The cost of farming

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rockridgecattle

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So the other night hubby decided nothing close enough to warrant a night check. We had hiefers bagging but it was his decision. I tried to talk him out of it but to no avail. Any ways in the morning early he checked on what few we had left. Well a hiefer has calved, way to big and the sack was over the face. He was pretty bummed. It took all i had not to say those 4 nasty words.
Any way when he came in he said that full night sleep cost him $500.00. It got me to thinking what the actual cost was.
First off here where we are Manitoba Ag costed the upkeep of a cow at $480.00 (remember this is from memory could be a few dollars up or down). This cost did not include depreciation of machinery, loan interest or paying yourself a wage.
As well, we operate on a cash basis. So the first calf that gets sold will not cover the previous year's expense, but it will cover the up and coming year's expense to keep that cow.

So the cost of a home grown hiefer raised to when she gives birth

Loss of selling the calf at weaning ------------------------------$500.00
Cost to keep that calf in our feedlot----------------------------$250.00
Cost to feed cow in the winter to her second year of age---$480.00
Cost of vaccinations (three rounds to pre breeding
including ivermec, all shots, scour guard, Preg check---------$ 30.00
Total cost before the first calf is shipped-----------------------$1260.00

Now this cost does include minor aliment treatments but if there is a c section, add that to the cost. As well if the hiefer or cow looses her first calf add another $980.00 to the loss to cover the no sale of the calf and the winter feed again.

When it costs $480.00 to keep a cow, and you get $500.00 to $550.00 for the calf, how do you recoup the cost of raising or buying a bred hiefer at $1100.00. In a cow's 10 or so years on the farm give or take a few, the profit will never cover the inital cost.
At what point does it become profitable to raise or buy hiefers in this volitile market.
It does not pay to keep a cow who lost her calf in hopes she breeds back next year. That cost will never be recouped.

I think i am becoming disillusioned (sp) with the life style i chose. Or maybe i am over thinking and just tired cause of the lack of sleep from calving, losing a calf and working off farm and the flooding....again. What ever it is, we, hubby and i, need to figure where we can cut more, and better yet prioritize what is important.
 

hillsdown

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I think you are at the end of calving and it finally has had it's toll on you . It had it's toll on hubby a while ago or he would not have foregone the late night check..(PS that is why I would usually ignore my hubby and go with my gut.. ;-) ;now I totally ignore what he says.. :lol2: )

[email protected] happens and the world is full of should of, could of's, and would of's had I just known. Beat yourself up and hubby as well and then move on because you still have girls and little ones relying on you to keep them healthy and safe..

That still sucks to lose a calf when it might have been prevented and it sure hurts the bank account as well but let's hope the rest of your girls pop out babies and are up and nursing asap..

I also hope you guys are not going to get this cold snap that is moving through, we went from +23c yesterday to +2c today with -8 tonight and tomorrow is a high of -2c.....YUCK ...

Good luck and hang in there RR it is almost over... :wave:
 
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rockridgecattle

rockridgecattle

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Thanks for the kick in the butt...really!

We have not seen temps like yours. Most of our nights have still been below freezing, we are happy to see the snow gone except in some of the dense bush. The calves are doing well, turned out in the bigger paddock to reduce and prevent scours. And three left to go to pop.
 

Aaron

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Based on your outline, I would say our cost of raising a heifer to calve at 30 months to be $913 on average. So we end up raising 95% of our replacements. To buy similar quality to ours, I have to spend about $1200 to $1300. Only if I have a lot of cash in my pocket and a bit of an ego do I go out and buy bred heifers.

Got into a discussion with a longtime purebred breeder and friend about it yesterday. He maintains that open yearling Hereford heifers are the best thing to buy if you are buying. You can pick up top quality straightbred commercial ones around here for about $600 a head.

If you think your having a bad calving year, I think I have you beat. Had one calve earlier today. Think the calf has severe brain damage (lack of oxygen during birth). If it dies by morning, our calf mortality this spring will be about 20%. :cowboy:
 

Stocker Steve

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Aaron":1b6tc9ar said:
Based on your outline, I would say our cost of raising a heifer to calve at 30 months to be $913 on average. So we end up raising 95% of our replacements. To buy similar quality to ours, I have to spend about $1200 to $1300. Only if I have a lot of cash in my pocket and a bit of an ego do I go out and buy bred heifers.

Got into a discussion with a longtime purebred breeder and friend about it yesterday. He maintains that open yearling Hereford heifers are the best thing to buy if you are buying. You can pick up top quality straightbred commercial ones around here for about $600 a head.

Heifer market seems pretty finicky here. Shiny blacks go for $1 a pound and it is down hill from there.

Why by open rather than bred heifers?
 

dun

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Unless you were there within maybe 5 minutes of the calf being born it wouldn;t had mattered anyway. Once the cord breaks there isn;t much time before the calf would suffocate anyway.
 

Alberta farmer

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I think if you own cattle you are going to lose some? As long as the losses don't get overly large you will do okay. Second guessing yourself is usually a waste of time.
I guess the trick of the trade is trying to raise an animal that stands a good chance of doing her job without your help? There will always be some that need help through no real fault of their own, without a doubt. We never check an animal at night. When the sun goes down the next time we see them is at daybreak.
On the heifer thing: The way I see it is this: By keeping my own heifers I know what her momma could do. I know how she was fed out. I know she isn't packing a bunch of strange bugs. I know she doesn"t have flighty genetics. If that costs me a few extra bucks then I will gladly pay them.
The economics of a cow/calf business are pretty slim most years. It really is a tough business, but at the end of the day you can get some satisfaction that you lived a productive life and actually produced something that was needed? Can you say that if you had some government job?
 

lavacarancher

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I've said this before but I guess I'm extremely lucky because I just don't have the problems you kind folks are discussing here. Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it's the breed. I don't know what the problem is for having all the calving issues.

I notice that most of you are from Canada (Hillsdown, Rockingridge, Aaron). Would the weather you folks have up there influence your bad luck with calving? Don't know what you could do about it but I was just curious. What breed cattle are you running? Is the breed noted for heavy birthweights or other calving issues?

I'm sorry you all are having such problems. I just hope it doesn't work its way South.
 
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rockridgecattle

rockridgecattle

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What you all have said has made sense. And yes we know livestock = dead stock. I was just tired and looking at the glass half empty last night. But i still maintain that keeping or buying hiefers in this market does not pay. There is no way to make that cost back. At this time though. If calf prices rise, which hopefully they will since both countries herds have shrunk considerably, it might become more profitable to retain or buy hiefers.
We have not lost that many or had a bad season this year. We lost one that did not turn proper, head back, we lost the one the other night and had two abortions this year due to hay mold. Not really bad works out to 6.5% death loss so far, three left to calve.
We were lucky though. We caught the hay quality before we had lost to much cow conditioning due to poor hay. I think that feeding heavy barley in the last trimester might be the reason the hiefer bull has thrown such large calves. Catch 22 on that one though. Cold long hard winter, crap hay, had to add barley to regain some condition. Otherwise we would have had more calving troubles and weak calves.
 

hillsdown

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I wonder what causes the cow to have such a thick sac. I had one this year that I would have lost for sure had I not been right there. Kayla had the first heifer no problem and was on her way with the second , I noticed she was pushing and the calf was just hanging there. The calf was still covered by the intact sac very odd, I tried to puncture it with my fingers but couldn't so I had to use my hay knife and slice it open. I thought the calf was dead until she opened her eyes. I reached in the cow and untwisted the little ones back legs and out she slid..If it would have happened in the middle of the night or any other time that I was not around I would have not had a second live calf. I can chalk that one up to dumb luck and a guardian angle; experience and know how had no play in this one at all, because I don't care what breed you have or where you live the same situation could happen to you.

Same with your scenario RR, not much you could have done unless you were standing right there when the calf came out and we all know that is physically impossible to be there for each and everyone with the amount of cattle you have and it being only the two of you, unless you both clone yourselves many times..

I hope today you are feeling a little better. :)

As for my calving season I will let you all know how it went at weening..I don't want to jinx myself. ;-)
 

bigbull338

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sometimes the sacks wont break before the calf hitts the ground.an thats sad esp when you decide not todo a nite check.if we have some close to calving we might check them in the evening.esp if its a heifer ready to calve.i lost a bull calf out of a reg cow last year.an i fogure the loss cost me $500.if it had of been a heifer calf the loss wouldve been $800 to $1000.
 

Aaron

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lavacarancher":39wukq6e said:
I've said this before but I guess I'm extremely lucky because I just don't have the problems you kind folks are discussing here. Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it's the breed. I don't know what the problem is for having all the calving issues.

I notice that most of you are from Canada (Hillsdown, Rockingridge, Aaron). Would the weather you folks have up there influence your bad luck with calving? Don't know what you could do about it but I was just curious. What breed cattle are you running? Is the breed noted for heavy birthweights or other calving issues?

I'm sorry you all are having such problems. I just hope it doesn't work its way South.

Purebred and Straightbred Herefords. Some bigger birthweights (Angus people run away screaming), but cows with big enough pelvises to handle them plus extra room. If seen 1300 lb cows pop out 150-160 lb calves and 1600 lb cows die having a 130 lb calf (not us, but people I know). If everything is presented properly, it all comes down to the pelvis area.

Even though we are not neighbours, or even in the same province, RR and I had similar conditions in putting up hay last year. Rain continuously and then a wet fall to give the bales a good soaking. All adds up to rotten, moldy, crappy hay. RR fed barley. We didn't. Not taking anything away from RR (barley is cheap in the West), but if we babied our cows like that, we wouldn't waste our time on them at all...and it most likely wouldn't have made a big difference. As a result, we pay the price this year. Lots of years of 98-100% calf crops, so it has to bite us in the arse someday.

So the big reason we have problems up here is feed quality. If she ain't put up in prime condition and stored out of the elements, she can be a crap shoot each year when calving time comes. :cowboy:
 

CattleHand

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Aaron":8wwrpda6 said:
lavacarancher":8wwrpda6 said:
I've said this before but I guess I'm extremely lucky because I just don't have the problems you kind folks are discussing here. Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it's the breed. I don't know what the problem is for having all the calving issues.

I notice that most of you are from Canada (Hillsdown, Rockingridge, Aaron). Would the weather you folks have up there influence your bad luck with calving? Don't know what you could do about it but I was just curious. What breed cattle are you running? Is the breed noted for heavy birthweights or other calving issues?

I'm sorry you all are having such problems. I just hope it doesn't work its way South.

Purebred and Straightbred Herefords. Some bigger birthweights (Angus people run away screaming), but cows with big enough pelvises to handle them plus extra room. If seen 1300 lb cows pop out 150-160 lb calves and 1600 lb cows die having a 130 lb calf (not us, but people I know). If everything is presented properly, it all comes down to the pelvis area.

Even though we are not neighbours, or even in the same province, RR and I had similar conditions in putting up hay last year. Rain continuously and then a wet fall to give the bales a good soaking. All adds up to rotten, moldy, crappy hay. RR fed barley. We didn't. Not taking anything away from RR (barley is cheap in the West), but if we babied our cows like that, we wouldn't waste our time on them at all...and it most likely wouldn't have made a big difference. As a result, we pay the price this year. Lots of years of 98-100% calf crops, so it has to bite us in the arse someday.

So the big reason we have problems up here is feed quality. If she ain't put up in prime condition and stored out of the elements, she can be a crap shoot each year when calving time comes. :cowboy:

There was a post in teh Calving thread (maybe I can't remember) that either said colder winters cause for larger calves, having to do with nutrients passed from the cow to the calf while its developing or something along those lines. They even had an article from a University (I think it was K-State) stating their results. That could explain the difference in problems seen by the North and the South. And also what Aaron said, different breeds etc. etc.
 

Horseless

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Rockridge,
I could argue with your figures either way a little and still come up with a similiar total figure. Bottom line it is very expensive to raise or buy replacements. This has been argued many times on these sites. My thoughts are that these females need to stay in your herd for a long time to pay off and still hope to get some salvage value out of her when she goes. It's like with everything, when there is a good opportunity, you better be ready to jump on it. Whether it is feed or animals. I have found very good deals on females and jumped at it. But also paid good money for females, and after they calved realized they were crap. Had to cull them early in their life. I know my home raised females have a lot better chance of staying in my herd for a longer time than the ones I buy. But need to leave the door open for a good opportunity, if its out there. Several times over the last 10 years, I have received salvage value for older cows close to what I had invested in them when they were heifers ten years earlier. Its going to darn hard to do that with ones that I replaced them with. But who knows :???: :nod:
 

Horseless

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rockridgecattle":36ingcgg said:
When it costs $480.00 to keep a cow, and you get $500.00 to $550.00 for the calf, how do you recoup the cost of raising or buying a bred hiefer at $1100.00. In a cow's 10 or so years on the farm give or take a few, the profit will never cover the inital cost.
At what point does it become profitable to raise or buy hiefers in this volitile market.
It does not pay to keep a cow who lost her calf in hopes she breeds back next year. That cost will never be recouped.

The calf is dead you have lost that money! That's ranching. If you sell her, most likely you won't get much for her. Then you may have to buy one to replace her. Since it was no fault of her own, I would consider keeping her. IF you don't let her get to fat. If you had few others like that, run them separatly and manage them separatly. Could sell them as bred in the fall also, if they have a clean bill of health.
 

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