How did you get into cattle business?

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You grew up?🫢😳. Hope I never do!

62 now, 2:45 am and I am off on a 4 hour drive to the cow sale. Retarded….
You have to grow older but one doesn't have to grow up.

72, up at 4:45. As soon as it gets daylight out I will feed my stupid cows. Then load up a cow who lost her calf and off to the sale. I hope to be back home before dark.
 
Retired from the Army and my wife and I had the same idea. After seeing alot of the world and how the rest live. Buy land, 'cuz they aint makin' no more of it! Lived in florida for a dozen years or so with a work in progress retirement home in the country. Moved to the retirement home when it was finished. Bought the farm next door, then hit by a tornado. Took the home, car, horse barn and fences. Replaced the fences, bought the farm next door again and built my dream home. Went to an auction bought my wife 1 pair and one heavy bred for mothers day a few years back. Had the first calf on hat fathers day. Been running ever since. Have 16 at this time. Best job I love to hate! I have never made so little and worked so hard or been happier at any time in my life... and they make her happy. Great way to spend retirement.
 
My family has farmed in some way for as many generations as I know of. My mom and dad's dads were both oldest boys in their familie on row crop farms in the delta of eastern Arkansas, my dad's dad grew up during the depression on their cotton farm. My dad's dad row crop farmed a little and kept hogs, chickens, milk cows and worked a day job as a mechanic. Mom's dad wanted nothing to do with farming after grown so he drove a truck for a living. Both had younger brothers who became big row crop farmers and farmed my great grandparents land. I always wanted to be a row crop farmer when I was a kid but it's hard to borrow that kinda money to start if your immediate family is not row cropping. I always loved having livestock as a kid, riding horses and playing cowboy. I grew up next to my dad's parents and they bought me goats, chickens, ducks and some calves. Got an FSA youth loan at 17 and bought 5 bred cows and a bull, no real cattle experience. It was a disaster and I lost money coming and going but I paid off my loans and decided then I'd never borrow money to farm again. When I borrowed that money I had planned on never getting a job and making a living working with cattle, reality set in quick. In my adult life I've kept mama cows from time to time but my favorite part of cattle is finishing and direct selling beef. I've learned alot over the years of what not to do and it has made me a better cattleman, all at a cost, still have a ton more to learn.
 
Retired from the Army and my wife and I had the same idea. After seeing alot of the world and how the rest live. Buy land, 'cuz they aint makin' no more of it! Lived in florida for a dozen years or so with a work in progress retirement home in the country. Moved to the retirement home when it was finished. Bought the farm next door, then hit by a tornado. Took the home, car, horse barn and fences. Replaced the fences, bought the farm next door again and built my dream home. Went to an auction bought my wife 1 pair and one heavy bred for mothers day a few years back. Had the first calf on hat fathers day. Been running ever since. Have 16 at this time. Best job I love to hate! I have never made so little and worked so hard or been happier at any time in my life... and they make her happy. Great way to spend retirement.
You still in Florida? Or are you in Camden, TN?
 
I got into the cattle business because I'm the best wife ever.;) Mr TC and I were always in the banking industry (he was primarily electronic banking, credit/debit). Moved from Kansas to Wisconsin to Arizona to Wisconsin to Arizona and finally Texas. He was CEO/Pres of a company in Austin and finally sold it to Bank of America in 2006. And promptly announced he was going to retire (at 54). Followed by wanting to buy some land where he could hunt & fish. Okay, then, whatever you want, and we bought a section back in KS, relatively close to my family. Followed by "Let's buy some cows!". Da hell??? I'd never even been near a cow. But whatever honey, you do you and I'll go get a part time job in town. Or not! See how that turned out? I literally went from Prada to poo. Dove right in, had numerous mentors, worked closely and learned from my vet, took classes offered by K-State extension, made mistakes and learned from them. Never been happier!
You're a fast learner TC.

Ken
 
Grew up on a dairy in Ks. Sold the dairy just before they dropped the base and expanded our horse operation. Showed and trained Appaloosa horses all over the nation in early 70's. At that point marriage and kids sent me to the oilfield of Oklahoma and Texas so cattle and horses disappeared. Fast forward to about 10 years ago and a friend needed ag exemption on some land he inherited. I put some longhorns on the scrubby place and was back in cattle business! We have 100 acres now, longhorns are all gone and cattle are my source of peace from an office job full of folks not as smart as my cows. Guess I'd say I'm full circle now and look forward to retirement with my cows and family, not necessarily in that order😂
 
Since after 1900, no recent farmers or ranchers in my family. I'm first generation. Retired at 54, spent two years on metal detecting expeditions-goofing off-Before I got involved with land and then cattle.

I had been leasing my land with barn for 25 years-always horses-horse lovers. My last leasee left when I was 56. Basically the land (held many barbeque-beer parties) got severely trashed and dumped on...sofa sleepers, mattresses, horse blankets, ovens, washer-dryers, hundreds of pallets, soiled diapers, 63 tires over ~ 4,000. beer bottles, aluminum can, plastic bottles I picked up. Barn had several beam poles missing due to idiot modifications and was sagging...almost lost a floor and part of the roof. I cleaned it all up, jacked and re-poled the barn...and burned for 5 days-day and night. Ran magnets to collect up nails. Scrapped al the steel and start added T-post and post to re-fencing with 5 strands. Ran magnets to collect up nails

During the clean-up I fell in love with the land. I had always loved seeing cattle out in the fields…and since I basically built a nice "clean-safe" home for them…I bought 7 heifers and 1 bull onto the land for breeding.

It was a blast learning and figuring out stuff as I went. I didn't know what I was doing but I was having a ball. I'm 4 years in now.

My findings being first generation over 55 when starting: (if anyone's interested in what a newbie finds amazing/fun/difficult).

I learn about all the types of grasses and all types of weeds, the good the bad the ugly.

My biggest delight are making those yearly small ranch improvements to equipment and infrastructure that save time, reduce manual effort and provide better safety. If I'm going to get old with cattle…I need "easy".

What I found funny….was every cattle producer is doing things differently, and they don't know what they're doing either. I know I do crazy things too…but some of these folks are seasoned cattleman are making what I'd call mistakes (financially or effort wise)….and they admit they don't know what they're doing either.

I was incredibly worried about the sale barn being "open" to accept my cattle the first time I went. I called ahead to learn about the process and confirm dates and times. It's like you do all this work, gathering cattle, sorting, loading and hauling…and my biggest fear was the sale barn closed, or not taking in cattle. Being an engineer, I could rely on myself…but I was at the mercy of a sale barn being open. In any event it turns out…there wasn't anything to worry about. They take cattle a day (even two, three) before the sale date, check the dates for each sale barn…no news, means the sale is on.

Not many regulations for cattle producers…I was amazed at unloading at a sale barn and they only need a name and address. They didn't care the slightest about my cattle, ages, breeds, vaccinations, registrations…they all go into one big melting sale pot, weigh them and sell them. I enjoyed learning about FSA, RCPP, USDA, NRCS and signing up for anything beneficial to my business. Sure it's a lot of fun and hard work but it's a business at the end of the day. I only expect to break even, stay health and give back to society. Being new to farming-cattle, it amazes me at how unregulated things are in cattle and hay; no standards or linkages between farms/farmers communication wise: ( who's selling what cattle, hogs, chickens and what type of hay produced on their farm and where's the roster where I sign-up for hay in advance? So we both can have "peace and comfort" producing, buying and selling). No standards...It's both a blessing and a curse. You're free to do what you want to do, your own way….but it's very difficult to find grain producers (in the area, I'm in) or find a reliable hay producer, hay relationship (during droughts) when you're near big cities (Dallas, Texas) where farming is going extinct.
 
I dunno. There's always been cows in my family on and off from great grandfather to me, but looks like I'm the end of the line in my direct linage. My 1st memory of my dad's cows were at a lease place Dad had over near Sheldon Tx. About all I really remember tho was the big bulk feeder he poured csm into by the 100lb towsack and the only reason I remember that was that it had a red wasp nest in the top of it about a foot across that he always told us to watch out for when he flipped the roof back . My father was never really interested in having what I would call 'good' cows as it was a different time and a good cow was any that could fend for themselves, live and grow off whatever grew in the woods, and he could sell at the salebarn. We did try registered polled Herefords but they all had calving problems, I guess that was around 1966 and he went to a brahma hereford cross like everyone else was raising in the open range around our place. Funny thing..he wasn't much on what he called high bred cattle but he tried every kind of grass that came down the pike. Alicia, African Star, several different bermudas and coastals,
Unlike Dave, I got into it late and bought my first one when I was around 13 or 14. Reg Angus heifer. Borrowed the $$ for her from Dad and worked it off in his auto shop, which made no sense to me since I was already spending every minute not in school working in there...for free.

I think this was around 1975, Dad holding my 2 twin sons with some of his cows and calves in the background..
twinsandpapa_00012.jpg

I spent about 20 years drinking whisky and chasing women, messed around and finally let one catch me and needed something else to spend money and energy on so I worked a deal with Dad to buy a little parcel from him (we didn't survey it, just a handshake agreement where it started and ended) then later inherited another 25 acres and bought 20 more acres then bought cows. Char/Simm cross first and then beefmasters later. Leased an adjoining 25 acres and then 41 acres right beside that. Lots of it was still woods. I'd be lyin if I didn't add that the ag exemption played a part in it.

Got another pic somewhere of all 4 of my kids sitting atop his Brahma bull. (My first wife was horrified at he and I setting them up there)
 
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. My father was never really interested in having what I would call 'good' cows as it was a different time and a good cow was any that could fend for themselves, live and grow off whatever grew in the woods, and he could sell at the salebarn.

I think this was around 1975, Dad holding my 2 twin sons with some of his cows and calves in the background..
View attachment 37952
I don't think these cows are all that bad, myself. He had exactly the right kind for low-input, wooded or scrub pastures, and little work pulling calves, treating, worming etc. WIth good polled beef bull, I could see how he could have made money with them.
 
@ greybeard ...great story i enjoyed it. You can see...those smaller cattle fended for themselves, much like goats. Smaller thinner breeding cattle of old were money makers. I have two angus, that produce heavy big calves.... but run thin with their calves on them (no matter how much i feed them, only their calves get bigger)...but they always breed back. I hate seeing thin angus mothers, 900lbs to 1050 but they're doing their job...it's just how they roll. I believe the two thin ones are probably the most profitable cows on the ranch. They eat less, do less ground damage and pump out calves. But it's painful to see them running thin.
 
Not many regulations for cattle producers…I was amazed at unloading at a sale barn and they only need a name and address. They didn't care the slightest about my cattle, ages, breeds, vaccinations, registrations…they all go into one big melting sale pot, weigh them and sell them. I enjoyed learning about FSA, RCPP, USDA, NRCS and signing up for anything beneficial to my business. Sure it's a lot of fun and hard work but it's a business at the end of the day. I only expect to break even, stay health and give back to society. Being new to farming-cattle, it amazes me at how unregulated things are in cattle and hay; no standards or linkages between farms/farmers communication wise: ( who's selling what cattle, hogs, chickens and what type of hay produced on their farm and where's the roster where I sign-up for hay in advance? So we both can have "peace and comfort" producing, buying and selling). No standards...It's both a blessing and a curse. You're free to do what you want to do, your own way….but it's very difficult to find grain producers (in the area, I'm in) or find a reliable hay producer, hay relationship (during droughts) when you're near big cities (Dallas, Texas) where farming is going extinct.
There are certainly no standards when sell a handful at the local sale barn. And from what I have learned here on CT that is especially true in your part of the world where selling everything as singles is the general rule. Go on to Superior's website and look at "How it is done". You will find a number of standards for different programs. Of course they sell semi loads of similar cattle. A real common program standard is Vac45. It gives specific vaccinations and a minimum 45 day wean. Here at the local sale barns if you are selling even small groups of similar calves they will announce vaccination and weaning information
 
I can't remember not being around cattle, my grandpa, great grandpa, uncle's, father always had cattle, and I always had a passion for it, I went in business with my grandpa in 1980, we raised cattle,hay and about 15 acres of corn, we took the corn to the local mill to grind for feed and range meal.
I bought my first place in 1992, 103 acres I ran cattle got in the chicken business and leased 3 acres of it to an oil company ( that has paid for the place a couple of times) , I got half the minerals when I bought it and got pooled in a well that done pretty good.
I bought my other two places in 2016 (194 acres) and 2020 ( 171.5 acres ).
We worked hard but I enjoyed every minute of it, the whole time I kept a full time job.
We're thinking about getting into more of the hay making side.
I have made more money buying and selling cattle than the cow/calf operation, the problem to that business is when you get a group of good cows, it's hard to turn them loose.
 
I can see where buying & selling cattle like Dave does "should" be lucrative, but I'm not built that way. I LOVE my cows and calving season and show season, and, and - well, you get the picture. I guess the PRIDE in what I do has a lot to do with my choices.
When I hear like Murry, buying calves and bringing them home - I cringe. All I can think of is the germs being brought to the farm. I'm sure it is different when it is a constant thing, home cattle get a lot of exposure and have (hopefully) a stronger resistance built into the colostrum.
 
Just dumb, or could it be dumb luck, who knows, and it really doesn't matter here I am. I came into the cattle business a little late, but the family has been farming in one way or another for a long time. Grandpa had a dairy, dairy farm, feed store and a painting business back in Illinois. Dad and two of his brothers wanted to become cowboys, and were planning on going west, well grandpa decided that they all would move. They ended up in western Nebraska where they raised sheep. Dad, Duane, and Roy ended up going to work for a couple of ranches here in Wyoming, and grandpa moved to Colorado. Dad eventually started working for Warren Livestock, became their cow foreman, and a few years later I came along. We left Cheyenne when I was about five; grandpa talked dad into moving to Craig Colorado where he ran a construction business for 30 years. In the Early 90's Uncle Duane bought the ranch in Creston Junction Wyoming, and I helped a little while I was going to college. Once I got married, I kept my nose to the grindstone trying to make a living. After several years of running the construction company after college I moved to Wyoming to help my dad with the farm he bought, he was in early 70's by then, and beside I need to get out of a partnership that was starting to go bad; it seemed like the logical thing to do. After my divorce I had the bright idea of buying some farm equipment and we put our own hay after I sold my property in Colorado. I still sometime wonder if that was a good idea or not, but here I am, I jumped in with both feet. That first year we put some hay that we didn't feel we could sell, and so the only course of action was to buy cows. I was already 50 by the time I decided to get into farming and ranching. I can say I have learned a lot over the last several years from dad, my uncle, and cousins that grew up in the industry. I figure if I can learn half of what dad has forgotten I'm doing good. It has been a lot of work, but I have enjoyed almost every part of it. Well except those days gathering cows when it never got above freezing. I don't really enjoy being a human popsicle.
 
I can see where buying & selling cattle like Dave does "should" be lucrative, but I'm not built that way. I LOVE my cows and calving season and show season, and, and - well, you get the picture. I guess the PRIDE in what I do has a lot to do with my choices.
When I hear like Murry, buying calves and bringing them home - I cringe. All I can think of is the germs being brought to the farm. I'm sure it is different when it is a constant thing, home cattle get a lot of exposure and have (hopefully) a stronger resistance built into the colostrum.
Jeanne I think there is a lot more BVD that the traders bring home with them than they realize but like you say with all the comings and goings there is a lot of natural immunity developed. BVD is behind a lot of the pneumonias. In herds like ours it is probably more important to keep on top of the vaccinations and maintain our biosecurity. I cringe at the idea of their blanket shots of Draxin to all the introductions but they do what they do to get on with their business.

Ken
 
I can see where buying & selling cattle like Dave does "should" be lucrative, but I'm not built that way. I LOVE my cows and calving season and show season, and, and - well, you get the picture. I guess the PRIDE in what I do has a lot to do with my choices.
When I hear like Murry, buying calves and bringing them home - I cringe. All I can think of is the germs being brought to the farm. I'm sure it is different when it is a constant thing, home cattle get a lot of exposure and have (hopefully) a stronger resistance built into the colostrum.
With as valuable a herd of registered breeding stock as you have, if you wanted to dabble in trading, you would want to have another pasture away from your place. People who have a commercial cow-calf operation, not so much. Most people doing that are going to be buying and selling out of that herd too. But even with an operation like that, I'd keep my trade cattle away from my cows and calves if I could. .
 
I was born into a ranching family. My paternal grandparents were all Volga Deutsch in the North Platte Valley in western Nebraska and eastern Wyoming. Grandpa bought a ranch near Lander, WY in 1949. Dad graduated high school in 1962 and won the National High School Bareback and All Around in Valentine, NE that year and went in to wrestle and rodeo at the University of Wyoming. We had a small rodeo company when I was a little kid that they sold in 1970 and went full bore into cattle with a 600-cow ranch. That is what I grew up on and one of my my sisters runs it now, but Mom, my two sisters and me are shareholders. Cows go to the federal land grazing allotments in the summer and we raised irrigated hay and row crops at the time, but have discontinued the row crops. We had a feedlot and a smaller feed truck and our own semi rigs for hauling. Fixed all our own equipment and even built some out of old salvaged junk.

I graduated high school in 1984 and had offers to judge livestock at several community colleges, but I just wanted to get out of town and to the University. Graduated with a degree in ag economics and was thinking about grad school, but took the law school admissions test (LSAT) instead because we had been having some disputes with the Bureau of Land Management about our grazing allotment and I wanted to be able to do something about that. Graduated law school in 1992 from U of Wyoming and started practicing in Cheyenne.

Met my wife in 1994 and her family had a small place near Cheyenne. We got 10 pairs from the home ranch in 1995, got married in 1996 and we were in the cow business with her uncle and grandmother. My son started showing cattle in 2006 and we bought our first registered Angus cows in 2008 to add to our commercial cows with the idea to replace commercial cows with Angus as we retained or purchased heifers.

In 2014 my wife's grandmother passed away and she had changed her will to give everything to her uncle. That wasn't going to work for us. We found our current ranch 45 miles northeast of Cheyenne that same year and were barely able to swing getting it closed. Couldn't afford to buy a single thing at the sellers' auction. Six months later we got our place near Cheyenne sold and started building the herd. We moved out here with 18 cows and 5 yearling heifers. This place runs 30-35 head by itself. We picked up some leases and retained heifers and have built to 70 registered Angus cows and two remnant crossbreds that keep doing a good job. We are a grazing based outfit and have very limited equipment and run things with portable panels, portable chute, pickup and an aluminum stock trailer. We have installed several miles of pasture division fences, put in pipelines and stock tanks and built a barn and a good set of pipe pens at home. I like welding and have built all the pens and some other pasture infrastructure. Every spare dime and minute of spare time has gone into the ranch and cow herd. We sell 20 or so bulls per year and a couple heifers. We were doing some freezer beef, but in 2023 all calves that didn't make bulls or replacements went as ballers to the sale barn because I didn't see much upside to feeding anything out.

So here we are 28 years later.
Still practicing law as a solo out of the ranch (we have fiber optic out here in the sticks) and my bride also works a remote job that requires minimal travel. We can do most everything ourselves, but have great neighbors and we have a partner on a couple lease pastures to get cow work done. We finally hit max capacity with the cow herd in 2022 and looks like we are going to finally get in the black with the ranch. There are still a couple major projects to get done, but this outfit can be run on an hour per day and a few hours on weekends except during calving and A.I. breeding time.
 

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