Custom grazing calves

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kenny thomas

Well-known member
Nov 16, 2008
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SW tip of Virginia
Anyone custom grazing someone elses calves and getting paid by the pound of gain? I am looking to put in some lightweight steers and let someone else graze them. I would buy them, and get them ready(shots worming, weaning if needed) and do all trucking. Just don't have enough time to do all that I want to do. What are you getting or paying? What's included?
That's what I trying to set up for this fall, I have heard 12.50 mo/hd (which is not worth it), 15 mo/hd, and .50/lbs. which is very good money. However I have nothing set now and still don't know what all I would be responsible for. I can run them on wheat in cotton stalks and wheat planted in soybean fields and corn stalks. I am also only 17 miles south of Interstate 40 so for the calves going west we are a good stopping off point and not out of the way.
How many 4wt calves could you run? What do you think you will charge per lb. of gain. Can you graze all winter on the wheat? If so your costs per lb. of gain would be small wouldn't it?
kenny thomas":k3bfeilv said:
How many 4wt calves could you run? What do you think you will charge per lb. of gain. Can you graze all winter on the wheat? If so your costs per lb. of gain would be small wouldn't it?
I can go with several hundred 4wt calves (as far as available land I could push 1000 but from a management standpoint I don't need but 2-300 this year). I can also run smaller amounts. and keep them separate this is just a total amount. I can start taking calves in Nov. and they need to start leaving in Feb. and all need to be gone by late Mar. As far as charge per lb. that can be negotiated once I know all that I am responsible for. I'll PM my info.
I recently got a book written by Greg Judy called No Risk Ranching. It's all about custom grazing. In it he gets $.33/lb. of gain. A friend of mine has done some contract grazing for $.40/lb. I think Greg Judy's system has it where each individual calf is weighed at the beginning and the end, and is paid on that. Calves that die aren't part of the equation. On my friend's, they weigh the group as the com in and as they go out and he is paid on the difference, so a dead calf is a loss of poundage.
I like to read Greg Judys books. A lot of info even if I don't use all of it. A friend was traveling through Missouri 2 weeks ago and went by his home farm. Did not get a tour but said there were a lot of weeds. Guess we all can learn something. To him maybe the weeds are feed. A lot of good ideas in his books though.
The way I have grazed here runs from .30-.40 according to what is included. Weighed together before and after.
I've got some here now. Called a friend who's done it more, he said .35 to.45 a pound, so I asked for .40. They are grazing and I take 'em some range pellets (1/2 a bag twice a week) just to keep 'em coming. Weighed the lot as a whole. They also wrote a check for a rental bull, so we picked him up and brought him to the cows.
The pasture they're in has our well that's a little moody, so having to plead with that thing is the biggest aggrivation.
I guess the big problem I have with trying to custom graze for locals is the look I would get by going up to someone and saying, "I want you to pay me for letting your cows graze my pastures." Everyone around here either buys land or leases. I suppose if someone moved in and wanted more cows than they bought property for, it might work, but otherwise...
I didn't solicit - friend didn't have a good place to put them and I did. She didn't want to come check on them all the time, so gain seemed the fairest way to reach a price that was fair to both of us.
I lease land also, pretty cheap, but time is the limiting part for me. I do not try it for cows but for calves it works. Finding the right person who will really take care of them is the problem.
People once looked at me strange also. I was one of the first in this area to rotational graze, AI, test hay, overseed pastures, ect. Still look at me strange when I tell them I graze 11 months a year. In order to save money I will try anything once. If it works ok, if it doesn't I move on to the next thing.
farmwriter- wasn't saying you were soliciting. I was just thinking out loud about my situation. I'm hopeing I can get into it like that.

Kenny- I know how you feel. I used to get told all the time "that will never work." I found out that it DID work, but now I don't bother talking to anyone else about it. They just don't understand.
Or when they ask you how your pastures are so green or so thick, or how you get you calves looking so good, but they don't like the answer you give tehm. They just want to know what type of fertilizer, or feed, or fly repellant, or mineral you use, as if that's the magic answer.
The ones I'm grazing are heifers just over the 1 yr mark. We were in such a drought last year the girls just didn't get the start they needed. Since the owner's pasture was so overworked and she didn't have another patch suitable for them, the grass hasn't caught up and she was giving them feed every day trying to build them up where she felt comfortable turning them in with mama cows. They still looked a little hungry despite feed co$t$, and we've got more pasture than cows, so everything sort of fell together.
Cows look much better than they did when they got here a month ago. We'll see how it all works out.

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