This is a crude, back of envelop approximation based on prices that are external to the farm.
It assumes that the "rancher" will pour 30 bushels of corn into each animal before slaughter. Some of that will be creep-feed early in the animals life. The rest will be to finish the animal to 1300 pound slaughter weight.
It assumes $500/calf cash outlay between the price of the young calf and shipping costs.
It extrapolates the slaughter-costs based on local prices of $0.75 a pound when Michigan minimum wage is approximately $10 per hour.
|Variable cost, per calf, to the beef aging in the cooler|
But that "beef" with a hanging weight of 650 pounds is not all edible meat. In fact, almost half of that is bone, sinew and excess fat. Assuming the butcher can get 350 pounds of edible beef from 650 pounds of hanging weight the variable costs per pound are
There are many feedback mechanisms that make this simple analysis fall apart.
Rapidly rising cattle prices drop the price of calves as producers hedge their bets regarding their ability to fully pass rising prices to the consumer.
Producers might feed less corn to fatten the beef.
A third option is that a family might choose to slaughter and cut-up their own beef which reduces the per-animal cost by at least $480.