Editor''s Notebook

October 30, 2008 07:00 PM

Editor, Kim Watson
With the economic situation in this country and around the world, we are all feeling a bit uneasy about what the future holds. For the most part, there is no sense in panicking since much of it is out of our control—we're in an economic pattern that we can do little to change on our own.

On top of that uneasy economic situation, we're all faced with rising costs of production. Feed, fertilizer and fuel have all increased over the last few years. If you look at Texas A&M's Southwest SPA (Standardized Performance Analysis) data, you can see how cost of production for cow–calf producers has increased. Ten years ago, the cost per female was around $350. In 2007, the cost per female averaged $590. Indeed, the factory is costing more to maintain and calves are costing more to grow.

Production records count. We've all heard the phrase "you can't manage what you don't measure.” In years when input costs are rapidly increasing, the importance of having specific records becomes more evident—you need to know where you can make cuts.

Ask yourself, what is your true cost of production on a per-cow basis? Do you know the areas where you could make cuts without sacrificing production? Are you looking at the cattle enterprise on its own to find out if the margins are there to make money?

There are a myriad of record-keeping methods and tools to help decipher and manage your records. The key is to have a method that you are comfortable with and is easy for you to maintain, whether it's with a pencil and notebook or an Excel spreadsheet. In the next few months, our plan is to look at different cost centers and provide some tips to help you reduce costs in various areas. In addition, we'll look at ways to improve efficiencies in production to help you spread those costs out.

In this issue of Beef Today, you will find stories that provide tips and tools you can use to help reduce feed and fuel costs. We've also compiled more tools and information at www.beeftoday.com.

I'd like to hear from you about the areas where you need help in controlling costs or improving efficiency. Our goal is to give you the information you need to keep your cattle enterprise profitable in these tough economic times.

Also, please share ways you are saving money and improving efficiency around your farm or ranch. These ideas can be in any area, such as labor, feed, grazing, animal health or nutrition. E-mail me at kwatson@farmjournal.com to share your stories.

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