I Promised Beef! (Small Farm Economics pt. 2)

A couple of days ago I posted a commentary and an accounting of the Thanksgiving Turkey operation at Two Coves. In that post I promised to lay out the beef numbers as well. Here they are, first a few words of explanation.

Basically the steers I get are purchased at about a year old, a little less. I raise them to be about 30 months. I feed them only grass and hay. Like the turkeys, I have it broken up into time and money "costs". I decided to list hay from the financial point of view only, this is a little tricky as I have huge time investments in making hay. I have tried on several occasions to objectify and quantify that time, I have not had much success. As a result I am including my time in the evaluation of the hay.

I am asserting that it costs me about $1.50 to make a bale of hay. A touch of that would be fuel and equipment costs, the rest is labor. We brought in about 2200 bales this year, value $3300. If I pay myself $30 an hour to make hay I have generated about 100 hours worth of hay. I have assigned the other $300 to fuel and equipment costs. All my estimates for labor time in hay making (for 2200 bales) come in right around 100 hours... so that works.

Hope that makes sense. Take a look, not doing as well here as we are on 50 turkeys but it all works together!


One takeaway for me is that we need to tinker with this one. My estimates for time are, I must admit, a minimum. That means $22 / hr is the best we can do based on how we have this structured currently. I don't think there is room, really, to raise prices on beef. I think we could stretch a couple dollars and cut back on some time where hay is concerned. For example, getting the new steers later in their first winter would mean we feed out less hay... that could be sold out of the field which brings in some $ and cuts back on some time. Something to think about... always fun playing with the numbers.

ps. Accounting and financial types who see all the flaws / holes in my logic and figures are welcome to keep it to themselves. Thanks!