Many factors play a role in achieving cow efficiency

Even though more heifers are entering the U.S. cowherd, the most productive females on the ranch are the cows already in your pastures. Their value has already paid off their initial investment and their efficiency holds the key to profitability.

During the Range Beef Cow Symposium this past November in Loveland, Colo., a panel of ranchers described how they improved the efficiency of their cowherds and gave producers advice on how to get the most from their cows.

The economic component of efficiency is the most important consideration, says Trey Patterson, CEO,  Padlock Ranch Company, based in  Ranchester, Wyo.

“Yes, we do need a certain level of production, but we need to have economic efficiency,” he explains. In order to reduce costs, Patterson considered feeding cows and heifers less purchased and harvested feed. 

“We have to push the limits. The top-notch managers push the limits without falling off the cliff. You’ve got to be bold enough to try that,” Patterson says.

It might involve small changes, such as feeding a cow 25 lb. of hay per day instead of 28 lb. or lowering the stocking rate on the pasture from 3 acres per month to 2.5 acres. 

However, you need to pay attention to your cattle and pasture, he acknowledges. When you start to see production or body condition decline, then you should be ready to respond with additional feed.