Cost Per Day for a Cow

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WCBR1025
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Cost Per Day for a Cow

Postby WCBR1025 » Sun Sep 23, 2018 11:51 am

Hello all,
I’m looking at purchasing some heifers to expand my operation and am currently trying to budget what a cow cost over her lifetime vs what her weaned calves will bring over her lifetime. Basically it’s a lifetime budget of a cow. So to figure the budget accurately I need to come up with a cost per day per cow, I know it depends a lot on individual operations and feedstufs. I don’t expect somebody running 1000 head in the West to have the same amount per day as somebody running 50 head here in the East.

With my rough figuring I came up with around $1 per cow per day and that’s figuring everything (hay, grain, fertilizer, shots, fuel, fencing, hauling, tractor work, pasture lease and upkeep, etc) that I could think of.

So my question is what do you all spend per cow per day?
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5S Cattle
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Re: Cost Per Day for a Cow

Postby 5S Cattle » Sun Sep 23, 2018 12:56 pm

:D Pretty sure cb has it figured to the penny. I get by cheaper than most because all my cattle are at work. Interested in the responses
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Re: Cost Per Day for a Cow

Postby bball » Sun Sep 23, 2018 1:00 pm

I have skinned mine down to the $1.25....$1.30 range. There's many a hidden cost and expense in maintaining cow/calf operation. Liability insurance for your operation, vehicle insurance, taxes on the property you own and run the cows on, trailer tires, grain/hay price fluctuations, etc.
From what I have gathered, some of the best folks who live in the heart of 'cattle country' struggle to keep things at a buck a day in our current economic climate.
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Re: Cost Per Day for a Cow

Postby Stocker Steve » Sun Sep 23, 2018 3:51 pm

1) Depends a lot on location. USDA publishes some truly scary numbers by region. SE is usually the lowest cost for cow/calf.

2) Depends a lot on cow size. University of Kentucky has a good spreadsheet to use, which includes size for calculating consumption and cull values.

3) Depends a lot on how good you are at accounting. It should include both direct costs (like most of the items you listed) and indirect or overhead costs (which you missed in some cases). Search for University of Minnesota FINBIN data base, and run a "benchmark" report for your state or region.

4) Depends alot on if you are trying to make a profit. Many don't, and total costs over $2 per day are often the result.
Last edited by Stocker Steve on Sun Sep 23, 2018 5:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cost Per Day for a Cow

Postby cotton1 » Sun Sep 23, 2018 5:20 pm

$300-$400 a year per cow is not too far out of line from my experience.
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Re: Cost Per Day for a Cow

Postby snoopdog » Sun Sep 23, 2018 7:19 pm

1.00 to 1.35 if you want to make money , preferably to the lower side. But you have to love it , and good luck!
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Re: Cost Per Day for a Cow

Postby Caustic Burno » Sun Sep 23, 2018 7:46 pm

5S Cattle wrote::D Pretty sure cb has it figured to the penny. I get by cheaper than most because all my cattle are at work. Interested in the responses


1.37 last year. They can still pay their way at a 1.50 with today’s prices.
It’s not pretty, they are not on welfare at those inputs.
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Re: Cost Per Day for a Cow

Postby farmerjan » Sun Sep 23, 2018 8:07 pm

We figure between $450 -500 per year per cow MINIMUM... like CB it comes to 1.36/day. But with fuel prices creeping up it is closer to that 1.50 a day. We lease nearly all our ground, and do as much rotational grazing on the places that we can that have fencing and WATER. This year the cattle have had exceptional grazing, making hay has been the problem with all the rain. But in this area, our cattle will not bring what they seem to in other areas due to expensive trucking costs. We are seeing prices in the 1.25 to 1.65 for steers, and 1.20 to 1.40 for heifers in the 4-6 wts.
We have seen some pasture rents go up and have lost 2 places where we made hay although we are not upset by either one as they were further travel and steep ground. We are considering giving up another place as she wants to go up again, and we cannot justify the increased cost and still do the bushhogging and weed spraying we have done in the pastures and the hay field. They all want more money AND the land use tax break, but most don't want any of their own money to be put back into it.
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Re: Cost Per Day for a Cow

Postby Coosh71 » Sun Sep 23, 2018 8:38 pm

$294.66 last year. Includes all feed/minerl costs, truck fuel/maintenance, meds, windmill work, misc fence materials and basic supplies and taxes/ins. We own the land so no leases.
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Re: Cost Per Day for a Cow

Postby Coosh71 » Sun Sep 23, 2018 8:40 pm

Sorry and hay costs is included
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Re: Cost Per Day for a Cow

Postby True Grit Farms » Sun Sep 23, 2018 9:08 pm

We figure about $100 less than we made on the cows for the year. I can't see how it's possible to keep track of cost per cow per day when you have more going on than just cattle on the same piece of property. I think it's impossible myself, just trying to figure fuel cost in a vehicle to check cows isn't practical. Most times when we're heading to or from town we ride by and check cows or hay fields.
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Re: Cost Per Day for a Cow

Postby WCBR1025 » Sun Sep 23, 2018 9:45 pm

Thanks for the replies everyone, it looks like $1-$1.50 per day is the most common range. With that being said let me run a basic budget by y’all and you can tell me how far off I am.

Say for easy math we buy 10 bred heifers that are 1.5 years old at the time of purchase. The heifers cost $1200/hd and they are due to calve at 2 years old. The plan is to keep them till around 10 years of age on average, some might be culled at 8 years and some might stay till 12 years.

The cattle have a calf a 2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 for a total of 9 calves per cow.

9 calves sold at 500lb weaning weight =4500 lbs of calf over the lifetime of the cow.

4500 lbs x $1.40/lb (approximate 10 year average price here) = $6300
The cow weighs 1200 at culling and brings .60 cents per pound = $720

So the total INCOME the cow has produced is $7020 now let’s look at expenses.

The heifer cost $1200 at purchase and she’s kept 9 years or 3285 days.
If we use an average of 1.25 per day that comes to 3285x1.25=$4106
$4106 + the cost of the heifer 4106+1200=$5306 total expenses

So if we take total income ($7020) and subtract total expenses ($5306) we come up with a net profit of $1714 over the cows lifetime.

Now we go back to the group of 10 heifers we started with and figure they produce 90 calves in their lifetime and at a 4% calving loss were left with 86 calves.

86x500= 43000 lbs x $1.40/lb =$60200 + $7200 for the cull cows

So total income over the group is $67400

Expenses for the group are 10 cows x 365 days x 9 years =32850 “cow days”

32850 x $1.25 per day =$41063

$41063 + $12000 for the cost of the heifers is $53063 total cost.

So income ($67400) minus expenses ($53063) is $14338 over the “life” of 10 heifers.

That adds up to $1593 per year profit or $159 profit per cow per year.

I know that’s a lot of variables and I’m planning on y’all to tell me how far off I am on this figuring.

Now I think I’m gonna go have a cold beer to cool my brain off after all that calculating :D
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Re: Cost Per Day for a Cow

Postby Stocker Steve » Sun Sep 23, 2018 10:00 pm

Cost of replacements is a big one. Rerun with 90% of heifers settling, and lasting 3 calves, average.
Rerun with more realistic death losses, for both cows & calves.
And so on. You are on the edge of an expensive biology lesson.
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Re: Cost Per Day for a Cow

Postby holm25 » Mon Sep 24, 2018 5:56 am

Some cows die. Some have to be culled at a very young age due to injuries. These are some things to consider.
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Re: Cost Per Day for a Cow

Postby Dave » Mon Sep 24, 2018 7:41 am

I use to figure I stayed under $1 a day for feed cost in the winter. The last winter feed cost was $1.43 a day. I had cheap pasture rents but that averaged out to about $0.45 per day. That works out to $0.94 cents a day just for feed cost alone.
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