Greg Judy and Profit per Acre

Help Support CattleToday:

Muletrack

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 27, 2017
Messages
109
Reaction score
72
Am a fan of Greg Judy on YouTube and recently read his book "Comeback Farms." Anyone have any ideas about Regenerative Grazing and downsizing to a more efficient type of cow -- or on the "Profit per Acre" vs. the "Pounds per Calf" model?
 

Little Joe

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 23, 2019
Messages
365
Reaction score
336
Location
N Central Arkansas
Am a fan of Greg Judy on YouTube and recently read his book "Comeback Farms." Anyone have any ideas about Regenerative Grazing and downsizing to a more efficient type of cow -- or on the "Profit per Acre" vs. the "Pounds per Calf" model?
I haven't done any study myself but I have read studies that compared weaning weights to size of cows and the economics of keeping said cow. In the studies I read basically said that a cow over about 1250lbs was less profitable when comparing how much grass or hay they required in comparison to the extra pounds of weaning weight on the calf and the fact you could graze more 1000-1250 lb cows in the same area as the large framed cows therefore actually weaning more pounds at the end of the day.
I also read some studies that said large frame cows will have more fly problems therefore requiring a fly control. The study said that breeds and types of cattle have a predetermined number of hairs and the larger they are the less hair per square inch therefore allowing flies better access to the hide, there were exceptions to this in certain breeds such as brahman if I remember right.
I watch alot of Greg Judy myself, I don't mob graze but I rotate as much as I can. I'm putting in more tire tanks this spring so I can tighten up my grazing more. I personally don't want cows over 1250lbs.
 

BFE

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 10, 2017
Messages
416
Reaction score
110
Location
Southeast Illinois
I believe he makes a lot of valid points. I'm not too into the 900 pound cow though, 12-1300 seems to be where my best ones wind up at. There are exceptions, had a little 850 lb shorthorn that would wean a calf that weighed within 50lb of the group, and she was rarely at the hay ring, usually out picking instead. If they were all like her, maybe, but most of my dink cows have raised dink calves.

I know for a fact there's something to giving grass rest. Not many people have the time to move them 1-3 times a day, I sure don't. All my pastures are small and require hauling, so I can't make full use of them as well as I'd like without buying more bulls and keeping smaller groups, but I've seen good benefit from putting cows on cornstalks in the winter and letting pastures rest from constant picking and foot traffic. I don't like to see them in to mud up to their brisket, so a small sacrifice lot is out for me. Feeding in GoBob monsters now, and move the feeders every time, but building an unroller is in the plans. I'm also with Greg, buy nutrients (hay) and haul them into your farm. Can buy it as cheap as raise it, get feed and build soil at the same time for the same money.
 

kentuckyguy

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 6, 2016
Messages
574
Reaction score
68
I also follow Greg and really enjoy watching him. What you have to remember is most of his cows are only 950-1050lbs. Probably a frame score 4-4.5.

He has mentioned several times that any bigger cattle will not finish on grass by the age of 2.

Many will tell you that his cows are too small and you will get docked for frame size. I agree with that in the aspect of selling them at the local sale barn. You must have another market to maximize profits from these type of cattle. I also believe you could still make money with cattle like his at the sale barn because input cost are so low with his type of management.

I’ve heard him say many times that longer legged and heavier steers won’t finish on grass in any reasonable time frame. Also the cows won’t hold condition.

Pretty sure he mentions not wanting a bull that weighs over 1300lbs.
 

Stocker Steve

Well-known member
Joined
May 2, 2005
Messages
10,636
Reaction score
251
Location
Central Minnesota
The cow consultants have a new theme every couple years. They have gone from rotational grazing to legumes to mob grazing to smaller cows to regenerative grazing to soil health to direct marketing... Then you have the multi specie pasture thing. Bottom line is cows eat a lot and have a low gross margin.

I have met Greg twice. He is very enthusiastic, and his wife is special.
 
Last edited:

Dusty Britches

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 8, 2005
Messages
1,138
Reaction score
157
Location
Branchville, Texas
Kit Pharo recommends a similar concept - his cows are 1100 pounds and wean more pounds per acre than 1300-1400 pound cows. I've noticed that when I had 1400 pound cows, they weaned 7 month old calves that weighed 600 pounds. I now have 1000-1100 pound cows that are weaning 7 month old calves that weigh 600 pounds. Thing is I can run more cows on the acreage so I wean more calves = more pounds per acre.

My 2 year old bulls are about 1800 pounds and as they age they increase to about 2200 pounds. A 1300 pound bull is tiny.
 

Bigfoot

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 16, 2012
Messages
12,958
Reaction score
222
Location
Kentucky
I've read his "stuff" and watched his videos. I wonder how many cows I could run on the same acres with hay?
 

1982vett

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 3, 2008
Messages
9,327
Reaction score
97
Location
Central Texas
Bigfoot, your workload increases when you have to feed hay. Most don’t include that when the figure their “profit” which ever way they sort it. These days, I’m more in the camp of making the most profit per calf raised with the least amount of exerted effort possible. If you destock to that level, the grass will take care of itself as long as it rains.

About the only thing that doesn’t change is the speed in which fence post rot off....🤷‍♂️
 

Rydero

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 22, 2019
Messages
367
Reaction score
311
Location
Manitoba, Canada
Haven't watched a lot of him - I think he's either a major influence of or to Steve Kenyon who's stuff I read so tends to be a little repetitive. I may have to read his book though.

It's good to be having the conversations - profit/acre vs lbs/calf, the various types and intensities of rotational grazing, regenerative ag... I agree with Stocker Steve the people making money talking about farming have to have something to say so we need to think for ourselves and do our own math too.
 

FungusProudKY31

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 1, 2020
Messages
112
Reaction score
95
He has mentioned several times that any bigger cattle will not finish on grass by the age of 2.
Dead wrong.
Many will tell you that his cows are too small and you will get docked for frame size. I agree with that in the aspect of selling them at the local sale barn. You must have another market to maximize profits from these type of cattle. I also believe you could still make money with cattle like his at the sale barn because input cost are so low with his type of management. Dead wrong - start with a $250 discount. Try selling lite calves at less than $0.90/lb and do some math with or without your shoes on.

I’ve heard him say many times that longer legged and heavier steers won’t finish on grass in any reasonable time frame. Also the cows won’t hold condition. Longer legged and heavier are not linked.

I have a friend who targeted the grassfed market. His buyer disappeared. He was left holding the bag full of low value small framed cattle. You either keep a wide market option or go down with the ship. Just depends on how much you can afford to lose and if it is a hobby or a business.

Every salesman has a pitch: My widget is better than yours, I'm smarter than you are, I've got the inside scoop, I know the winning lottery numbers, my dog ain't got fleas, ... My pitch: The markets will humble and break you if you blindly follow a widget salesman.
 

Dave

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 12, 2004
Messages
9,481
Reaction score
808
Location
Baker County, Oregon
I read a couple of his books. Got some good ideas but didn't agree with everything he had to say. As I often say it is a big country and conditions vary a lot. What works great in one area might not be so great in another. Personally I gleaned more good ideas from Jim Gerrish than from Greg. Jim was actually a poster here for a while. I don't think most people realized who he was when he was here.
 

bigbluegrass

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 11, 2011
Messages
348
Reaction score
67
Location
Northern KY
I read "Comeback Farm" in 2009 and did my best to incorporate his ideas. Some worked for me. Some did not. I think everyone needs to do their own math and experiments. My climate is not too different than MO, but there were things he talked about in the book that I just couldn't make work. I do many things similar to how Greg does, but with enough differences that I can't say I just use his methods.

I started moving my cows daily just as an experiment in 2009. I had very little infrastructure in place. Very few tanks. No permanent electric fence. I used all temporary posts and reels. Even with that it only takes around 15 minutes to move the cows on a normal day. I have continued to do daily moves during the growing season since 2009. It has, in my opinion, made the biggest and fastest difference. The grass responded quickly and grew more aggressively. However, I only run a fraction of the #/acre of live weight that Greg suggests. I run my cows closer to the suggestions of Jim Gerrish. I find the take half/leave half and come back in 30-60 days works better for me. When I increase my density, I ended up with less grass and more "weeds". That is just my experience. Your mileage will vary.

I hope you can find a way to incorporate some of his ideas.
 

ClinchValley86

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 8, 2019
Messages
222
Reaction score
62
Location
East Tennessee
Ive taken part of my management approach from him as well as others. There is something about the regenerative approach. And it may be that it has worked for 1000's of years.

I agree with BigBlueGrass, moving my cows daily has been the best thing we've done. In 3 years, it looks like a completely different farm. We have very little and or poor infrastructure as well. Grass is gangbusters and very diverse. Not a plant that isn't eaten. Even the blackberries and horse nettle are nibbled on.

Allan Williams, Jim Gerrish, Will Harris, Alan Savory, Russ Wilson, they all have valuable insights and experience.

Dr Elaine Ingham is a soil scientist who will blow your mind. Very pro regenerative fact based information.

Also check out Ray Archuletta - Dude is awesome. He's more about cover crops and soil carbon. But the principles are the same. Also a soil scientist. Used to work for the government. Very much worth hearing out.

It just makes a lot of sense to me. But its showing itself to be worth the effort.

Dr. Christine Jones -Anorher soil scientist. Very smart. Carbon/nutrient cycling stuff.
 

Rydero

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 22, 2019
Messages
367
Reaction score
311
Location
Manitoba, Canada
It seems like a high percentage of people writing books etc do the direct marketing thing which I understand from a perspective of trying to maximize profits. It's just that we can't all be (many don't want to be) in that business. I view it as being a little irrelevant because direct marketing meat is a seperate enterprise. I'm interested in the cattle business and how to do that efficiently.

I read How Not To Go Broke Ranching recently and in it the author talked an awful lot about not going after high weaning weight. A large percentage of the argument.was based on the idea that high weaning weight = big cows. What if you cheat? Don't keep replacements - keep buying in small/moderate sized cows, use a terminal bull from a breed that grows faster than most, fresh well water, above average pasture quality and management? Why wouldn't I want to wean big calves? Do the arguments for more smaller cows account for the fact I have to buy/retain more animals? As someone who grows their herd often I'll point out there's a cost/head of either deffered income or borrowed money associated with each cow. In fact a lot of costs - vaccines, tags, labour to process cows/calves, selling fees at auction are per head so why would I specifically want a smaller calf?

I like the principles of regenerative ag. We need to look beyond the status quo. There are natural ways to amend our soil. If we can sequester carbon as a result there's a plus side to that. The answer to doing something that doesn't make money isn't to do more of it. I won't exchange one flavour of Kool aid for another though. Everything should be looked at objectively.
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 9, 2004
Messages
11,935
Reaction score
560
Location
Central Upstate New York
Kit Pharo - haven't heard that name in years. Used to see his name pop up every where. People bought into his program buying his tiny bulls. That faded out quickly. don't know what he is preaching now, but back then he had like 2.5 - 3 frame bulls.
@Rydero you are spot on. I don't know what research people are quoting, because the more recent things I have read are backing away from the "small" cow theory - ie small cows, more cows = more weaned pounds. More cows is more labor - period. Labor has to account for a lot on your farm. Bigger cows don't eat more on a linear basis. It's not like an 800# cow eats 1/2 as much as a 1600# cow.
There are a lot of farms that could not handle the size of my cows (average around 1550#). My farm grows grass - a lot of grass. I rotate daily in the early spring, then gradually go to 3-5 days. I have neighbors ask how I get my pastures so clean looking.
Of course, my money is not made by pounds of calf. So, I am in a different situation. But, my steers are my cash flow and I sure wouldn't have the feedlot buyer begging for my steers if they were dinks.
 

shaz

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
1,879
Reaction score
145
Location
Middle Tn
It seems like a high percentage of people writing books etc do the direct marketing thing which I understand from a perspective of trying to maximize profits. It's just that we can't all be (many don't want to be) in that business. I view it as being a little irrelevant because direct marketing meat is a seperate enterprise. I'm interested in the cattle business and how to do that efficiently.

I read How Not To Go Broke Ranching recently and in it the author talked an awful lot about not going after high weaning weight. A large percentage of the argument.was based on the idea that high weaning weight = big cows. What if you cheat? Don't keep replacements - keep buying in small/moderate sized cows, use a terminal bull from a breed that grows faster than most, fresh well water, above average pasture quality and management? Why wouldn't I want to wean big calves? Do the arguments for more smaller cows account for the fact I have to buy/retain more animals? As someone who grows their herd often I'll point out there's a cost/head of either deffered income or borrowed money associated with each cow. In fact a lot of costs - vaccines, tags, labour to process cows/calves, selling fees at auction are per head so why would I specifically want a smaller calf?

I like the principles of regenerative ag. We need to look beyond the status quo. There are natural ways to amend our soil. If we can sequester carbon as a result there's a plus side to that. The answer to doing something that doesn't make money isn't to do more of it. I won't exchange one flavour of Kool aid for another though. Everything should be looked at objectively.
With regard to regenerative agriculture I would say that if you are grazing then your're regenerative. You're keeping the ground covered, new grass is growing and what breaks off the grass roots is stored in the ground forever if you keep it covered. Put it another way - what's your organic matter % in your pasture vs your yard?
My 2 cents
 

Little Joe

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 23, 2019
Messages
365
Reaction score
336
Location
N Central Arkansas
I hate driving by some farms where the pasture looks like you run over it with a riding mower with the deck set as low as it would go, I just wonder how often they have to worm to keep those cows from being eat up and some I can tell the cows are bad wormy, rough hair coats and thin. I don't think one has to be as extensive as Judy but I think you have to do some kind of rotation or very, very low stocking density. The grass has to have some sort of rest period. Right now I rotate between 3-7 days depending on the paddock and access to water. Like I said I plan to install more water so I can get to daily moves. The rep from NRCS came and looked at my place last February about the waterers, she stated that I already had more grazable grass coming out of winter than alot of others around would have mid April and that's with just rotating 3-7 days and providing a sacrifice area for haying. I'm anxious to see what it'll be after a few years of daily moves. New place I bought also has fescue so I plan to stockpile to get down to very little haying. Right now I've still got some poor areas so I don't mind feeding more hay to help those areas, I buy my fertilized hay from a neighbor for $25/ bale delivered, can't do much better than that.
 

KAstocker

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 24, 2020
Messages
106
Reaction score
77
Location
Western Missouri
Kit Pharo recommends a similar concept - his cows are 1100 pounds and wean more pounds per acre than 1300-1400 pound cows. I've noticed that when I had 1400 pound cows, they weaned 7 month old calves that weighed 600 pounds. I now have 1000-1100 pound cows that are weaning 7 month old calves that weigh 600 pounds. Thing is I can run more cows on the acreage so I wean more calves = more pounds per acre.

My 2 year old bulls are about 1800 pounds and as they age they increase to about 2200 pounds. A 1300 pound bull is tiny.
What kind of a dock do you get on your smaller frame calves?
 
Top