Vertical TMR mixer pays for itself on a beef cow-calf operation

In the past two issues of TMR Corner we have explored how feeding a beef cow-calf herd with a vertical TMR mixer simultaneously decreases feed waste and increases animal performance. In this issue we will use that information to develop a cost-benefit analysis for adopting the use of a vertical TMR mixer on a moderately sized cow-calf operation.

Convenience Traits are Important

Convenience traits are those cattle traits that contribute directly to savings in time, facilities, drugs and labor in a cow-calf enterprise.  Some examples of these traits would be temperament, polledness, structural and udder soundness, disease and pest resistance, heat tolerance, doing or fleshing ability, mothering ability and calving ease. Many of these traits of convenience are not highly heritable but contribute to the ease of participating in and enjoyment of the beef cattle industry.

So, Who Takes Care of the Calf?

Bryan McMurry, with Cargill Animal Nutrition, earned his Masters Degree in Animal Breeding and Genetics, and a PhD in Animal Science from Texas A&M University. The short, simple answer to this question is of course, the cow. That’s her job. As cattlemen, taking care of the cow is our job. The answer to taking care of the cow is neither short nor simple.

Cost Challenges to Cow-Calf Producers

USDA’s Economic Research Service spelled it out last February.   In a quarterly report on farm income and costs, ERS said, “The current economic downturn has weakened beef demand, offsetting the positive effects of lower grain prices. Prices paid for feeder steers in 2009 are expected to remain almost exactly the same as in 2008.” ERS predicted cash receipts for cattle and calves in 2009 would move slightly upward to a nominal record high of $50.2 billion, but the weak demand would keep feedlots from increasing placements, and cow slaughter would continue to run above usual levels as producers cull cows to increase herd efficiency. In short, 2009 was expected—for the first time in a dozen years—to put many cow/calf operators in negative earnings territory.

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