Cow-Calf Profitability Estimates for 2021 and 2022

– Greg Halich, Kenny Burdine, and Jonathan Shepherd, University of Kentucky Extension

The purpose of this article is to examine cow-calf profitability for a spring calving herd that sold weaned calves in the fall of 2021 and provide an estimate of profitability for the upcoming year.  Table 1 summarizes estimated costs for a well-managed spring-calving cowherd for 2021.  Every operation is different, so producers should evaluate and modify these estimates to fit their situation.  Note that in this table we are not including depreciation or interest on equipment/fencing/facilities, as well as labor and land costs.

Calves are assumed to be weaned and sold at an average weight of 550 lbs. In the fourth quarter of 2021, steers in this weight range were selling for prices in the upper $140’s and heifers in the low $130’s, on a state average basis. Therefore, a steer/heifer average price of $1.40 per lb is used for the analysis, which was $0.10 per lb higher than last year. However, it is important to note that calf prices were much higher in December of 2021, than in October and November. So, the timing of calf sales would have had a significant impact on cow-calf revenues. Weaning rate was estimated at 85%, meaning that it is expected that a calf will be weaned and sold from 85% of the cows that were exposed to the bull.  Based on these assumptions and adjusted for the weaning rate, average calf revenue is $655 per cow.

Pasture maintenance costs are assumed to be . . .

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