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The cost of pregnancy loss

published: December 2nd 2020
source: Beef Cattle Browsing
In a recent multicounty webinar series titled “Show Me the Money”, speakers addressed the topic of value and cost of lost pregnancies. Pregnancy rates determined at pregnancy checks are usually higher than number of calves born. Some of these losses can be attributed to disease or genetics but such losses increase the breakeven price of the remaining calves. 
 
One of the speakers was Stan Bevers, a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agricultural Economist Emeritus, who has conducted Standardized Performance Analysis for 350 herds from Texas to Montana. Now as a professional ranching consultant Stan runs Ranch KPI (Key Performance Indicators) https://www.ranchkpi.com/ and is a faculty member with King Ranch Institute of Ranch Management.
 
Stan reported average annual cow cost of 31 herds in Texas and across the US averaging 1624 head as $956.67. In addition, average pregnancy rate was 90% but calving rate averaged 82.7%, indicating 7.3% pregnancy loss after cows were determined to be safely in calf. Of calves born, 80.2% were weaned (another loss of 2.5% after calving). Average weaning weight of those calves was 561 lbs. and were valued at $161.04/cwt. but the breakeven cost (at weaning) was $207.81.
 
Stan said that just selling open cows as culls is an expensive and wasteful solution. Open cows do not increase expenses, they remain the about the same. If culled, direct expenses (feed, veterinary, etc.) are reduced but indirect costs (labor, taxes, insurance, repairs, deprecation, etc.) remain the same. When a cow is sold, you are selling a fixed asset. You will have fewer weaned calves to sell and that increases the breakeven of the remaining weaned calves.
 
Editor’s note: Sales of cull cows (open, old, or less productive cows) represent about 15% of ranch income. Cull cows should be marketed in good condition to maximize weight and price.

 

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