We got a lot of comments on our last article about cow size and profit. Here, Kit Pharo weighs in.
According to the USDA Research Center in Clay Center, Nebraska, the average Angus, Red Angus and Hereford cow weighs over 1,400 pounds. Mainstream seedstock producers have successfully out-Simmentalled the Simmentals. Unfortunately, in their attempt to wean bigger and bigger calves, their pounds and profit per acre have been decreasing. It doesn’t matter how big your cattle are if they’re not profitable.
Cow size has increased dramatically over the last 40 years. Since big cows eat substantially more than small cows, this has forced ranches to destock and increase supplemental feeding. With the cost of land and feed as high as they are, it is quickly becoming less and less profitable to own those big, high- maintenance cows.
Since smaller cows are able to wean a higher percentage of their own weight, they will always produce more total pounds and more total profit than big cows – on the same acres. To add insult to injury, there is evidence that smaller cows will actually wean bigger calves than big cows in a real-world, unpampered environment.
Your ranch can only support so much growth, milk and size. Once you go beyond that level, you will have to provide expensive supplementation to meet the needs of your big, high-maintenance cows. Without supplementation, your weaning weights and conception rates will suffer.
It shouldn’t surprise you that most of the bulls being sold today were produced by high-maintenance, 5 to 7-frame cows that weigh 1400 to 1800 pounds. These cows must be pampered to stay in production. What size and type of cows will these bulls produce? Like begets like! If you are concerned about profit, then thick, easy-fleshing, low-maintenance, 3 to 4-frame cows that weigh 1100 to 1250 pounds are plenty big enough.