What Should I Charge to Over Winter Cows? - Frequently Asked Questions

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 What will it cost to feed cows this winter?
Average sized cows weighing about 1300 lbs in their second trimester will cost $2.40 to $3.00/head per day to feed. As she approaches calving, feed costs will increase with typical feed costs in the last trimester running $3.20 to $4.00/head per day. After calving, the feed costs for a 1300 lb cow should range between $4.50 to $5.50/head per day. This is based on current hay prices of $160 - $200/ton, barley prices between $4.35 -$4.70/bushel and silage valued between $60 - $65/wet ton.

What are my yardage costs going to run?
This fall’s range of quotes for yardage on over wintered cows is ranging between $0.75 to $1.00/head per day. For a relatively modest group of cows of around 100 head, yardage costs will run approximately $0.80/head per day. This is assuming a feeding period of 200 days. Annual ownership costs of facilities, which includes depreciation, taxes, insurance and interest on investment, will total about $2400. Annual operating costs for the feeding equipment will run approximately $5700 which again covers depreciation, insurance and interest on investment. Remaining variable costs for the feeding period will cost about $7900. These costs are charges for power, heat, fuel, repairs and operator labour. The total yardage costs of $16,000 is spread over 20,000 cow-days. One can easily see that economies of scale come into play. While more cows will not affect variable costs much, they will reduce the per cow operating and ownership costs. This is the reason larger lots are able to charge less for yardage.

What do I charge for calving cows?
Typical calving charges are between $25 to $50/live calf. Extra vet and medicine costs are over and above. Occasionally, higher priced calves such as purebreds will incur higher calving charges mainly because the perceived value of the calves are higher.

How can the cow owner be guaranteed that the cows will be properly cared for?
The best way to ensure that cows are maintained properly is to monitor their body condition. To protect both parties, it is advisable to agree upon a body condition of the cows going into the custom operation. Both parties should agree on a body condition for when the cows leave after the feeding period. Furthermore, some system of mid-period monitoring should be in place to prevent a yo-yo feeding effect.

Basic Design of a Lease Agreement for Custom Feeding Cows
Let’s Sharpen Our Pencils
Beef Cow Body Condition Management
Body Condition: Implications for Managing Beef Cows

Prepared by Ted Nibourg, Ag-Info Centre, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development

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For more information about the content of this document, contact Ted Nibourg.
This document is maintained by Mary Ann Nelson.
This information published to the web on November 10, 2003.
Last Reviewed/Revised on October 11, 2018.