Extension Number

ASL R1340


Cow-Calf Management and Marketing

Publication Date



A 13-year summary of the Iowa State University Extension Service’s Beef Cow Business Record (BCBR) was compiled to show the trends in cost, profit, and production for beef-cow enterprises in Iowa. During these 13 years, 966 yearly records were summarized on herds with an average size of 74.6 cows. Each year-end summary sorts the producers with profits in the top and the bottom thirds of the group so that differences can be analyzed. The average cost to maintain a beef cow from 1982 to 1994 was $370.80. Cost components included in this average total were: feed and pasture, $177.10; operating, $45.40; depreciation, taxes, and insurance, $19.70; labor, $44.90; and capital, $83.70. Producers sorted into the top one-third profit group had 13-year average total cow costs of $309.80, but the bottom onethird profit group averaged $437.10. Economic returns per cow for these same 13 years were: return to capital, labor, and management, $139.50; return to labor and management, $56.20; and net profit, $20.20. Top-profit producers had an average net profit of $126.20 per cow, whereas the least profitable group had an average loss of $107.40. Of this $233.60 difference, $127.30 was due to production cost, and the remaining $106.30 was caused by gross return differences. The average number of pounds of beef produced per cow from 1984 through 1994 was 567. This production was achieved with 2.5 acres of pasture, 3.9 acres of cornstalk grazing, and 4,675 pounds of stored feed per cow unit. Top-profit producers used 673 pounds of stored feed per hundredweight of production, but the least profitable producers used 1,015 pounds. Top-profit producers produced 74 pounds more per cow while using 1,313 pounds less stored feed.

Copyright Owner

Iowa State University



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