Economics of Pregnancy Testing Beef Cattle Model

Assuming a spring calving schedule, generally producers have three options for managing open cows:

  1. Preg-check and cull non-pregnant cows in the fall.
  2. Preg-check in the fall and feed non-pregnant cows separately to market at a later date.
  3. Do not preg-check - overwinter all cows and cull opens in the spring after calving.

Preg-check in fall and cull immediately Preg-check in fall and feed cull cows separately until spring
Economic gains to consider Economic costs to consider Economic gains to consider Economic costs to consider
Avoid overwintering costs for non-pregnant cows. Vet cost of preg-checking herd. Value of fed cull cows in the spring realized. Supplemental feed cost.
Value of non-pregnant cows in the fall realized. Value of fed cull cows in the spring forgone. Value of non-pregnant cows in the fall forgone.
Vet cost of preg-checking herd.

To help producers choose the most economical option for their operation, the Economics of Pregnancy Testing Beef Cattle Model calculates the gain or loss per head of cattle when preg-checking and culling open cows in the fall compared to overwintering and culling in the spring. It is important to note that in the model the gain/loss per head applies to all cows in the herd, both those that are pregnant and non-pregnant. This model was designed in this fashion because the decision to preg-check must be made before the herd pregnancy rate is known.

There are two variations of the model:

  1. Basic Model - requires only six pieces of information: herd size, type of management system, the month preg-checking will occur, the anticipated calving month, and the current fall month and market price.
  2. Advanced Model - allows producers to enter custom data for their herd including: cost of production, ADG, length of winter feeding period, herd open rate, and veterinary cost to more accurately calculate the net gain or loss of preg-checking.

Feeding cull cows - Both models have the option to enter parameters for feeding cull cows as a separate group. By entering feed and overhead cost, the expected number of days on feed, and the expected average daily gain (ADG) of cows in the group, the model will calculated the expected gain or loss of preg-checking in the fall and feeding cull cows as a separate group.

The models use the following formula to determine the net benefit of preg-checking and culling in the fall:

  1. Gain/head = {(Overwintering cost + value of cow in fall - value of cow in spring) x herd open rate} - Vet cost
  2. Overwintering cost = daily cost of production x days in winter feeding period
  3. Value of cow in fall = fall weight x fall market price
  4. Value of cow in spring ={fall weight + (average daily gain over winter x days in winter feeding period)} x spring market price
Basic Model   Advanced Model

PART A - PRODUCER INFORMATION

Section 1 - Basic Information

Factors Additional Information
Herd Size

Enter number of cows and first-calf heifers.

Management System

E=option to enter custom data

Expected month of preg-checking

A=September; B=October; C=November

Anticipated calving month

A=February; B=March; C=April; D=May

Current fall cull-cow market price (CAN$/lbs))

Enter the current fall market price for the cull cows in Canadian dollars per pound

Enter the month for the price above

A=September; B=October; C=November

Section 2 - Herd Management Data

Factors Additional Information
Cost of production ($/cow/day)

Enter the cost of production for overwintering per day for each cow, based on your production system (including feed and overhead costs)

Length of winter period (days)

Average for Western Canada = 160

ADG (lbs/day)

Average Daily Gain, per cow

Vet cost for preg-checking one cow

Enter the cost charged by your veterinarian to preg-check one cow

Herd open rate

Percentage of herd that is open in the fall (average for Western Canada = 7.7%)

Section 3 - Cull Cows Fed as Separate Group

Factors Additional Information
Estimated number of cull cows

Calculated from the herd size and herd open rate (average of 7.7% if not specified)

Month cull cows marketed

Calculated using month preg checked and number of days on feed

Estimated cull-cow price at marketing ($)

Estimated based on the month from above

Feed and overhead cost ($/cow/day)

(Leave blank if not using section 3) Note: This may be different than your production cost for overwintering.

Number of days on feed

Total days that cull cows are separated and fed until marketed (may enter between 1 and 350 days)

ADG (lbs/day)

Average Daily Gain per head you expect to attain for the group

Section 4 - Management Factors

Cost of production ($/day/head) Winter feeding period (days) ADG (lbs) Total gain over winter (lbs/cow)

Section 5 - Cull Cow Value

Value of cow in Value of cow in Difference

Section 5b - Cull Cow Value when fed separate

Value of separately fed cow in Value of cow in Difference

PART B - ECONOMIC MODEL RESULTS

Do not preg-check (cull in spring) Preg-check in fall and cull immediately Preg-check in fall and feed cull cows separately until spring
Gain/head Gain/head Gain/head
Gain for herd Gain for herd Gain for herd

PART C - ECONOMIC MODEL DATA

Section 1 - Management Factors

Management System Cost of Production ($/cow/day) Winter feeding period (days) ADG (lbs/day) Total gain over winter (lbs) Vet cost ($) Average herd open rate (%)
Drylot
Swathed barley grazing
Bale grazing
Standing corn grazing
Producer custom data (based on entries from Part A, Section 2)

Section 2 - Market Factors

Month Historic average price (CAN$/lbs) Projected price based on known September price (CAN$/lbs) Projected price based on known October price (CAN$/lbs) Projected price based on known November price (CAN$/lbs) Average Live Weight (lbs) Value
September
October
November
December
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August

Section 3 - Veterinary Cost and Open Rate

Average vet cost of preg check/cow ($) Average herd open rate

Section 4 - Veterinary Cost and Open Rate

Month Monthly Averages from 2005-2014 (CAN$/cwt) Percent change based on September market price Percent change based on October market price Percent change based on November market price
September
October
November
December
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August

Section 5 - Cull Cow Separate Group Data

Weight of cull cow after feed Day cull cow was separated Day cull cow was marketed