Can you provide some guidelines about custom calving? I plan to calve out another producer’s cows. What do I need to consider in terms of feed costs, supplies, labor and other costs?

Following is some information on custom calving prepared in 1995. It needs to be adjusted for changes in labor, fuel, and feed costs. The information is based on interviews with ranchers who are involved in this type of management agreement. In custom finishing yards, there is usually a yardage charge to cover equipment, fuel, labor, depreciation and overhead charges. It is usually in the range of 30- to 35-cents per head per day. In addition, there is a markup on feed. You will notice in the information below there is an incentive for live calves at birth. The key when you get into these arrangements is that you have the arrangement written down and both agree so that there is no misunderstanding when its time to settle up.

What The Cow Owner Looks For
Good Reputation
Skilled Manager
Good Facilities/Records
Adequate Labor
Reasonable Feed Price

What The Cow Manager Looks For
Good Reputation
Productive Cattle
Uniform Groups
Incentives – Live calf; Financing Assistance

A Good Agreement
All Names
Accurate Description of Property Being Shared/Leased
Start and Ending Dates
Amount of Payment and When

What Makes a Custom/Share Work?
Simple, Accurate Agreement
Each party writes in own words.
Incentive For Good Work

Custom Calving – Example
Winters Cows on Stalks – 27-cents a day
Nov. 1 – May 1
Hay at $50 a ton
$30 per Live Calf May 1.
Three years this rancher has been in this arrangement

Custom Calving – Example
Has Cows Only During Calving
60 Days, 300 head
Owner Pays All Feed
Manager Gets $2,000 per month plus $5 per Live Calf.
Manager has been in arrangement for four years.

Custom Calving – Example
Night Calves For Neighbor (within five miles)
300 Heifers, 65 Days
$40 Night

Custom Calving – Example
Calved 400 Heifers – six to seven weeks
Used Owner’s Facilities
$3,000 plus $5 per Live Calf to Pasture
“Calves Hauled to Pasture each week”
Owner pays Vet and Vaccines.
Manager Weighted and Tagged Each Calf

Custom Calving Only
Estimate Labor at $8-10 Hour
Incentive of $5 per Live Calf.
200 Head per person – Heifers; 400 Head per person – Cows
Cost = $12-$15 per head for large groups 200-400 head
Less than one hour per head.
Could be $40 for small groups less than 50