How much a cow costs an operation per year and how ranchers and farmers make ends meet through good and bad years?

Ranching looks so easy, just let animals eat grass and money rolls in. But,how much a cow costs an operation per year and how ranchers and farmers make ends meet through good and bad years. I often wondered about the cost of ranching
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Upvotes from: Chris Hardwick

I leased 350 acres in Myakka, Florida which was already fenced, coral, ponds, etc. I purchased about 150 breed cows and still lost money at the end of the lease mainly due to the fact that cattle prices collapsed around 2015-2016. The land was sold from under me and I was not able to extend the lease as I was planning so I had to sell all my cattle. It was a disaster. BUT, I really loved it and I am looking to purchase good land somewhere in the South East and start all over again....

Tom Sikes - farm

Upvotes from: Chris Hardwick

Wow! Brother that is an eye popping list, even at the lower costs that is astonishing. I live in the desert of southern Cal. There used to be many family farms out here. Field crops mostly. But the cost of pumping water went up a lot , the water table dropped and the solar fields offer lots of money to struggling farmers and ranchers west of us. I only have 26 laying chickens to deal with, adding meat birds this week to add to income. I do a couple of other things for income. Thanks for the info, and your determination to proceed.
Anyway,please quit reminding me how much money I'm losing...... I have a sign in my living room that states "Behind every successful rancher, is a wife that works in town." My favorite saying is, "I can show you how to make a small fortune in ranching. Start with a LARGE one!"


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We had 23 calves yesterday two died one was breached and the other one got trampled two moms had a fight animals are hard to understand sometimes. Farming comes with challenges that some people just can't handle it brings out the rough in the tough men and women of this country.


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We have almost 600 cows and a little grow yard, So for a young guy like me wanting to expand I have to buy the land and the cows so there really isn't any thing left over.By the way,"The farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale, pays the freight both ways." -John F. Kennedy


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I get so mad at people saying how farmers and ranchers have it easy. Sometime do a cost analysis of medicines. I worked from a fertilizer company that also did custom spraying. I unloaded two pallets of chemicals thirty boxes with two 2.5 gallon jugs per box. When I finished my boss looked at me and said you just moved 250,00o dollars.

chris richards

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It is a hard line of work to turn a profit getting started.I have considered taking on some goats for a couple of years because they are a faster turnaround in my area, " its like Corb lund said what else you gonna spend that extra money on!"

David Middlebrooks

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i run a small farm and its just a tax write off. cause you cant make a living at it. Without a real job to take up the slack. Farmers are getting fleeced by the world. we feed everyone and they get food for low prices and we work our buts off. I for one am about to hang it up tired of working for nothing.

Chris Hardwick

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I've been raising cattle for five years now, I'm up to 11 head, two bulls and a whole family of older cows and a couple generations of calves.  Right now I'm building up the herd, this year I should have five calves!  I'm on six acres but my cows have just half an acre, I treat them like horses with good horse hay and straw bedding and a three stall loafing shed.  I figure I probably pay about the same for 11 cows as you would to board 2 horses at a nice place.  Making a profit is tough, the only way I can do it is if I buy my hay at $1 or $2 per bale, and that only happens every once in awhile when I get lucky.  Right now I buy big bales at $195 per ton.  It costs me about $540 per month in hay.  Since I'm building my herd I don't ever see money coming in though, but I figure profit based on estimated weights of my cows and market prices.  I do find other ways to pay for that hay without having to take it from my bank account.  At times I'll buy and sell some hay on the side to some neighbors, I also sell chicken and duck eggs as hatching eggs, also hatched out baby chicks and ducks, bred my dogs and made some money there, I also raise reptiles as a hobby.  I guess all my profits on my other hobbies I spend feeding my cattle.  I'm trying to build a cattle ranch from scratch which these days is nearly impossible, but I'm hoping I can do it!  It's really the love for the cow that got me started, these are truly 'gentle giants'.  For some reason I'm driven to have a big herd of cattle, it's just in my blood no matter what the cost.  I'm in Colorado but I've been considering moving down to Georgia where the seasons are much longer, so long in fact that with the right system you have to hardly feed any hay at all.  It's the hay costs that get you in the end.  Also, I think you would come out ahead if you had your own butcher shop and sold packaged meat instead of live beef on the hoof.  Or better yet, turn a lot of it into Beef Jerky!I read 'Beef' magazine and they had an article in there that said most ranchers with 100 cows or less don't make a profit.  Many people are fooled into thinking they are making money but they don't factor in depreciation, land taxes, their free labor, etc... 

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