Cattle-Fax(R) says its 2005 cow-calf survey revealed 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 cited above don't include depreciation, opportunity cost or returns to management.

Overall, 96% of producers selling weaned calves were profitable in 2005, a record-high percentage, 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 results show a strong correlation between high-return producers and lower costs and higher production performance. Average cow cost for those profiting $100/head or more was $347. Those who profited less than $100/head had an average cow cost of $377/head.

The average cow cost for the low ¨÷ (least cost) of producers was $267/head compared to the high ¨÷ (highest cost) of producers was $445, a $178/head difference. The results also show a positive correlation between weaning percentage and profitability. Producers who made more than $150/head, weaned 4% more calves than those who broke even or lost money.

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. -- Tod Kalous, Cattle-Fax(R) Update, taken from the Michigan State University Beef Cattle Research Update