Many consumers want to buy locally produced beef, and University of Missouri Extension economists can help producers deliver.

Beef producers who want to finish their cattle on their farms now have access to new resources from MU Extension beef specialists to determine their finishing budgets.

The On-Farm Finishing Budget publication and spreadsheet tools released during May — National Beef Month — provide beef producers with resources to help them make the best decision possible when considering retaining their calves past weaning, said MU research project analyst Drew Kientzy.

“Volatility in beef prices and supplies have more producers considering the option of marketing their beef directly to local consumers,” said Kientzy, who designed the spreadsheet models and drafted the guide. “We hope this tool helps producers decide if they should finish their calves and how best to sell the animals when ready for slaughter.”

The Live Sale budget sheets allow farmers to customize an enterprise budget for their beef operation raising calves from birth to slaughter weights. The Freezer Beef budget sheet allows farmers to evaluate selling animals directly to consumers as whole, half or quarter carcasses.

A Retail Cuts sheet supplements the Freezer Beef sheet, allowing producers to evaluate selling their animals directly to consumers as individual cuts with custom pricing by meat cut.

These new tools help producers understand their profit margins when they price beef for local markets, said Jennifer Lutes, MU Extension agriculture business specialist.

“It’s no longer a guessing game; producers can now make pricing decisions based on their own production costs,” Lutes said.

The publication is co-authored by Lutes and Ryan Milhollin, MU assistant professor of agricultural business and policy.

The publication and spreadsheet tools are available for free download at

Sources: Jennifer Lutes, MU Extension agriculture business specialist; Ryan Milhollin, MU assistant professor of agricultural business and policy; Drew Kientzy, MU research project analyst