Feeding Cattle May Not Add Up

Cheap feed prices doesn't automatically mean wide profit margins.

Published on: Oct 20, 2005

"Just because feed prices are cheap doesn't mean feeding cattle will be profitable," says Karl Hoppe, livestock specialist at the NDSU Carrington Research Extension Center. "Producers need to do the math correctly, and here's a way to do it."

The North Dakota State University Extension Service has a planning tool to help producers make that determination. It's an online service called CalfWEB, at www.chaps2000.com/calfweb/index.htm.

CalfWEB provides two programs. One, a break-even calculator, helps producers decide whether they could profit from feeding their calves. The break-even calculator asks producers to provide information including the calves' projected sale weight and average daily gain, ration cost per ton and expenses such as veterinary and medicine costs, marketing and trucking.

The other program, the closeout analyzer, calculates producers' profitability after selling their cattle. It asks producers to provide data such as average sales date, weight and price; ration cost per pen; dry matter content of the ration; and veterinary/medicine, marketing and trucking costs.