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Left Handed Logic – Figuring per Calf Costs

By   /  July 29, 2013  /  3 Comments

In this excerpt from his book “Time to Change” Colorado Rancher Chip Hines shows how shifting per cow costs to your saleable animals gives you a whole new look at how to cover costs and make profits.

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When figuring year-end expenses it is normal to put them on a per cow basis.  This is fine, but now
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About the author

Chip Hines was born and raised on a farm and ranch southwest of Burlington, Colorado. After moving to the Kit Carson, Colorado area and working on several large ranches Chip and his wife Judy began leasing land and buying cows in 1968. Unbeknownst to them this was the run-up to the big cattle break in 1974. Their first cattle cycle lesson. Chip has not forgotten! In 1989 he began planned grazing and concentrated even more on his low input philosophy. The years of learning have been published in three books on ranch management, available on his website, http://chiphines.com. Chip now lives in Yuma, Colorado and is still involved in supporting the cattle industry.


  1. Ben Berlinger says:

    Thanks for publishing Chip’s article. Those who don’t have his books need to read and think about what he’s trying to get across. Chip is amazingly right on the mark with the “true” cost of cow production as well as other PROFIT based ranching concepts. He’ll challenge you to think outside the box with all of his ideas! Great stuff who’s time has surely come…!

  2. Bill says:

    Great article. However over many years, we shouldn’t omit the value of the cull cows. Way back when, (spreadsheets were a new thing and calves were under 50 cents a lb, sometimes way under), I realized that the calves paid for maintenance of the herd and the only profit was in the cull cows. Thankfully things are better now but it points out that carrying a cow too long costs on both income and expense as older cows lose weight and value at the market.

    One other comment is that I tried to calculate cost/acre. In our area, I ended up using opportunity cost (what I could rent the land to somebody else for grain production) on cropable land and calculating taxes, lime, fertilizer etc. on land that wasn’t suitable for crop land. It’s an interesting exercise, and scary at times.

    • Chip Hines says:

      Hi Bill,

      I left out the cull cows so the focus was just on that one thing. I wanted people to realize just how much load the calves that were sold had to carry. I do different exercises to point out things that are most times missed.

      I agree the cull cows are important in the general scheme, and there is a lot of discussion on when is the best time to turn them. I have another book and a workbook that carry my thoughts farther.

      Thanks for the reply,

      Chip Hines

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