Why the Packer Loves Cowmen: Part I, The Reproductive Index

Santa Gertrudis cows and calves, The calf has ...

Santa Gertrudis cows and calves, The calf has and Electronic Ear Tag and herd management tag (yellow).

by Dr. Jimmy T (Gunny) LaBaume

Here is something that is sure to surprise you.

Let’s calculate the number of calves weaned per breeding animal, including bulls, replacement heifers and cows using ”typical” assumptions: 1) A less than 80% conception rate; 2) Of the cows pregnant, 90% will wean a calf e.g. between 70 and 75 calves per 100 cows exposed to the bull; 3) Replacement heifers are bred to calve at two years of age and 70% of these conceive and; 4) One bull for 25 cows.

So, out of 100 cows, herd composition at weaning and pregnancy testing would be:

Pregnant cows 80

Open cows 20

Pregnant replacements 20

Open replacements 9

Yearling heifers 29

Bulls 5

Total Herd 163

In sum, the 100 pregnant cows and heifers would wean 90 calves but, to do this, it takes 163 breeding animals. This is what Parsons calls, the “reproductive index” = 90/163 = .55 calves per breeding animal. So, if the calf weighs 500 lbs and is worth $750, the income per breeding animal is only $412.50 ($750 X .55).

Then, to arrive at gross margin we have to deduct death losses, depreciation, vet medicine, supplements, marketing expenses and interest on capital.

And then the result has to cover the overheads—land rent, salaries, etc.

There are two ways improve the reproductive index; 1) increase the calf crop and/or 2) reduce the number of breeding animals.

The only way to reduce the number of breeding animals is to reduce the number of bulls and replacement heifers. And in turn, to reduce replacement heifers, conception rates must be improved.

There are three ways to cut back on breeding animals without reducing the calf crop: 1) improve herd fertility so that fewer replacement heifers are needed; 2) increase the useful life of your mamma cows and 3) find ways to cut back on the number of bulls.

We will deal with these in subsequent parts.

After: Parsons, Stanly D. Putting Profit into Ranching

Dr. Jimmy T (Gunny) LaBaume (send him mail) is President & CEO, Land & Livestock International, Inc. providing a complete line of management & consulting services to the range livestock industry.

About Land & Livestock Interntional, Inc.

Land and Livestock International, Inc. is a leading agribusiness management firm providing a complete line of services to the range livestock industry. We believe that private property is the foundation of America. Private property and free markets go hand in hand—without property there is no freedom. We also believe that free markets, not government intervention, hold the key to natural resource conservation and environmental preservation. No government bureaucrat can (or will) understand and treat the land with as much respect as its owner. The bureaucrat simply does not have the same motives as does the owner of a capital interest in the property. Our specialty is the working livestock ranch simply because there are so many very good reasons for owning such a property. We provide educational, management and consulting services with a focus on ecologically and financially sustainable land management that will enhance natural processes (water and mineral cycles, energy flow and community dynamics) while enhancing profits and steadily building wealth.
This entry was posted in Cattle Production, Cell Grazing, Herd Effect, Managed Grazing, Managing the Ranch as a Business, Mob Grazing, Ranch Economics, Savory Grazing Method and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Why the Packer Loves Cowmen: Part I, The Reproductive Index

  1. Ross Macdonald says:

    There is some really interesting research from Colorado and Nevada indicating that cow:bull ratios could be much higher than the stated averages.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s