Canadian Cow-Calf Cost of Production Network

By Jessica Smith, PAg, Livestock and Feed Extension Specialist, Swift Current

The Canadian Cow-Calf Cost of Production Network, run by Canfax Research Services and funded by the Beef Cattle Research Council, has a new opportunity for livestock producers to gain financial insight into their operation.

The network provides benchmark information for different production systems across Canada and develops baseline cost of production statistics. Each province has its own coordinator to handle the network in their respective provinces. In early 2021, 20 operations in Saskatchewan participated. This led to six typical farm benchmarks.

Participating producers will receive a $500 honorarium (one per operation). They will also receive helpful information about their own operation such as baseline data, key performance indicators, five years of historical indexing and a summary of future farm scenarios. This can help individual operations make improvements based on factors such as productivity, input costs and output prices.

Producers interested in participating can sign up by filling out the intake form on the Canfax website. The information you provide in this form will be used to determine your eligibility for the network. This also helps the coordinators set up focus group sessions with operations that have similar production practices. You do not need to know your cost of production to participate. Some of the information required on the intake form are:

  • number of exposed cows/year;
  • calving and weaning dates;
  • winter feeding information;
  • typical date of sale for calves; and
  • land base information.

Producers will be involved in two, four-hour virtual focus groups with three to five producers per group. Participants will be given a checklist of information that they will need for the sessions. During the first session, producers will share production and financial details which are used to generate a benchmark for a typical farm. The second session involves brainstorming, which will aid in the development of future farm scenarios for each operation. Participants are asked about a number of topics areas including:

  • what their dream farm/ranch entails;
  • practices they would not consider adopting on their operation;
  • new tools and practices they are considering;
  • advice they would give new entrants;
  • opportunities and constraints faced;
  • areas where small gains could be made through the adoption of practices and technologies;
  • risk management practices; and
  • marketing practices.

The Canfax team uses producers’ knowledge and existing research to run the costs and benefits of these scenarios. It is important to note that all information and individual results are confidential.

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