Statistical Bulletin No. (SB-974-3) 26 pp

November 2001

Characteristics and Production Costs of U.S. Cow-Calf Operations

Differences in regional conditions were the chief influence on variations in cow-calf production costs across the United States. Cow-calf operators in the West and Southern Plains have significant cost advantages over operators in other regions because, with a longer grazing season, their herds require less supplemental forage during the winter. The larger acreage size of operations in the West and Southern Plains also can support more cows and take advantage of economies of scale (spreading the fixed investment over more units of production). Because of the harsher climate, operations in the North Central region and Northern Plains spend significantly more to maintain their herds. Cowherds in the Southeast are primarily on small and part-time operations. These findings are based on the 1996 Agricultural Resource Management Study (ARMS), the most recent national survey of cow-calf producers.

Keywords: Cow-calf, operation characteristics, production practices, costs of production, cost variation

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