What do you consider big when it comes to a grain operation? What about cattle? What’s a big cow-calf operation? Consider a grain farm that grows 30 bushels per acre of wheat with the wheat worth $5.50 a bushel. It takes about 1,500 acres to have a gross return of $250,000. On canola, assuming a value of $10.50 a bushel and a 30 bushel per acre crop, a gross return of $250,000 is reached with only 800 acres. Those are small acreages compared to the size of most farms. In a cow-calf operation, let’s assume weaned calves at 550 pounds and a price of $1.25 per pound. To reach a gross return of $250,000, you need to sell more than 360 calves, which implies a cow herd of about 400.
If you’re running 400 cows, you’re considered a pretty big cattle producer. If you have 1,000 to 1,500 crop acres, you’re considered small fry. A profit of $100 per cow might seem like a dream come true and maybe we’ll get there in the years ahead with the contraction that the North American beef herd has seen. But $100 per cow profit is only $40,000 on 400 cows. It’s only $10,000 on 100 cows. The average herd in Saskatchewan is less than a hundred cows. I’m Kevin Hursh.