Markets are down and every dollar counts. Now is the perfect time to make sure your cow-calf enterprise is as productive and efficient as it can be. As you crunch numbers and determine the ways you will weather this lull in the cattle cycle, ask yourselves these three questions:
1. What did it cost to produce a calf this year?
Aaron Berger, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension educator, suggests that cow-calf producers analyze their costs of production right after weaning to determine the actual costs for producing a pound of weaned calf.
Berger says, “Unit Cost of Production (UCOP) takes into account both product produced and input costs. Knowing UCOP allows a manager to look forward, utilizing both present and projected input costs with production numbers to make informed decisions. You can’t change last year’s cost of production numbers, but with good information, you can make management changes that will impact the upcoming year. Cow-calf producers who know UCOP numbers and understand the interaction between costs and production can implement strategies to effectively manage resources to meet business and personal goals.”
2. Have I completed a ranch inventory?
Sean Kelly, South Dakota State University Extension range management field specialist, says during times of belt-tightening, completing a ranch inventory is imperative so producers can efficiently utilize what they have available on the ranch.
Kelly explains that a ranch inventory should include four categories of resources including: natural, financial, human and physical.
He writes, “Slower winter months ahead on the ranch are an excellent time to work on a ranch inventory. The first attempt will be the most time consuming. Each passing year, the ranch inventory will become more detailed, accurate and useful. Having a list of all available resources to ranch with will allow a ranch manager complete a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.”
3. How can I tighten the breeding season and improve reproductive rates?
Les Anderson, University of Kentucky Extension beef specialist, reminds us that while we can’t control the markets, we can control our productivity and efficiency. To improve upon those things we can control, he suggests tightening your breeding season window.
Anderson writes, “The first step to increasing reproductive rate is establishing and limiting the breeding season. Controlling the breeding season increases revenue and decreases cow costs, leading to an increased opportunity to profit.”
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Penton Agriculture.