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Livestock Compass

Livestock Compass is a decision support tool designed to help diversified livestock farmers understand their costs of production and evaluate the profitability of their various animal enterprises and market channels. It a free, downloadable Excel file.  Livestock Compass enables farmers to make strategic decisions to adjust prices, reduce costs, shift market channel focus, reduce or drop unprofitable enterprises and expand production of their most profitable ventures based on their own farm data. The 2023 version includes a new Farm Set Up page allowing you to customize the spreadsheet to your specific needs in terms of what animals you raise, the feeds and pastures you utilize, and your specific marketing channels.

Download Livestock Compass

A major update has been completed in January 2024 with numerous enhancements over previous versions. 

Livestock Compass is an Excel spreadsheet. It has been created, formatted, and protected so that it does not require advanced computer skills to use. If you are new or unfamiliar to Excel spreadsheets, we recommend learning the very basics of Excel prior to using this tool. This amounts to the ability to navigate within an Excel spreadsheet workbook and enter data.

Follow the link below to download the tool. It is free to access and use. We do require that you answer a few questions to help us understand who is using the tool and to provide an email address so that when we update or improve the tool we can notify users.

This tool was conceived and designed by John Hendrickson and Jim Munsch for the University of Wisconsin. Questions or comments can be addressed to John Hendrickson at

Download the New Livestock Compass here
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Is the juice worth the squeeze?

Livestock Compass organizes farm information about financial and production outcomes to give a producer a factual basis for making management decisions to improve profitability. It helps a producer:

  • identify inefficiencies in production,
  • decide what feeds to grow on the farm and which to buy from others,
  • decide whether to raise young stock or buy stock,
  • accurately monitor cost of production,
  • set prices in various marketing channels, and
  • select the best marketing channels to pursue.

Once a user has one year of data as a baseline, the tool can also be used to predict the outcomes of different farm scenarios and assess progress toward financial goals.

Livestock Compass is especially helpful for diversified operations raising more than one species because it can help identify which animal enterprises are making money and which might need some attention. Livestock enterprises that the tool accommodates include: beef or bison, pork, lamb, goats, chickens for meat, laying hens, and turkeys or ducks. It also includes tables to understand the costs and returns of up to 6 market channels based on how you sell your animals and or meat products.

Livestock Compass points the way to profitability!


A tutorial video on the Livestock Compass is available here. This video walks you through this decision support tool so that you can begin entering our farm data and actively manage your farm to improve financial returns.

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