Cow-Calf profit for newbie!

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Thomas32

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I don't think any of us can really help without some accurate numbers. 90 cows, 100 acres and 5 acres of hay. At least one of those numbers must be wrong. Maybe you could visit the place and do a count before you make any decisions.
I know it is about 100 acres, and he said it’s about 90 on average. He uses only one bull and the bull stays with them year round and he sells the calves as they come. I’m not sure how much hay he has to purchase on top of the 5 acres he’s been bailing
 
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Thomas32

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If he has 90 cows, then first thing to do would be to get rid of the bull, and get 3 Brangus bulls. One bull for every 30 cows. If he has been doing year round calving.. which he has if he has 90 cows, and 1 bull that stays in with them all the time... then you gonna have to let the cows stay open til the last one has calved. You are probably gonna wanna shoot for spring calves, Feb and March.. so you'd wanna put your bulls in the herd 1st of May. That way you can sell the calves in the fall before you have to start feeding. You wouldn't want fall calves with 90 cows on 100 acres. Or, to prevent having to leave some of the cows un-bred for a year or so, you could breed 30-40 in January for some fall calves, and the other 50-60 in May spring calves. If you did this, you would only need 2 bulls.
Thanks for the advice! I’m going to talk to him more in depth about the different methods and see why he chooses to do the one bull year round. Maybe it’s just easier and he isn’t necessarily doing this for profit?
 

Brute 23

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Thanks for the advice! I’m going to talk to him more in depth about the different methods and see why he chooses to do the one bull year round. Maybe it’s just easier and he isn’t necessarily doing this for profit?
The good thing is if he has been running like that the cows are naturally in a rotation to be bred. More bulls do add more money and headache in a lot of cases. Down side is he may not be keeping up with who is calving and how often. I would be sure all the cows have ear tags and see if he will help you start logging the cows as the calve. Knowing which calf is their calf is not important now just what cow has a calf, roughly what day its born, or even just write the month and year is close enough. Start logging that in excel or a notebook or some thing. I'd write down any calves you see sucking on cows in the pasture now with a date and note like #100 bull or #200 heifer. Pics on the phone work great because you can get a pic of the cow, its tag, the calf, and it puts a date on the pic.

That is one of the biggest killers of profit... cant have open cows running around. It takes very little effort to be sure of that one thing.
 

JRGidaho`

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Hey everyone! Little back story, currently working as an engineer, make good money but wife wants to move back to her hometown to be with and take care of family. Her grandpa wants us to take over a roughly 90 cattle ranch on about 100 acres in SC due to very old age. He really doesn’t know how much he makes a year off the cattle. I’ve tried researching but have come up with a lot of different answers. We are prepared to put in as much work as it takes but are wondering if one or both of us will need another job as well. Roughly what do people make profit wise per head if everything is paid off? I appreciate any and all replies!
Hey Thomas, I have come a little late to the conversation, but here are some things to think about.
1) Feed cost is the number 1 determinant of profitability in the cow-calf business. This is pretty well true regardless of where you are located in US.. In SC you should be able to graze year around with effective stocking policy and grazing management. According to Ranching for Profit records, the best predictor of probability of profitability is number of days hay is fed.
2) It is performance and profitability per acre that matters in ranching, not performance per animal. There is an inverse relationship between individual cow size and whole ranch profitability. The larger the cow, the lower the profitability.
3) Calving in the winter months usually drives up cost feed costs and reduces profitability. You should always plan for calves to be born on green growing grass. Never while hay feeding.
4) As others have already pointed out, when your father-in-law says he runs '90', I suspect that is 90 head of combined stock and not 90 cow-calf pairs. If he has 90 cow-calf pairs, he is probably buying feed for several months.
5) The idea of direct marketing grassfed beef can be a good plan, but recognize in a conception-to-consumer (cow-calf/growing/finishing) grassfed beef business, about 60-65% of your total grazing resource will still be going to cow maintenance, so the volume of GFB you sell off the farm will be limited.
6) Layering pasture poultry or hogs with the CC operation can generate additional revenue streams. Feed brought in for those other enterprises contributes to the overall fertility of the farm.

Definitely have your wife keep her day job for the benefits.
Can you do free-lance engineering projects from your home.
BTW, 90 cows should never be more than an average of 2 hours/day actual working so it is far from being a full time job.
 

Pep Union

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Investing in the cattle business seems risky in recent months. Artificial meat advocates can produce a disease at any time that will cause radical decline in meat sales.

 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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"Newbies" call all cattle "cows". As others have guessed, I "think" Grandpa is running 40-50 cows (mature bovines). Grandpa is also probably running the bull year round because it is simple. But - as suggested, he probably has no idea what cows actually calve each and every year. A producer's goal is for every cow to produce a calf every 12 months.
A well-managed (IMO) herd calves in a specific time period - generally a 60 day calving "season" - bull is only WITH the cows for 60 days. That way you have a specific time to vaccinate/deworm cows and a specific time to vaccinate/deworm calves. All calves get weaned at the same time.
Grandpa is just looking at his calves - picking out the biggest ones several times a year - load them up and send to sale barn. The mommas of those calves may or may not be pregnant, he probably does not know.
This is all assumption, but may be quite accurate. When he needs some money, he sells some calves.
Whether you can "make a living" on the farm also depends on how much spending you like to do. LOL Making a living on a farm also entails LOVING to live on a farm. That is where we are soooo much richer than city folks. It is a great LIFE.
 

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