The Cattle-Fax 2005 cow-calf survey says U.S. cow costs increased $36/head in 2005. Cash costs/cow averaged $351 in 2005 — $36/head more than the 2004 average of $315/head. In the past decade, annual cow costs have ranged from $292 to $351/head, with a 10-year average of $307/head.

Cattle-Fax analysts attribute the increase largely to higher energy and fuel costs. The costs don't include depreciation, opportunity cost or returns to management.

Overall, 96% of producers selling weaned calves were profitable in 2005, a record, Cattle-Fax says. Of producers selling calves at weaning, 80% made a profit of $100/head or more, 44% made $150/head or more, and only 4% were not profitable.

The average cow cost for the low ⅓ (least cost) of producers was $267/head, compared to the high ⅓ (highest cost) of producers, which was $445, a $178/head difference.

The survey also found 79% of producers use the Internet, 53% have registered a premise ID, 84% precondition their calves, and 78% felt the market rewarded them for preconditioning.