Western Canada cow-calf survey now available

Survey allows producers to compare their operaitons across the west

Submitted by Alberta Agriculture

Do you wonder how your cow-calf operation compares with others in your region, province or herd size range on matters like conception rate and weaning weight? A joint effort representing the cow-calf industry from BC to Manitoba is helping Western Canadian cattle producers do just that.

By participating in the second Western Canadian Cow-Calf Survey, producers can choose to receive a complementary report that allows them to compare their own operation with benchmarks (average numbers from a region).

The survey takes about 45-60 minutes to complete and asks questions related to the 2016 breeding season all the way through to weaning of 2017 calf crop, as well as typical management practices. Many of the questions are the quick check-box style. Any question a producer is unable to answer can be left blank.

As a thank you for the time taken to complete the survey, participants will receive up to $50 in gift cards, in addition to the complementary report.

The complementary report will help producers see the aspects of their operation that they’re doing exceptionally well in, and the areas that have the greatest room for improvement. For example, the report will show a producer whether the conception rates of his cows in 2016 was higher or lower than nearby herds and herds of a similar size. That way, he or she will know whether to work with their veterinarian, nutritionist and/or regional extension specialist to have fewer of their cows come home from pasture open, or if other production goals are a higher priority for them to focus on to improve their productivity and profitability.

“This survey is being conducted to generate up-to-date production benchmarks for producers, get a better understanding of what producers were doing on their operations and determine ways to improve the productive efficiency of the industry,” says Barry Yaremcio, beef/forage specialist, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. “Ontario and Atlantic Canada producers are completing a similar survey this fall and it’ll be interesting to see if there are management differences among the three regions.”

Every cow-calf producer in BC, AB, SK and MB is encouraged to complete the survey. All of the information collected will remain confidential. Information cannot be linked to individual operations as data will be aggregated into averages and benchmarks.

For more information, or to http://wbdc.sk.ca/wcccs.htmcomplete the survey online, go to http://wbdc.sk.ca/wcccs.htm.


Producers have until the end of November to sign up for the AgriProfit$ program.

“AgriProfit$ is a free cost-of-production program to help Alberta producers with decision-making,” says Ann Boyda, livestock economist, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. “The program has two interrelated objectives. First, it aims to help farmers analyze their decision-making activities by producing customized economic reports for them. Second, it produces provincial and regional economic benchmarks from the gathered data that can be used by producers, government and industry in making informed decisions.”

Farmers participating in the survey itself receive customized economic reports – a budget sheet, income statement, and analyses of major enterprises like cow-calf, drylot, and crops.

The income and balance statements show the revenue, costs, and profitability of the whole farm, whereas the economic enterprise reports show the physical and financial performance of each contributing enterprise and is available for crops, forage, pasture, cow-calf, drylot and grasser enterprises. Information for enterprises are reported on a per unit output basis (i.e. per bushel, per tonne, per pound weaned) which allows the producer to do a direct comparison with posted market prices. Physical performance indicators, by way of example for cow-calf enterprises, look to reproductive indicators like length of breeding and calving periods; culling, death loss and conception rates; feeding performance as expressed by days on feed and feed use; and, other physical performance indicators such as calf crop percentage and pounds weaned per cow exposed.

Producers interested in the AgriProfit$ are asked to provide information about their operations, such as the type of enterprises and land base. They will be provided with a guide outlining the type of data needed to conduct the analysis including their assets (building, equipment, land investment), liabilities, expenses, revenue, labour, and crop and feed rations and inventories. A business specialist meets with each participant and helps organize and compile the detailed information. This information is then used to generate the farm and enterprise analysis.

“Good records are the basis of sound business,” says Boyda. “Managers understand the importance of this, especially in times of tight margins. Good records are also valuable for developing good business analysis. Producers do a good job of record keeping for tax purposes, but these records are often insufficient to allow for complete business analysis. This information needs to link to non-cash information such as inventories, physical information on feed consumption, and input use. AgriProfit$ provides the framework to make the connection.”

For more information or to apply for AgriProfit$, contact Ann Boyda at 780-422-4088 for beef cattle business analysis, or Rawlin Thangaraj at 780-422-4056 for crops business analysis. More information is also available on AF’s webpage.

The program will be accepting applicants until the end of November.


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