Rebuilding with Homegrown Heifers Versus Purchasing Breeding Stock

This is a guest post by Huiting Huang, Research Analyst at Canfax Research Services.
beef producer on horseback checking cattle in lot
Severe drought, high feed costs and limited feed availability in 2021 forced many producers to liquidate a portion of their cow herd. One of the consequences of a smaller herd is the higher cost per cow as overheads are spread over fewer animals. Therefore, when feed is available and pasture quality and quality allow, rebuilding the herd is desired in order to efficiently utilize available resources (such as land, labour, facilities and machinery) and to minimize equity loss.

With various drought conditions across the country, producers are likely to have different plans and timelines for herd rebuilding. Some might be planning to rebuild in 2022 if the drought abates, but those who are in a prolonged drought may need more time for pastures to recover.

Recovering from drought is a challenging period and requires strategic decision-making with considerations of the trade-offs of different rebuilding options from the economic, animal performance and land productivity perspectives.

To better understand the different rebuilding options, Canfax Research Services conducted an analysis focusing on the potential economic trade-offs of rebuilding with homegrown heifers or purchased breeding stock. Continue reading

Every Farm Has Different Goalposts – Setting Goals and Defining Success

What does a “successful” Canadian beef farm look like? How do you define success on your farm?

Canfax and the Beef Cattle Research Council recently released the results from their Canadian Cow-calf Cost of Production Network. The project collected data from 115 beef producers across Canada and summarized production benchmarks such as cow size, weaning weight and calf mortality. The network also looked at profit and expense benchmarks like feed costs, cow depreciation, enterprise revenue and more. A detailed summary of these results can be found here.

Interested in the Canadian Cow-Calf Cost of Production Network?

Producers receive:

  • Opportunity to learn from and share experience with other similar producers
  • $500 honorarium
  • Farm summary of production system including physical performance indicators
  • Summary of the whole farm, cow-calf enterprise and retained ownership enterprise, with 2020 baseline and five years of historical indexing
  • Summary of future farm scenarios

Sign up at: https://www.canfax.ca/COPNetwork.aspx

While profit and production numbers are often touted as measures of success, participants in the Cost of Production Network pointed out that fiscal targets are not their only focus. Success looks different for every farm because individual goals and values vary. Some producers may put a spotlight on strategies to increase revenue and reduce costs while other farmers view success as working well with family members or having less overall stress. All definitions are important and worth striving for.

Andre and Katie Steppler were named Manitoba Region’s Outstanding Young Farmers (OYF) in 2020. They manage the cattle division of Steppler Farms, where they run purebred and commercial Charolais herds as well as the recent addition of a registered Black Angus herd.

While winning the OYF award may be the very definition of success for most farmers, Steppler, who works alongside his three brothers, their families and his parents near Miami, Manitoba, is quick to point out that there is no single goal or target that makes their multigenerational farm work. “It’s about shared visions and goals and it’s a revolving thing,” he says. “You can’t stand still.” Continue reading

Canadian Cow-calf Cost of Production Network – 2021 Results

 



You may know what you want out of your operation, but do you record what you put into it? Knowing the difference between what you get and what you give is essential for profitable decision-making. This is the purpose of calculating cost of production.



The Canadian Cow-calf Cost of Production Network launched in 2020 with the objective to benchmark different production systems across Canada. Baseline data was collected from 115 producers who attended virtual focus groups between January and March 2021. This created 25 cow-calf and 3 dairy-beef production systems. These benchmarks are the first set in a standardized pan-Canadian process looking at the many types of cow-calf production systems across the country. The network only requires data to be submitted every five years; and should reduce response burden for producers while allowing for improvements to be tracked into the future. Results from the 2020 reference year are now available online  Continue reading

It can pay exponentially to have a precision rancher mindset

How three 5% changes increase profit by more than 300%



A “precision rancher” is someone who, recognizing that agriculture operates on small margins, utilizes every technology, production practice and management technique that is appropriate for their climate, soil zone and production system in order to maximize their profits.

Producers make dozens of decisions every season to support the reproduction and productivity of their cow herd and the quality and yield of their forages, knowing that there are trade-offs with many choices. Incremental changes have great potential, both positively and negatively, to impact the bottom line. Monitoring and managing productivity, price and input costs can significantly increase competitiveness by helping ensure that valuable, incremental opportunities are not ignored.

The 5% Rule: Productivity, Price and Costs

In terms of net income, economists have found that the difference between the top 25% of agricultural operations and the average operation is typically small, as little as 5% on inputs, production or price. If you change input costs, productivity and price each by 5%, it makes a tremendous impact on the bottom line. Continue reading

Economics of Preg-checking: a 2017 Update

The major economic benefit of preg-checking is the cost-saving of wintering open cows. However, it has been noted that preg-checking is not always worthwhile, as the increased revenue due to higher prices in the spring and the additional weights put on in the winter could more than offset winter feeding costs.



The economics of preg-checking depends on the cull cow market price, the management system employed by the producer, feed and overhead costs, and veterinary costs. As market dynamics change every year, it is important to consider the current market situation when making preg-checking decisions.

Alberta cow prices experienced an impressive rally in the first half of 2017 but the seasonal decline has been sharp since Continue reading

Call for Proposals: Beef Production Economics (2017-2018)

Canfax Research Services (CRS) invites proposals for Beef Production Economics. The deadline is June 24, 2016 at 11:59 PM MT.

CRS is partnering with the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) whose mandate is to establish research and development priorities for the Canadian beef cattle industry and manage national check-off funds allocated to research.

The BCRC developed the second Beef Cattle Industry Science Cluster under Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Growing Forward II Strategy.  The Beef Cattle Industry Science Cluster was a Continue reading

Focus on productivity



This is a guest post by Canfax Research Services.

The feedlot and packing sectors have been very successful at driving productivity and efficiency gains through larger carcass weights, average daily gains, feed to gain ratios and yield in order to decrease per unit costs and maximize profits.

Are things really so different for the cow/calf sector?  Continue reading