Annual cow costs — the big three | TheFencePost.com – Fence Post

When beef producers look at annual cow costs and doing an economic analysis, three categories tend to make up the largest percentage of total costs: feed, labor/equipment and cow depreciation. Other expenses, such as breeding expense and veterinary costs, tend to be significantly less than the “Big Three.”

To conduct an economic analysis of a ranch, first break the ranch into enterprises to understand where value is being created and costs are occurring. Land ownership, hay production, cow-calf and replacement heifer development are four of the major enterprises on many ranches.

FEED



Including both grazed feed and harvested feed, 40-70 percent of annual cow costs fall into this category. If the ranch is owned, the cash cost for feed may be less; however, when conducting an economic analysis, grazed and harvested feed from owned land should be valued at market price. In other words, the cow-calf enterprise is asked to pay fair market value for the grass that is grazed and the hay that is fed. If the land is owned, the market value of the grass is counted as a return to land ownership.

The same goes for hay raised on the ranch. What is the market value for the same quality of hay if you were to sell it off the ranch? The cow-calf enterprise should be asked to pay that value to the hay enterprise. If the market value of the grass that cows graze or the hay they are fed is not being accurately accounted for, then it’s possible the cow-calf enterprise is being subsidized by other enterprises on the ranch.



LABOR/EQUIPMENT

When categorizing costs to the cowherd, labor and equipment can be lumped together as a single category because they often go hand-in-hand. Equipment is often purchased to reduce labor, and labor is needed to operate equipment. These two things together are also often identified as a fixed, or overhead, cost. Overhead costs are expenses that don’t change very much based on the number of cows in the herd. For example, if a rancher has 200 cows and leases a neighbor’s place and is now able to run an additional 100 cows, they probably are not going to buy another pickup, trailer, tractor, or ATV just because they added another 100 cows. The equipment they had to care for 200 cows is likely adequate to care for 300 cows.

Overhead costs related to labor/equipment tend to be the second-largest expense for the cow herd after feed. When a rancher is serious about trying to address annual cow costs, overhead expenses per cow unit is an area where there is often opportunity to improve. Increasing the number of cows per person/equipment or aggressively finding ways to reduce the labor/equipment needed to care for cows are two ways to address this expense.

COW DEPRECIATION

Cow depreciation is an economic cost that is often overlooked on many ranches. The costs associated with getting a bred heifer into the cowherd are often hidden because many ranchers raise their own replacement heifers. In an economic analysis, the heifer calf’s market value at weaning is identified and then all additional costs from weaning until she enters the herd as a bred female are accounted for.

A market value is placed on the heifer at weaning because that was value generated by the cow-calf enterprise. A market value is also placed on the bred heifer at the time she enters the cowherd because that value minus her weaning value was value generated from the replacement heifer development enterprise. The heifer calf could have been sold at weaning or she could have been sold after being developed as a bred heifer.

Knowing the economic cost of developing a replacement heifer can give insight into understanding where value is being created and where costs are occurring on the ranch. If the market value of a bred replacement heifer is less than what it costs the ranch to develop her, buying replacements may be a better option.

Cow depreciation expenses can be addressed three ways for a cow-calf enterprise.

1. Reduce the cost to get a cow into the herd.

2. Create and capture more value from a cow when she leaves the herd.

3. Find ways to increase the number of years that a cow is productive in the herd.

For many ranchers, creatively finding ways to reduce or even eliminate cow depreciation can be a significant way to reduce annual cow costs.

A quick and dirty way to calculate the cost of depreciation to a cow herd inventory that basically remains constant is to annually compare the market price of bred females entering the herd to the revenue being generated by cows leaving the herd. Don’t forget to include death loss when counting the cows that leave the herd. If bred heifers have a market value of $1,500 and cull cows leaving the herd have a value of $700, this is $800 of depreciation. If a cow is in the herd for an average of four years, this is a cost of $200 per year for cow depreciation.

As we close the year on 2020 and start 2021, now is a great time to evaluate all of the costs associated with the cow-calf enterprise. In particular, take a look at “The Big Three” of feed, labor/equipment and cow depreciation. Consider where there are opportunities to make changes that could improve profitability in the upcoming year and develop a plan to implement them.

If you would like to further develop your skill set in calculating cost of production for your own operation, we invite you to attend a two-day Unit Cost of Production Workshop on Feb. 3-4 in Valentinem Neb. In this hands-on workshop, participants will work through a ranch scenario and calculate unit cost of production for land, cow-calf, heifer development and hay enterprises on a ranch. Participants will receive access to Excel spreadsheet templates that can help analyze cost of production for their own operation. Nebraska Extension Educators will be available for follow-up after the workshops.

For more about this workshop, check beef.unl.edu:

https://beef.unl.edu/beefwatch/2021/unit-cost-production-workshop-valentine-nebraska-february-3-and-4.

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Scotland's New Fluffy Cow Cam Is the Best Thing You'll See All Day – Travel+Leisure

Scotland’s New Fluffy Cow Cam Is the Best Thing You’ll See All Day | Travel + Leisure

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Panhandle Perspectives: Annual cow costs – the big three – Nebraska Today

Lincoln, Neb. —When beef producers look at annual cow costs and doing an economic analysis, three categories tend to make up the largest percentage of total costs: feed, labor/equipment and cow depreciation. Other expenses, such as breeding expense and veterinary costs, tend to be significantly less than the “Big Three.”

To conduct an economic analysis of a ranch, first break the ranch into enterprises to understand where value is being created and costs are occurring. Land ownership, hay production, cow-calf and replacement heifer development are four of the major enterprises on many ranches.

Feed

Including both grazed feed and harvested feed, 40-70 percent of annual cow costs fall into this category.  If the ranch is owned, the cash cost for feed may be less; however, when conducting an economic analysis, grazed and harvested feed from owned land should be valued at market price. In other words, the cow-calf enterprise is asked to pay fair market value for the grass that is grazed and the hay that is fed.  If the land is owned, the market value of the grass is counted as a return to land ownership.

The same goes for hay raised on the ranch.  What is the market value for the same quality of hay if you were to sell it off the ranch?  The cow-calf enterprise should be asked to pay that value to the hay enterprise.  If the market value of the grass that cows graze or the hay they are fed is not being accurately accounted for, then it’s possible the cow-calf enterprise is being subsidized by other enterprises on the ranch.

Labor/Equipment

When categorizing costs to the cowherd, labor and equipment can be lumped together as a  single category because they often go hand-in-hand.  Equipment is often purchased to reduce labor, and labor is needed to operate equipment. These two things together are also often identified as a fixed, or overhead, cost. Overhead costs are expenses that don’t change very much based on the number of cows in the herd. For example, if a rancher has 200 cows and leases a neighbor’s place and is now able to run an addition 100 cows, they probably are not going to buy another pickup, trailer, tractor, or ATV just because they added another 100 cows.  The equipment they had to care for 200 cows is likely adequate to care for 300 cows.

Overhead costs related to labor/equipment tend to be the second-largest expense for the cow herd after feed.  When a rancher is serious about trying to address annual cow costs, overhead expenses per cow unit is an area where there is often opportunity to improve.  Increasing the number of cows per person/equipment or aggressively finding ways to reduce the labor/equipment needed to care for cows are two ways to address this expense.

Cow Depreciation

Cow depreciation is an economic cost that is often overlooked on many ranches. The costs associated with getting a bred heifer into the cowherd are often hidden because many ranchers raise their own replacement heifers. In an economic analysis, the heifer calf’s market value at weaning is identified and then all additional costs from weaning until she enters the herd as a bred female are accounted for.

A market value is placed on the heifer at weaning because that was value generated by the cow-calf enterprise.  A market value is also placed on the bred heifer at the time she enters the cowherd because that value minus her weaning value was value generated from the replacement heifer development enterprise.  The heifer calf could have been sold at weaning or she could have been sold after being developed as a bred heifer. 

Knowing the economic cost of developing a replacement heifer can give insight into understanding where value is being created and where costs are occurring on the ranch.  If the market value of a bred replacement heifer is less than what it costs the ranch to develop her, buying replacements may be a better option. 

Cow depreciation expenses can be addressed three ways for a cow-calf enterprise. 

1. Reduce the cost to get a cow into the herd. 

2. Create and capture more value from a cow when she leaves the herd.

3. Find ways to increase the number of years that a cow is productive in the herd. 

For many ranchers, creatively finding ways to reduce or even eliminate cow depreciation can be a significant way to reduce annual cow costs.

A quick and dirty way to calculate the cost of depreciation to a cow herd inventory that basically remains constant is to annually compare the market price of bred females entering the herd to the revenue being generated by cows leaving the herd.  Don’t forget to include death loss when counting the cows that leave the herd!  If bred heifers have a market value of $1,500 and cull cows leaving the herd have a value of $700, this is $800 of depreciation.  If a cow is in the herd for an average of four years, this is a cost of $200 per year for cow depreciation.

As we close the year on 2020 and start 2021, now is a great time to evaluate all of the costs associated with the cow-calf enterprise.  In particular, take a look at “The Big Three” of feed, labor/equipment and cow depreciation.  Consider where there are opportunities to make changes that could improve profitability in the upcoming year and develop a plan to implement them.   

If you would like to further develop your skill set in calculating cost of production for your own operation, we invite you to attend a two-day Unit Cost of Production Workshop on February 3 and 4 in Valentine.  In this hands-on workshop, participants will work through a ranch scenario and calculate unit cost of production for land, cow-calf, heifer development and hay enterprises on a ranch.  Participants will receive access to Excel® spreadsheet templates that can help analyze cost of production for their own operation. Nebraska Extension Educators will be available for follow-up after the workshops.

For more about this workshop, check beef.unl.edu: https://beef.unl.edu/beefwatch/2021/unit-cost-production-workshop-valentine-nebraska-february-3-and-4

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Low conception rates in cow herds again an issue in South Dakota – Grand Forks Herald

The rate of open cows just in the south-central part of the state is running from 20% to 50%, depending on the operation, which is much higher than normal.

Cody Moore is a cattle producer and co-owner of Winner Livestock Auction. He says the poor breed back in the herds has been reflected in their sales the last couple of months, with more weigh-up cows being sold. He says it’s a trend they are finding at many of the sale barns in central and western South Dakota.

“I don’t know if it was because of the weather the last couple of years, which took a toll on the cows, but it seems like there’s a lot more open cows. Maybe a lot of people didn’t sell their older cows last year, but it seems like we’ve sure had a lot of weigh-ups in the last couple months.”

He thinks it may also be tied to more producers breeding heifers as he cites their heifer runs were much lighter than normal after the first part of 2020.

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Frank Volmer is also an owner at Winner Livestock Auction. He blames the poor conception rates on the cows being under more stress, tied to weather.

“I still think it goes back to two winters ago. We had a terrible tough winter and them cows just didn’t make it through in very good and then last summer we got pretty dry at the wrong time and so cattle were not in very good condition,” he says.

Moore concurs: “The last couple springs have been awful wet out in this country and I don’t know if that had a toll on them during the breeding season, then getting hot and it did get kind of dry out here in the later summer.”

Volmer says it also has to do with the fall feeding program cows have undergone the last couple of years. With the open weather, producers try to save on feed costs by having cows graze on lower quality cornstalks as long as they can. He says that is contributing to their poor body condition as they go into the breeding season.

“If the cows go downhill of course they don’t breed as well, and they don’t raise their calf as well. Now days, the combines we have are so good that they don’t leave much corn behind. So, I feel a person has to mange their cornstalks a lot more now than they used to have to,” he says.

The tight margins in the cattle business the last few years has, according to Moore, forced more producers to put cows on stalks or pasture for a longer period of time. He says that is true even this year with abundant feed supplies in the Tripp County area.

“There’s hardly any cows getting fed in this area. There’s a lot of feed, a lot of cows you see out grazing either on cornstalks or they got any roughage that’s out there you know they’re still grazing them out as long as they can,” he says.

During the tough winters Moore also contends the hay probably wasn’t high enough in feed quality for the cows either. They needed more protein in the diet and so their body condition suffered.

Moore says other areas of cattle country that are being affected by the expanding drought are likely to see more open cows in the future. He says they have a shortage of feed in those areas, which is reflected in the large amounts of hay they’ve been selling at their auction the last two months and shipping to those areas. Producers in those areas are likely to see more open cows in the future. The end result will be a smaller calf inventory in 2021 and maybe beyond.

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Loose cows lead to high-speed pursuit up Highway 1 – Pacifica Tribune

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APTOS – Highway heifer havoc took place on Highway 1 in Santa Cruz County on Monday morning.

A little after 9:30 in the morning, California Highway Patrol responded to reports of cattle along Highway 1, between Freedom and Aptos. The band of bovines was seen running northbound along the grassy median.

“It’s a large animal so we had to take it seriously. If a car were to hit that animal, it could cause serious injury or death,” said California Highway Patrol Spokesman Sam Courtney. “We had to close the freeway for a while in case they wandered out on to the freeway,” Courtney said. “That would be a pretty serious accident, hitting a cow.”

Lane closures began at 9:44 a.m. and lasted a little more than an hour. Drivers experienced fluctuation between single lane to full highway closures as the cows wandered. People always ask why the chicken crossed the road, but ignore the motivations of the cow. Perhaps the grass is always greener on the other side of the median.

Officials were able to fully reopen the highway at 10:56 a.m., according to Courtney.

“I think there was a total of three,” Courtney said. “It took some time to get those corralled.”

The cows were safely wrangled by their owner, and returned home.

However, the excitement wasn’t over. California Highway Patrol officers engaged in a high-speed pursuit northbound up Highway 1. Amidst the cow-motion, officers spotted a driver in a Toyota 4Runner attempting to pass other vehicles via the shoulder of the road.

Officers engaged in pursuit and determined that the vehicle was previously reported stolen. The chase reached speeds up to 91 mph. The driver did not maintain the speed as the pursuit approached the city. Once the pursuit was taken off of the highway, the driver slowed to speeds as low as 5 mph at some points, according to Courtney.

“Once we got off the freeway, he slowed way down,” he said. “So slow we thought he was about to stop a couple times.”

The driver then turned northbound up Highway 9, where California Highway Patrol continued the chase. The pursuit lasted more than 50 minutes and stretched over 26 miles, according to Courtney. However, officers could have chased the vehicle until the cows came home if it weren’t for the help of spike strips.

California Highway Patrol finally stopped the vehicle in Boulder Creek at Highway 9 and River Street. Officers arrested the man and identified him as Felipe Albarran, 30, from Santa Cruz. Albarran was arrested on suspicion of auto theft, driving under the influence, evading and driving unlicensed.

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Loose cows lead to high-speed pursuit up Highway 1 – Santa Cruz Sentinel

APTOS – Highway heifer havoc took place on Highway 1 in Santa Cruz County on Monday morning.

A little after 9:30 in the morning, California Highway Patrol responded to reports of cattle along Highway 1, between Freedom and Aptos. The band of bovines was seen running northbound along the grassy median.

“It’s a large animal so we had to take it seriously. If a car were to hit that animal, it could cause serious injury or death,” said California Highway Patrol Spokesman Sam Courtney. “We had to close the freeway for a while in case they wandered out on to the freeway,” Courtney said. “That would be a pretty serious accident, hitting a cow.”

Lane closures began at 9:44 a.m. and lasted a little more than an hour. Drivers experienced fluctuation between single lane to full highway closures as the cows wandered. People always ask why the chicken crossed the road, but ignore the motivations of the cow. Perhaps the grass is always greener on the other side of the median.

Officials were able to fully reopen the highway at 10:56 a.m., according to Courtney.

“I think there was a total of three,” Courtney said. “It took some time to get those corralled.”

The cows were safely wrangled by their owner, and returned home.

However, the excitement wasn’t over. California Highway Patrol officers engaged in a high-speed pursuit northbound up Highway 1. Amidst the cow-motion, officers spotted a driver in a Toyota 4Runner attempting to pass other vehicles via the shoulder of the road.

Officers engaged in pursuit and determined that the vehicle was previously reported stolen. The chase reached speeds up to 91 mph. The driver did not maintain the speed as the pursuit approached the city. Once the pursuit was taken off of the highway, the driver slowed to speeds as low as 5 mph at some points, according to Courtney.

“Once we got off the freeway, he slowed way down,” he said. “So slow we thought he was about to stop a couple times.”

The driver then turned northbound up Highway 9, where California Highway Patrol continued the chase. The pursuit lasted more than 50 minutes and stretched over 26 miles, according to Courtney. However, officers could have chased the vehicle until the cows came home if it weren’t for the help of spike strips.

California Highway Patrol finally stopped the vehicle in Boulder Creek at Highway 9 and River Street. Officers arrested the man and identified him as Felipe Albarran, 30, from Santa Cruz. Albarran was arrested on suspicion of auto theft, driving under the influence, evading and driving unlicensed.

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Before desi cow exam, Indians should study how to not kill dolphins and elephants for fun – ThePrint

A screengrab from the viral video | Twitter
A screengrab from the viral video | Twitter

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Indian students will soon sit for an exam that will test their knowledge on desi cows and also ‘boost awareness’ about indigineous bovines. But can we also have an exam on how to protect dolphins — our national aquatic animal — in light of the disturbing video that has surfaced recently? Or how to not put explosives in fruits that elephants eat, or not to throw a puppy off a rooftop?

In India, it seems, some animals are more important and worth protecting than others.

The shocking video that went viral on social media Friday showed a Gangetic dolphin, an endangered species, being brutally axed to death by a group of men in Uttar Pradesh. Police have so far arrested three men, only after the video went viral. No surprise there! It always takes a viral video or a pregnancy of an animal (read elephant) to jolt authorities into action.

These acts of bestiality are not systemic meat industry crimes that are invisibilised, which too are also concerning, but they’re acts seemingly committed with no real motive, or sometimes just for fun — which makes it even more scary.

Such incidents of animal cruelty happen everywhere in India, and very frequently, but how many of them trigger outrage or ensure action? Very few.

India is truly a land of dichotomy — where we mark our respect to animals (read lions, cows, rats, owls, swans, monkeys, snakes, and many more) in temples as ‘vahanas’ (vehicles) of deities, but we don’t care two hoots about them in real life.


Also read: Would Indians still care about Safoora Zargar or Kerala elephant had they not been pregnant


Repeated cases of animal cruelty

A similar case of cruelty against Gangetic dolphins had come to light last year in March in West Bengal, where a video was uploaded on social media showing a group of men holding the species by its tail and torturing it.

Not just dolphins, stray dogs and leopards have also been a constant object of human savagery. Remember the incident in Assam in June, where a leopard was not just trapped and killed, but his carcass chopped off too?

In July last year, a dog was beaten with sticks and bricks, and dragged for a few kilometres from a motorcycle, hours after she gave birth to four puppies in Patiala. Then in October, a stray dog in Ludhiana was beaten to death, leading to the police filing an FIR against security guards of an upscale neighbourhood. In Hyderabad last month, a dog was beaten to death in an Army welfare housing colony. Surely, socio-economic status or education give no guarantee of ‘civilised’ behaviour.

These cases of animal abuse also reflect a deeply disturbing disrespect humans have for nature — a trait that shows no signs of going away.


Also read: Why India’s plan to reintroduce cheetahs can run into problems


Paltry penalty

The frequent cases of animal abuse in India also point towards weaknesses in our laws, which carry negligible fines.

The penalty for most serious forms of animal abuse range between Rs 10 and Rs 50, under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. The axe and sticks with which the Gangetic dolphin was killed in UP probably cost more than the penalty.

Such paltry penalties don’t just allow people to easily get away with animal abuse, but also show how we disregard the seriousness of their ill-treatment. Despite increasing incidents of violence, torture, and abuse against animals over the years, the penalty hasn’t yet been revised.

The law has other weaknesses too, as most of the offences under it are non-cognisable, which means the police cannot arrest the accused without a magistrate’s permission. This not only leads to police inaction, but also ends up ensuring that the perpetrators go unpunished.

Demand for stringent laws, harsher penalties, and their effective implementation is not just a must to guarantee welfare of animals and tackle cruelty towards them, but to also ensure that India doesn’t become a country where only cows are safe from human depravity.

Attack against muted and defenceless beings is probably the worst kind of violence, and laws alone cannot stop it. Unless our society’s attitude of contempt and indifference towards animals changes, such incidents aren’t going to stop.

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Brown spotted cows were on the loose and held up traffic outside Swallow School in Hartland – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Alec Johnson
 
| Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Only in Wisconsin will you see cows walking along the side of the road, it seems.

That’s what parents waiting to pick up their children from Swallow School in Hartland witnessed Jan. 7, as they saw brown spotted cows walking along County Road E.

The moment was picked up on video by Kelly Peiffer.

Hayden Hoppe, who is renting from the farmer who owns the cows, Clark Vilter, saw the cows out the window while washing dishes. Vilter’s farm is across the street from the school.

“I thought it was a deer at first, so I went out and checked. I’m like ‘oh, there’s two cows in rush-hour traffic,'” said Hoppe.

According to a post on Swallow School’s Facebook page that included Peiffer’s video, the cows backed up traffic near the busy intersection of County Road E and Waukesha K. 

The radios at the school went off with chatter regarding a few cows on the loose.

Superintendent Melissa Thompson and head custodian Jeff Grunwald sprang into action wearing safety vests and led the cows to safety, the post said.

Swallow principal Adam Scanlan took the lead to stop traffic and kept people safe until everything was under control. The post said parents were understanding and found it amusing as they realized the reason for the hold-up. 

“The motorists stayed calm and in place while some neighbors and school personnel worked together to get the cows back to safety and get the flow of traffic moo-ving again,” the post said.

Thompson joked, “Now I can add that to my resume, too! We work with everyone from 4K through grown cattle!”

“Only in Wisconsin would this be the reason for an end-of-the-day traffic jam at school,” Grunwald said on Facebook.

Vilter said the cows got loose after he forgot to secure the door on his barn.

“They’re not dumb animals. They found that spot and out they went,” Vilter said.

As a semi-retired dairy farmer, Vilter said it was nothing out of the ordinary. 

“It’s not something you want to happen, but if it does happen, it’s not that big a deal,” he said. “But for the people at the school and the person renting our house, that’s not something they have had the experience of handling.”

Contact Alec Johnson at (262) 875-9469 or alec.johnson@jrn.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlecJohnson12.

Our subscribers make this reporting possible. Please consider supporting local journalism by subscribing to the Journal Sentinel at jsonline.com/deal.

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