Carrington Research Extension Center


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Cost of Gain for Backgrounding Calves


Figuring out the cost of gain on feeding calves depends on several variables - cost of feed, yardage, interest, veterinary costs and other inputs.  Feed cost is the largest of these expenses and can range from $0.30 to $0.45 or higher per pound of gain.  Overall cost of gain might be $0.50 to $0.80 per pound.

Jory Hansen, Farm Business Management Instructor at the CREC, has a chart that looks at breakeven analysis with $0.30 - $0.55 feed cost of gain for 550 pound calves fed at different rates of gain and purchase prices at a constant 120 days on feed.  As rate of gain increases and more pounds of weight are sold, the cost of gain decreases. For more information on this chart please contact Jory at 701-652-2951.

An easy-to-use spreadsheet, CalfWeb, can be found at This spreadsheet is a quick way to determine cost of gain and profitability.

A series of backgrounding meetings will be held this week across North Dakota.  The agenda and meeting sites can be found below. Please contact your local county Extension agent for more information.


Karl Hoppe, PhD

Area Extension Livestock Specialist / ND SARE Co-Coordinator

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