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Beat the squeeze

Agriculture.com Staff 04/14/2009 @ 12:35pm

Trimming fat from feed costs lets beef producers chisel breathing room from the cost-price squeeze. "Think about what you're doing in terms of your feeding program and find ways to reduce cost in that area," says Kansas State University Extension agricultural economist James Mintert.

The cost of feed is fertile ground for finding lost profit. That's because it's the cost category that will yield most readily to management and because it accounts for the lion's share of cost of production. Feed costs typically comprise 40% to 45% of the total cost of maintaining a cow herd.

"A year ago in our region, we saw feed costs of $292 per cow per year," says Mintert. "This year, with prices of corn and milo, we may see feed costs as high as $325 to $345 per cow.

"The key to lowering feed costs is to reduce grain supplement and to minimize use of harvested forage," he adds. "Make cows harvest as much feed as they can by themselves."

That cost-cutting tactic is the strategy Cal Hoff has used to trim feed costs down to just 30% of overall cost of production for his herd. With his wife, Julie, and son, Casey, Hoff runs 250 beef cows and grows a variety of crops near Richardton, North Dakota.

Trimming fat from feed costs lets beef producers chisel breathing room from the cost-price squeeze. "Think about what you're doing in terms of your feeding program and find ways to reduce cost in that area," says Kansas State University Extension agricultural economist James Mintert.

Managing crops and cattle in an interwoven web is the nucleus of the Hoffs' management system. Here are the five ways they control costs.

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