Beef cattle producers should seek every pound of gain possible

In a high or low cattle market environment, capturing the most pounds per calf affects a producer's bottom line, said a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service economist.

Mac Young, AgriLife Extension economist in Corpus Christi, told attendees at the recent Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association convention in Fort Worth that beef producers have obviously enjoyed the record -high prices they've received the past couple of years.

However, purchasing replacement females has been an expensive proposition, he said.

"Prices for 2016 are obviously higher than 2012. That's great if you are selling, but not so great if you are buying replacement heifers or cows," he said. "We've seen those record-high prices come down a bit since late last year and you need to do everything you can to put as many pounds on your calves as possible."

Young said Texas beef cow inventory was at 4.3 million head at the beginning of 2016 with approximately 134,000 farms averaging 32 cows per farm. Beef cattle inventory continues to rebound after the devastating drought of 2011-2013.

Young emphasized even though beef numbers in Texas herds are gradually increasing, an all-calf management program can help produce extra dollars in an operation. A 2014 AgriLife Extension study led by the Farm Assistance program revealed that an all-calf management program could dramatically increase income, he said.

"With all-calf management, you are attempting to produce as many pounds as possible," he said. "What is important whether you have low or high prices, you need to maximize the number of calves you get out of your herd and improve the quality to increase the prices you receive. Even when you have high prices or whether you have a low-price scenario, it does affect your bottom line."

The Farm Assistance study focused on a 2,000-acre ranch consisting of 1,800 acres of native pasture and 200 acres of established Coastal Bermuda grass used for grazing only. Under normal stocking rates, the cowherd included 200 cows or a stocking rate of one animal unit to 10 acres and eight bulls, or one bull to 25 cows.

The study took in consideration production inputs, yields, costs and overhead charges based on typical rates for the region. In 2014, hunting income for the ranch was $10 an acre. Assets, debts,

machinery inventory and scheduled equipment replacements for the projection period were the same in all management scenarios.

A group of yearlings at the 2016 Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Convention. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Blair Fannin)

A group of calves at the 2016 Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Convention. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Blair Fannin)

With no selected calf management practices, average net cash


income was $76,970 a year or $385 a cow per year and $428 a calf per year. An all calf-management program of clostridial vaccinations, castration/implants and deworming led to net cash


income of $89,360, representing $477 a cow per year and $496 a calf per year.

"This reflects a 16.1 percent increase or $12,390 increase versus no calf management practices,"


said. "All of these practices help produce more dollars when selling calves. The worst thing you can do is have a cow out there that isn't having a calf. That's cutting into your profits.

"The points I'm trying to make is you are going to have good market prices and you are going to have bad market prices. That's why as a producer you need to produce as many pounds as possible. To me, it's a hedge. You are trying to increase your volume of calves, which in the end will help your bottom line."