hay usage.
4) Custom grazing contracts to increase ROI.
5) Cattle jockey to increase turnover.
6)

The point here is most paths to profit success involve more than focusing on direct costs.
 

Rydero

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2) Other premium markets like seed stock.
3) Seasonal spring summer herd to minimize OH and hay usage.
4) Custom grazing contracts to increase ROI.
5) Cattle jockey to increase turnover.
6)

The point here is most paths to profit success involve more than focusing on direct costs.
It never hurts though. It's my understanding that low cost producers do better in all market conditions and on average as well.

Some of what you describe as options I view as seperate enterprises. If we're talking about cow cost/head volume and cost of production are extremely important. If the umbrella is more farm profitability or $/acre productivity yes there's options. I've tried several (pasture pigs, meat goats, goat breeding stock, custom grazing) and yes some are premium markets but they have their own costs associated with them too. None worked terribly well possibly because my time was divided but also it involved hitting a ceiling and needing to make capital expenditures I didn't want to make because the business didn't justify them or would require fully committing to make work. Moral of the story in my case is can I make $ selling pork raised in old pens I used to have goats in for a ridiculous price yes. Scale it up. Now I need grain bins, grain suppliers, a truck, an auger, a mix mill, different feeders etc. and at the end of the day I don't want to be a pig farmer, I want to be a cattle farmer. I strive to make the business I want to be in work. I live where land is cheap and I had to scale up - I'm in the cow/calf business. There's other businesses to be in though.
 

Stocker Steve

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Did pastured broilers for a while but butchering got old. Tried to buy pasture pigs and/or sheep for my wife, but she was too smart to that. Surprised her recently with a new nurse cow. We will see how Daisy works out after she calves. So far she follows us around like a big dog.

Yes, they could be separate accounting enterprises, but they don't have to be operated separately. For example - - you could graze multiple enterprises in one herd. Unfortunately Daisy does not like this because the big black bitches are mean to her.
 
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Rydero

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Did pastured broilers for a while but butchering got old. Tried to buy pasture pigs and/or sheep for my wife, but she was too smart to that. Surprised her recently with a new nurse cow. We will see how Daisy works out after she calves. So far she follows us around like a big dog.

Yes, they could be separate accounting enterprises, but they don't have to be operated separately. For example - - you could graze multiple enterprises in one herd. Unfortunately Daisy does not like this because the big black bitches are mean to her.
There's definitely synergy to be capitalized on in certain cases. I'm just getting to the point where I'd be willing to share land or help out for a percentage than do it myself. I can only afford so many long term investments at one time regardless if they're profitable. Steve Kenyon says and maybe he stole it - there's a difference between finances and economics. There is.
 

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