Cost Per Day for a Cow

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Farm Fence Solutions
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Re: Cost Per Day for a Cow

Postby Farm Fence Solutions » Mon Sep 24, 2018 8:16 am

So my question is what do you all spend per cow per day?

All of it.
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farmerjan
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Re: Cost Per Day for a Cow

Postby farmerjan » Mon Sep 24, 2018 9:39 am

$1.60 per cow per day. Or it costs $575-580 per year per cow. That is allowing for boughts, solds, dieds, raising up replacement heifers, everything that has been thrown out here as indirect and direct costs. If a 500 lb calf doesn't average 1.50 for $750 return then I am basically working for nothing. My son said that if we got 1.70 lb for 500 lb calves we could actually make a little bit but anything below that we were just sitting in place or losing.
So a weaned calf has to return $750 with costs in the $600 range, so that is $150 per calf "profit" for the year. Takes 100 to make you $15,000 per year. Not a very good return for your time. That's why we are all a little bit crazy and have to love what we do or have no common sense and nothing better to do with our time. They maybe full time work, but they are still a "hobby" as far as payback goes.

One reason I have the nurse cows. Costs me closer to $700 year to keep the cow with extra feed to get more production. I used to figure less but feed has been creeping up so let's say closer to $1.90 to $2.00 per day. Sell at least 3 calves off her @ 400 lbs @ $1.00 lb due to them being dairy crosses. So I make $1200 off her, less the average cost of $100 per calf so actually make $900; keep her calf as replacement or say a value of $1300 total as her calf is dairy so not worth as much but I didn't have to outright buy it, costs more to raise that calf up to calving again due to the dairy type needing more concentrated feeding... but the potential of her to raise more calves will offset the added cost to get her to calving age. And if I breed her to beef, then her calf is a potential sale also. Or can be put into the beef herd as a replacement and she will usually raise a bang up calf due to the extra milk in the background.... But then pasture only for a dairy cow is tougher and they often don't hold the condition as well.....because they are putting more into the "milk making"....
Still isn't much payback for your time no matter how you figure/slice/ or dice it. The ag exemrtion on the taxes is figured in, but it does help on taxes.....and gives you a reason to have to get up and get going on mornings you really don't feel like it.
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Re: Cost Per Day for a Cow

Postby Coosh71 » Tue Sep 25, 2018 6:37 am

I dont think your math is off, but like has been mentioned it usually doesn't work out that way. I've seen/read that the avg cow stays in the herd only 3 years. Hard to pencil any chance of profit with that as a reality. We do far better in our operation than 3 years. I will cull a cow if she consistently breeds back last and calves aren't growers. I know the "live calf" think vs weaning weight, but feed costs are high and she's eating groceries daily that could be fed/grazed by another that's producing better calves. We have retained 10 and we have purchased 10. In 1 group after 4 years there's 6 remaining and in the other there's 9. We can do all the homework we want, but at the end of the day we cannot predict out 10 years on a heifers production. Also, we have had better retention luck out of buying a set of 3-5yr old bred cows. Good luck with whatever you do on this. Let us know...
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Re: Cost Per Day for a Cow

Postby ddd75 » Tue Sep 25, 2018 8:12 am

lol.. 3 years ??
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farmerjan
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Re: Cost Per Day for a Cow

Postby farmerjan » Tue Sep 25, 2018 9:43 am

We get more than 3 years average out of our cows. Maybe on some of the bought ones as we cull out the old ones or the ones that don't raise good calves. But on our own raised up heifers, I would say that the average is 10 years. Really. I have many 2008 models now, some in the spring calving group and a bunch in the fall calving group.
I guess I keep a different "set of books" so to speak on the boughts, because they are often not very high priced, we don't buy the "best ones" but the lower ends. Sometimes we hit a good batch, but sometimes we get some that will only raise that one calf and both will get sold in the fall. Often we buy some to take advantage of the spring/summer grass at rented places. And a few times we have raised a few nice heifers out of some old cows, and kept them. On average, we calve out 20-25 replacement heifers every year, but sold more heifers in 2013 & 2014 when prices were high. Of the last 2 groups we have culled only 1 each year, so still have 12 from 2014 and 2015. We went from 40 cows to 100 to 150 and up to 200. We have culled about 25-30 of the old, infirm, and not preg old cows this past year. Then bought about 20 to use all the grass we have. Most of them will only be here a lactation or 2.
The 2015's (16 fall born heifers calved in spring 2018) with calves on them now, will all get preg checked and I expect to have 90-95 % preg. There are 2 that have big whoppers of bull calves, and if they are open they will go in the next breeding group so will be 6 months behind. That will be their "free pass". Both were only 25 and 26 months at calving and we usually calve closer to 28-30 months. Both are out of good cows. Sure, some people feel that they should calve by 24 months, but for us 27-30 works better. We also do not do a lot of supplementing, so they grow a little slower. Hay and grass is the mainstay.

I have one heifer going into the breeding group that is the 4th generation.... still on the farm. The old cow is 13 or 14, I think, and she still does good. Teeth are short but she holds body condition. She will be here until something happens; not preg, legs start to give her trouble & doesn't get around, has a poor calf from not enough milk, doesn't hold her body condition, ...something.

We have bought several from a farm that regularly sells cows after 8 years old. We have gotten some nice cows, some nice calves out of them, kept a few heifers as replacements, and have often kept them 2-5 more years with no problems. They cost a bit more, but sometimes not.
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Re: Cost Per Day for a Cow

Postby snoopdog » Tue Sep 25, 2018 8:36 pm

Cows die, calves die, or aren't thrifty , the market doesn't cooperate , or there's a drought . Looks great on paper though ! be nice the torpedoes , full ahead ! Seriously , you have to love farming and the interaction with animals , and the earth to even begin to think about profit . If money is your only motivation , best look somewhere else .
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Re: Cost Per Day for a Cow

Postby WCBR1025 » Tue Sep 25, 2018 9:55 pm

Thanks everyone for the input, I’m not new to the cattle business and know that numbers work better on paper than in the pasture. I bought my first group of cows when I graduated high school in 2009 and have slowly been building a herd. It looks like I’m going to be able to rent some more pasture in the near future and I wanted to have a rough budget before I added to the herd. As far as age of cattle go I know in North Carolina we’re different sometimes but around here not many cows get culled before 10 years of age unless there is an injury, for most of the cow people around me if the cow can be bred and wean a calf she’s usually kept in the herd. I’m not saying that is the most profitable practice but it happens all the time here.
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Re: Cost Per Day for a Cow

Postby farmerjan » Sun Sep 30, 2018 10:36 pm

I think you have a pretty good handle on the costs etc. And since you have been doing this for nearly 10 years you know what can go wrong in most cases. Since you are not expecting to get rich over this, and have a fairly good grasp on what it takes, I say go for it and hope we see an uptick in the feeder markets in 2 years where it will show you some profits. Right now the cull cow price here has dropped to $.20 to $.35 and the very best are bringing $.40. It's bad. Feeders are in the 1.20 to 1.65 so that seems to be holding somewhat steady but we sure aren't getting rich.
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