Is Now the Right Time to Expand My Cow Herd?

man making calculations on a calculator

Report Snapshot

It’s important for producers to continue to focus on managing cost, emphasizes Dave Weaber, Terrain’s senior animal protein analyst. Especially during times in the cattle cycle when revenue is rising, because historically cow costs increase during those times as well.

“We still, for the most part, work in a commodity business where prices move in and around breakevens,” Dave says. “If our break-even cost accelerates faster than our competition, when the cycle turns over, we’re going to be in trouble.”

He adds, “In that vein, I want folks to really evaluate what they can afford to pay, not what cattle are costing.”

Dave suggests running some numbers when considering cow herd expansion. 

First, find out what the cow is going to be worth and ask:

  1. Am I better off buying a bred heifer? A 2- to 4-year-old cow? 

  2. Am I in the part of the cycle where I can live with a cow that’s a solid-mouth, 6- to 8-year-old cow, and run her for a couple of years until prices start to decline?

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