Adapted from the original article that was published in Wisconsin Agriculturist magazine.
As we move into fall, stocker calves will be brought in from pasture and either sold as heavy feeders or transitioned into the feedlot. After a group of stockers has been sold or transitioned it is time to do a closeout evaluation to measure their performance. If you are not familiar with the details of a closeout evaluation, it is a detailed description of a specific group or pen of cattle’s performance including: feed intake, death loss, revenue, expenses and profit or loss. A closeout should be generated each time a group or pen of cattle is sold.
A closeout accomplishes two important tasks: it helps to make sure all inputs and performance information is accounted for and it provides a record for future reference. Farm operators are busy, and it is too easy to unintentionally forget or leave things out if we only work the math in our heads. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Templates are available to complete closeouts by pencil and paper, or with computer programs such as Excel.
Closeouts are much more useful than just determining if a group of cattle made money or not. Over time several closeouts from past groups of cattle can be used to develop a track record and benchmarks for your enterprise. This information can then be used to look at the overall strengths of your operation and opportunities for improvement in the enterprise. In addition, your track record information can be used to do projections for your operation with greater confidence than using industry or regional averages.
The details in a correctly done closeout can help identify why a group did or did not make money. Did the group have higher pharmaceutical costs than your running average? Was their gain better or worse than your long term average? Maybe the cattle did well but repairs were greater than normal, or cattle had to be on dry lot for an extended period. Some years cattle markets and/or feed costs are detrimental to the group of cattle and completing a closeout can identify what happened and what kind of changes could be made for future groups to address shortfalls.
The Extension Stocker Cattle Closeout Spreadsheet helps beef producers with stocker enterprises complete a closeout. This tool is designed to make it easier for producers to complete a closeout for groups of stockers. The spreadsheet is set up to complete calculations and an analysis based on user inputs. It calculates animal performance including rate of gain, death loss, days owned, and total pounds gained per head. Additionally, it calculates income and expenses for the entire group and on a per head basis, per hundred weight of gain basis, and per acre basis. The spreadsheet tool is set up in sections to help itemize expenses such as fencing and pasture costs, purchased and homegrown feed, veterinary and pharmaceutical costs, machinery and equipment costs, and labor costs. It also has a detailed summary page and a condensed one-page summary that can be printed out.
Gadberry, S., Jennings, J., Ward, H., Beck, P., Kutz, B., Troxel, T., Beef Cattle Production- MP184, Chapter 9: Keys to Success in Stocker Programs, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Research and Extension, https://www.uaex.edu/publications/pdf/mp184/Chapter9.pdf
Lehmkuhler, J., October 30, 2018, Considerations for making a profit with stocker cattle, Kentucky Grazing Conference: Turning Grass into Ca$H: Opportunities in Grassland Agriculture 2018, https://uknowledge.uky.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1153&context=ky_grazing
Reviewed by: Ryan Sterry, Amanda Cauffman, and Sandy Stuttgen.