Managing for Efficiency

Pharo Cattle Company

To compare profitability between the 1,000 pound cow and the 1,440 pound cow I pulled up market reports from salebarns (3/10/2016) in Colorado, Kansas and Wyoming. For the 1,000 pound cow and a wean weight of 500 pounds I averaged prices of steer calves from 485 to 515 pound range which averaged 2.07 and X 500 =$1,035 per head.

For the 1,400 pound cow I averaged prices from 575 to 600 pounds and for a 588 pound calf it was 2.00 and X 588 was $1,176. The big calves dollared out at $141 more per head.

Now forage cost per year is added in from post No 3. Beginning with the 1,400 pound cows, their total forage cost, $549.58 for 100 head is $54,900. The 137 head of 1,000 pound cows with a forage cost of $400, is $40,000.

Beginning with the 100 big cows I figured 5 head death loss and 15 head for heifer replacement which at 20% leaves 80 head of calves to sell. 137 small cows at 20% is 109.6 which I will round down to 109 calves to sell.

To keep this simple we will magically make all calves steers. From above, the big cows’ calves were worth $1,176 per head with 80 at $94,080. The smaller calves were $1,035 per head X 109 = $112,815. This calculation shows that $112,815 minus $92,904 = $19,911 more dollars for the small cows. Not looking good for the big cows and it isn’t over. This is the gross. What about forage cost?

Big cows forage was $54,900. Subtracting this from their gross of 94,080 = $39,180. Small cow forage was $40,000. Subtracting this from 1122,815 = $72,815. Now for the grand total, 72,815 – 38,004 = 34,111 additional dollars for the small cows.

Ignoring cull cow sales, and figuring all the calves as the same sex and not including all costs, simplifies the calculating while giving the same basic result which is that smaller, low milk production cows, raising smaller calves, are worth more per pound and more efficient converters of forage to profit.

Cow efficiency and resulting costs and profit must be determined on a per acre basis with the number of animals at a scale large enough to jar the reader into reviewing their own operations.

The value of more small, efficient cows, becomes apparent with a per acre assessment.

Wisconsin researchers (Davis et all., 1983) have shown that smaller cows can wean more pounds of calf per pound of feed than can larger cows.

Next are excerpts from my book “Cow Country Essays and a little Slantwise Logic.”

“Data from Arkansas, Montana, and Oklahoma has shown adding 100 pounds overall weight to a cow will produce, at best, 6 pounds additional weight.”

“On that basis, Oklahoma State University economist Damona Doye and animal scientist Dave Lalman calculated this added calf weight is worth $5 to $7, while the cost per cow for putting it on is $42-a net loss of $35 per cow unit.