Cattle production : the cost in Missouri of producing a steer ready for the feed lot
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If one desires to know the cost of making a locomotive he would not think of going to anyone other than a locomotive manufacturer. If one wishes to know the cost of constructing a building he goes to a contractor. Desiring to know the cost of producing a steer, accordingly I have gone to the producer of such animals, the farmer. It is a fairly easy thing for the engine maker to figure out the cost of making a given engine for the price of steel is about constant and Trade's Unions fix the price of labor, hence to get the cost is merely a mathematical problem. Neither is it very difficult for a contractor to figure the cost of a building when the dimensions are given, for, like the locomotive builder, his materials are about constant and the price of labor fixed. It might seem to some that still easier is the task of the farmer in figuring the cost of a steer, but such is not the case. Really he has a much more difficult problem in figuring the cost of producing an animal worth at most only a few dollars than has the engineer or the contractor in arriving at the cost of an engine or a building worth several thousand dollars. The farmer's task is next to impossible so varied are the kinds of feed used and so changeable are their values. Then it is difficult to tell just what per cent of the time of his workmen is given to cattle production so varied are the industries he carries on. And when a man thinks he has arrived at the solution of the problem once for all, a change in the kind of season renders his figures valueless for the next year and perhaps for years to come. Then again the cost for one man is not a good criterion of the cost for his neighbor for just over the fence in his neighbor's field entirely different kinds of feeds and methods may be used which make the cost altogether different. It is with a full understanding of these difficulties that I have begun the task of collecting data on this subject. I shall have to rely almost entirely upon the data obtained by sending out inquiries to the f
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