Benchmarks for the Cow/Calf Producer

By : Dr. Andrew Griffith, Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Tennessee

The past couple of meetings I have spoken at I have briefly discussed some benchmarks for conception rate, calving rate, and weaning and marketing rate. The reason this has been a topic is because of the concern about cattle prices. Many producers are concerned about cattle price, but I would contend that many cow-calf producers are losing more money from not getting cows bred and not getting calves to the age of marketing than they are through market price swings.

The benchmark values I suggest is a 95 percent conception rate, 94 percent calving rate, and a 90 percent weaning and marketing rate. Thus, a producer with 30 cows needs to have 27 marketable calves each year while the producer with 100 cows needs 90 marketable calves.

For many producers, these benchmarks are not being met which means the market price has no impact on animals that never make it to marketing. This is meant to encourage producers to focus on management aspects that improve the likelihood of actually having something to market.

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