Based on a survey of cow-calf producers, Cattle-Fax recently reported the cash costs to carry a cow in various regions of the U.S. in 2004.

Table 1. Average Regional Cow Costs ($/Head), 2004a
Region Feed cost Labor cost Interest expense Other costs Total cash cost per cow
Northwest 206 63 19 91 379
Southwest 196 42 25 7 270
Midwest 219 37 19 51 326
Southern Plains 185 52 29 51 317
Southeast 165 45 26 46 282
U.S. avg. 194 48 24 49 315
aAdapted from Cattle-Fax ®, July, 2005.

Total cash costs were highest in the Northwest and lowest in the Southwest and Southeast. Feed costs were lowest in the Southeast and Southern Plains, and highest in the Midwest.

The national average for feed costs as a percentage of total costs was 62%. Therefore, working on reducing feed costs would appear to be a reasonable place to start in lowering cost of production and thereby enhancing profitability.