Accurate cost of production (COP) figures have been notoriously difficult to nail down for Ontario’s beef farmers. With the wide variety of production practices employed, and the incredible complexity of raising cattle, modeling costs for either individual farms or the industry as a whole has either been too generalized to produce useful numbers or too specific to be used in a widespread manner. There is a real need, however, to get a handle on the cost of production in the province – taking on new production practices without reliable information on cost and profit impacts entails a lot of risk, and without benchmarks, farmers looking to improve their practices will have little guidance on how they stack up compared to similar operations.
In 2020, BFO designed a calculator to give cow-calf producers an estimate of their farm’s finances based on the characteristics of both their herd and what production practices they use. This Excel tool enables producers to enter and work with the details of their operation such as herd size, breeding stock sales, and feeding programs, to calculate projections for sales and revenue, production costs, and total profitability. The option to select various best practices is included, to show how profitability for the operation may change when these are used or removed from the calculation.