## Friday, March 1, 2013

### Correction On "Do Bigger Calves Make More Money"

Even though it does not change the fact that 500 pound calves can make you more money overall than 700 pound calves, I have to admit to making a mistake. Rather than 500 pound calves being worth more than the 700 pound calves, the 700 pound calves were actually worth \$80 more. (Which should teach me to use a calculator after midnight).

So how do you make more money with the 500 pound calves? A 1250 pound cow consumes 16.5 pounds more feed per day than a 700 pound cow. This comes to 495 pounds a month more hay or 2,475 pounds over the course of a five month winter feeding season. Even if you put up your own hay and can do so for only \$100 a ton, the \$80 market advantage just dropped by over \$100, resulting in the 500 pound calves earning you \$20 more per head, or \$2,000 more per 100 calves (plus the additional 78 cows you could be running.)

The difference in consumption between the 1,250 pound cow and the 700 pound cow will also allow you to run 178 of the lighter cows for every 100 of those bigger cows on the same amount of forage and hay.

There have been people who commented that a 700 pound cow can't raise a 500 pound calf. In the 1970's and early 80's there were people doing just that by running smaller framed crossbred cows and taking advantage of hybrid vigor. Around the mid 80's feeders and packers were wanting bigger framed cows, and moderate framed cows fell by the wayside. By the early 90's previously moderately framed cattle such as Red Angus cows were weighing in at 1,800 pounds. Everyone jumped on the “bigger calves” bandwagon without thinking of the extra money it costs to raise those bigger calves.

Basically it boils down to an income of \$101,500 on 100 of those 700 pound calves or \$166,430 on 178 of those 500 pound calves with the same feed base. During times of drought, the extra money made by being able to run more of the lighter cattle could be the difference between selling out, or keeping the ranch.

For information on my services, visit NaturalCattle Handling.com   If you would enjoy a laugh or two, take a look at my cowboy humor and cookbooks at the 2lazy4U Livestock & Literary Co.

## Wednesday, February 27, 2013

### The Bigger is More Profitable Myth

There is a commonly held opinion within the cattle industry that ranchers need to raise bigger calves to be profitable. Is this opinion fact, or is it a myth?

When I checked the market prices at Amarillo, Texas tonight, 700 pound steers were bringing \$145 cwt while 500 pound steers were bringing \$187 cwt. This meant (that at least on this day) a 500 pound steer was actually worth \$65 more than a 700 pound steer. In reality, that 700 pound steer is costing you more than the \$65 difference in market price per head.
The average amount of feed to maintain a cow (depending on whether or not she is lactating, and what trimester of pregnancy she is in) will ranch from 2.5% to 3.5% of her body weight. For the purpose of keeping the numbers round, I am going to use an even 3%.

A 1,250 pound cow will have a daily feed requirement (1250 X 0.03) of 37.5 pounds of feed. This comes out to 13350 pounds of feed per year to raise that 700 pound calf.

A 700 pound cow will have a daily feed requirement (700 X 0.03) of 21 pounds a day, which comes out to 7665 pounds of feed per year.

By dividing the difference in the amount of feed needed to maintain the 1,250 cow by the amount needed to maintain the 700 pound cow, we find that you can actually run 1.78 of the 700 pound cows on the same amount of forage as it takes to run one 1,250 pound cow. This equates to running 178 cows raising 500 pound calves on the same amount of forage as it takes to run 100 of those soggy 700 pound calves. So just how much more money can your ranch bring in with the more moderately framed cows?

Based on the above market prices, you will make \$6,500 more per 100 calves on those 500 pound calves. However when you add the additional 78 calves you would raise, this adds another \$72,930 which brings the total to \$79,430. When you take into account the extra vaccines and wormers you will need, the total will drop a little, but you would still be putting more than \$70,000 a year into your bank account on the same amount of feed and forage.

For information on my services, visit NaturalCattle Handling.com If you would enjoy a laugh or two, take a look at my cowboy humor and cookbooks at the 2lazy4U Livestock & Literary Co.