The Cost of Range-Fed Beef

It’s not $1.41 per animal unit month, the fee for grazing on public lands administered by the BLM in 2018.

Compare that to the cost of feeding a horse at your ranch.  One bale per week @ $20 per bale, plus some grain @ $20 per sack and you’re pushing $100 per AUM.

One AUM = one cow and calf = one horse = five sheep or goats for a month.

The cost to feed cattle on a ranch is probably less but it’s not $1.41 per AUM.  That explains why the ranchers want access to the HMAs.  There may be other benefits as well, such as the quality and taste of range-fed beef.  (That seems to be the case for free-range eggs, a topic for another post.)

What about the costs of gathers, fertility control, adoption programs, long-term holding and other activities associated with the downsizing of WHB on public lands?

Not to mention the unknown and unknowable costs of losing these icons of freedom, ruggedness and self-reliance.

Those must be added to the basic fee.

An infographic by The Cloud Foundation shows the numbers in 2014.


In 2017, there were 177 HMAs in ten western states covering 26.9 million acres, with 73,000 animals on the range and 44,000 in long-term holding.  BLM spends roughly $50 million per year to care for the animals in holding.  Refer to the presentation by John Ruhs, State Director for BLM in Nevada, at this post.

You won’t be able to reverse the decline by voting for liberals.  They don’t like the idea of private property, they want Americans dependent on government.  In the case of ranching, that means more cattlemen earning a living off public lands, which means greater demand for the removal of WHB on HMAs.

The answer is self-reliance.  Ranchers working their own land.  Horses and burros running wild and free on public lands set aside for them in 1971.

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