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The Cattle Connection

The cattlemen's connection to timely topics, current research, and profitable management strategies

Are you managing for Profit or Production?

Posted by Travis Meteer - Economics

Have you ever been at the diner when guys are talking cows? After everyone gives rain gauge reports, usually you start to hear weaning weights and how much they got per pound for the last set of calves.

The easiest things to measure are the numbers that come back on the salebarn ticket. That's what you always hear, because it's easy to measure. If these are the only numbers you measure in your cattle operation you may be in trouble.

Most all cattlemen know the outputs. They know how much money the calves and cull cows sold for. However, to truly evaluate the profitability of your cattle operation you must know the input costs. Feed costs represent over 60% of the total costs in a cow/calf operation (Miller et al. 2001). Since corn prices have risen, the percentage has grown to over 70% in many cases. Feed prices alone have canceled profits for the cow/calf producer and along with drought, helped slow herd expansion.

Even if corn gets "cheap" again it will likely not return to the lows that our genetics have been developed on. Thus, I recommend taking a strong look at your input costs. Focus on moderating and trimming your input costs to grow profit. It is time we measure what we put into the cow as stringently as we measure what comes out. The cattleman that manages for profit will know what goes into the cow... down to the dime.

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