Peak performance important to cow-calf operations amid pandemic-induced price fluctuations

AgriLife Extension program offers financial, production analysis and benchmarking to identify opportunities, weaknesses

With the COVID-19 pandemic, cattle prices have been on a roller coaster. Now is a good time to analyze performance to make sure your operation is as efficient as possible, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialist.

Cows and calves grazing on green grass help performance

Texas A&M AgriLife offers tool to analyze beef cattle operation performance. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo)

Pancho Abello, AgriLife Extension economist, Vernon, said the agency’s long-running Beef Cattle Standard Performance Analysis, SPA, program is a good way for cattle producers to look at their bottom line and make adjustments to their operations.

“Opportunities for change within the beef herd begin with learning where you are,” Abello said. “Once areas of opportunities, weaknesses and vulnerability are identified, then you can find ways to get where you want to be. The SPA analysis is the place to start.”

Long-standing program helps analyze performance over time

The SPA program was initiated by AgriLife Extension specialists in cooperation with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the National Integrated Resource Management Coordinating Committee. Its goal is to help cow-calf producers reduce their cost of production and improve their efficiency.

“SPA is the only analysis tool that has historically been used in Texas to evaluate both cow-calf production and economic results following the Farm Financial Standard Guidelines,” Abello said. “Thanks to SPA, we were able to create a unique historical integrated production and finance benchmark system for the beef cattle industry in our state.”

This database allows producers to compare their herd’s results with a consistent industry benchmark for similar operations across different regions, production years or production systems, he said. Producers can track their yearly progress to achieve their goals by successfully analyzing their production and financial performance.

The SPA process

AgriLife Extension has prepared software and worksheets to help producers of any size implement SPA. These tools help organize production and financial data into a focused, well-defined performance analysis of the total farm or ranch and the cow-calf enterprise.

“Producers will complete an in-depth financial and production analysis of their cow herd with the help of AgriLife Extension using a standardized process. However, assembling the necessary production and financial data is the most important step in the process,” Abello said.

The standardized finance, marketing and production performance measuring system allows operators to use performance measures such as reproduction, production, grazing and raised feed land, marketing and economic performance.

Participating producers are given a “report analysis” that shows how they rank with other producers in the database, Abello said. The analysis also helps identify potential areas of improvement. When the ranch’s data is pooled in the benchmark database, the individual data is not disclosed, but regional performance averages and ranges can be observed

Abello said the creators of the program designed SPA for producers to use on a yearly basis.

“Using a SPA is not just a one-time event,” he said. “It is an annual process that will help cattle producers improve their enterprise profitability by analyzing trends and seeing the results of the decisions they have made.”


For more information regarding news from the Department of Animal Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas A&M University, please email or call (979) 845-1542.



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