how do you make money on cattle?

Help Support CattleToday:

Status
Not open for further replies.
A

Anonymous

This question may seem like a joke but I am serious. I am new to raising cattle and I bought books and read them and understand how to select and take care of the animals but I have yet to understand the business side of it. I am not looking to quit my day job, but I would like to at least make a profit however small it may be.

The more the cattle weigh, the cheaper they are per pound. I recently bought some steers at 450 lbs and put about 100 lbs on each of them. I sold them and basically got back what I paid for them. The prices at the auction were roughly the same as when I purchased, it was just the heavier cattle are cheaper that killed me. So how does one make money? It seems that mearly putting weight on cattle won't do it.
 

Campground Cattle

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 24, 2004
Messages
2,533
Reaction score
0
Location
East Texas
Anonymous":3g8s0q76 said:
This question may seem like a joke but I am serious. I am new to raising cattle and I bought books and read them and understand how to select and take care of the animals but I have yet to understand the business side of it. I am not looking to quit my day job, but I would like to at least make a profit however small it may be.

The more the cattle weigh, the cheaper they are per pound. I recently bought some steers at 450 lbs and put about 100 lbs on each of them. I sold them and basically got back what I paid for them. The prices at the auction were roughly the same as when I purchased, it was just the heavier cattle are cheaper that killed me. So how does one make money? It seems that mearly putting weight on cattle won't do it.

I make money not a living off cattle not counting my labor. I am a one man operation. You will have to learn to be a jack of all trades. The majic formula is keeping cost down. We are a total grass and only mineral supplement. Your right on just putting on weight that doesnt cut it as prices go down on the heavier calves. I have never been able to make money off trying to finish steers. I have done alright picking up breed cows in the winter and saling the pairs fattened in the summer. I have found for every 5 calves sold 2 pay operating cost in a good year 3 in a bad year.
 

Craig-TX

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 30, 2003
Messages
1,214
Reaction score
0
Location
Central Texas
If you haven’t heard the old line before you might as well get it over with… The best way to make a small fortune in cattle is to start off with a big one.

On a serious note, you are correct. The price curve declines as weights increase. In a typical market it generally won’t pay to keep calves past 600#. Right now is not typical and it has been paying to keep them longer. But if you buy in at 450# your basis is way to high to expect a profit. Some folks ‘background’ calves by putting them on good grass, oats, etc. for a period of time before they go to the feedlots but you typically have to run as much of a farming operation as you do a cattle operation. And it is RISKY.

You can listen to people talk genetics and EPDs all day long. Those can be worthy subjects. But the main key to making money in cattle, if you’re raising calves for market, is to not let your pride make decisions. In other words, the key to making money as a producer is to keep your costs and expenses down. Don’t buy culls, but don’t pay extra for any stock unless you think you will get your money back quickly. Same goes with equipment, feed, etc. Run everything lean but don’t ever try to starve a profit out of them. Keep them in good shape but cut every corner you can.

Income is pretty well dictated by the market. Outflow is dictated by you to a large extent. It’s easy to be pennywise and pound foolish. Beyond things that are truly necessities, ask yourself if you’re trying to impress your neighbors or will this investment pay for itself quickly.

Craig-TX
 

jt

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 9, 2004
Messages
1,278
Reaction score
0
i agree with campground cattle..

over time you will learn what works best for you and what does not work.. and what may work this year may not next year, if you are trying to buy and sell. i have seen people make a lot of money buying young open cows early in the year and selling them in the fall as bred cows.. but that does not always work..

ecomony of scale is a factor too.. spreading the cost over a larger herd helps... in a cow/calf operation it is easier to come out with a bull on 25 cows than on just 10.

buying calves is tough.. there is small room for profit, especially when you have to pay commissions, etc at the sale barn..

bottom line is, it is not easy to make a profit. but it can be done. but it takes time and experience to learn what works and what does not. and along the way in that learning curve you very possibly will come out in the hole.

i tell anybody that asks me about making money in cattle.. dont get into it for the money. i do it because i like it. yep, i want them to make money, and they are now, BUT, i dont want to mislead anyone into thinking they are going to be able to quit their day job and go into the cattle business and make it.. for most this is not likely to happen.


good luck

jt
 

txshowmom

Well-known member
Joined
May 11, 2004
Messages
1,252
Reaction score
0
The easiest way to make money in the cattle buisness is to buy as many commercial females as your land can handle and a good thick meaty bull and sell the offspring at weaning.
 

CattleAnnie

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 2, 2004
Messages
1,530
Reaction score
0
Location
Northeastern BC Canada
And no offense to txshowmom, but being a cow/calf operation is not an easy job. Between the lack of sleep at calving time, pulling the odd calf, dealing with the odd cow that won't mother her calf, the occasional dumbie calf that can't figure out how to suck a teat, the invariable c-section vet bill and then the treatment of calves that come down with scours or pnuemonia it definately isn't a walk in the park. For those of us in the north, you also get to add the bone-chilling winter and spring snow-storms into the equation. Depending on your local, you are also tied down to feeding every day, so weekend getaways become a thing of the past unless you can arrange someone to chore for you.

The long and short of it is that you really have to love what you're doing. And even then there will be moments when you feel you should've had your head examined the day you first raised your hand to bid on a cow. It can be rewarding, but honestly, it is more of a lifestyle than a get rich quick career.

I wish you the best in your endeavour. Take care.
 

txshowmom

Well-known member
Joined
May 11, 2004
Messages
1,252
Reaction score
0
And no offense to txshowmom, but being a cow/calf operation is not an easy job.

I didn't say it was an easy job, what I said was it was the easiest way to make money in the cattle buisness.
 

certherfbeef

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 21, 2004
Messages
3,052
Reaction score
0
Location
OH
Between the lack of sleep at calving time, pulling the odd calf, dealing with the odd cow that won't mother her calf, the occasional dumbie calf that can't figure out how to suck a teat, the invariable c-section vet bill and then the treatment of calves that come down with scours or pnuemonia it definately isn't a walk in the park. For those of us in the north, you also get to add the bone-chilling winter and spring snow-storms into the equation. Depending on your local, you are also tied down to feeding every day, so weekend getaways become a thing of the past unless you can arrange someone to chore for you.

The long and short of it is that you really have to love what you're doing. And even then there will be moments when you feel you should've had your head examined the day you first raised your hand to bid on a cow. It can be rewarding, but honestly, it is more of a lifestyle than a get rich quick career.


Very well said Cattle Annie, but you forgot breeding season, so you can do it all over again next year!!! Checking for heat and AI. Then put the bull out and hope he finishes the job.

Might as well plan on living with the cattle if you are running a cow/calf operation. :)
 

txshowmom

Well-known member
Joined
May 11, 2004
Messages
1,252
Reaction score
0
You asked for an opinion and I gave you mine. You don't have top agree. We do quite well in our cow/calf operation. Its not easy work but if it's something you truley love then you don't mind the work. If you people don't like what you are doing then stop complaining and do something else.
 

certherfbeef

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 21, 2004
Messages
3,052
Reaction score
0
Location
OH
WOW!, Where in the world did that come from? Cattle Annie and I are not complaining. Just expanding on your typical one-liner very vague answers.
 

dun

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 28, 2003
Messages
47,334
Reaction score
9
Location
MO Ozarks
i find it interesting that livestock is one of the few "jobs" that people alwasy address the "like it/love it" aspect. You sure don't typically hear of 9-5ers that claim they do it because they love it.

dun
 

hillbilly

Well-known member
Joined
May 4, 2004
Messages
365
Reaction score
0
Location
SW Missouri
There are a dozen ways to make money on cattle... The trouble is there are hundreds of ways to lose money on cattle.

Neighbor #1: Buys light feeders[400#+] at first sign of green grass.
they eat grass and a rocksalt corn mix that he mixes.
By fall they are 750#+. He says he doesn't make any
money, but he keeps it together that way.

Neighbor # 2: Buys bred slaughter cows, raises one calf then sells both
12 to 16 months later. He says he doesn't make any money
just keeps it in a pile that way.

Neighbor # 3: Buys open slughter cows in spring and turns out on grass
sells in fall, still open but fat as ticks, he says he doesn't
make any money but...etc.etc.etc.

Neighbor # 4: Buys ugly horned roan steers & horned dairy steers
that are poor & light and practically dry lots them.
Dehorns them & feeds them I don't know what? But
they get pretty musled up by sale day. He says he
doesn't make any money...etc.etc.

Neighbor # 5: Milks...he's poor!

Neighbor # 6: Buys groups of nice heifers, takes real good care of
them breeds them to calve april 1st and sells them the
week before they calve at a big heifer sale, he says he
doesn't make...etc.

Neighbor # 7: Cow calf operator, I know he doesn't make any money
because that's what I do too!

Don't get into this business to get rich, It's the way of life that we love.

Hillbilly
 

Dave

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 12, 2004
Messages
10,229
Reaction score
2,108
Location
Baker County, Oregon
Hillbilly, are you sure that you don't live up here in Washington? I think you just described my neighbors.
A person had better enjoy doing it. Otherwise invest your time and money some where else.
Dave
 

txshowmom

Well-known member
Joined
May 11, 2004
Messages
1,252
Reaction score
0
There are some people out there believe it or not who DO make a nice living raising cattle. If you are looking to raise cattle as a hobby then don't expect to get rich. YES you can make a little money but not enough to get rich. We are talking about 2 different things here.The problem I see with this board is that we have people here giving advice but we know nothing about them. For example, what I consider to be a big ranch is anything oiver 1000 acres of land. But what someone else considers to be a big ranch may be 100 acres or so. So just because someone has a big 100 acre ranch and 20 cows does not mean they can come on here and tell you they are expert cattleman and put other people down and say they don't know what the are talking about. I live on a ranch that is over 1000 acres and we run about 400 cows. We are a cow/calf opperation and have both purebreds and commercial cows. This ranch has been in my family for several generations and I have been around and worked cattle all my life. We may not do things the way you do but it don't sit on the end of your terminal and put me down for how we do things or how I respond to a post. I don't know you and you don't know me. All I know about you is what I read in your posts. There are some people on this board that I can tellknow what they are talking about and I respect them for that. But there are a lot of people that are full of crap and should keep their comments to themselves.
 

txag

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 23, 2003
Messages
1,712
Reaction score
0
Location
Texas
txshowmom":3gv798fn said:
There are some people out there believe it or not who DO make a nice living raising cattle. If you are looking to raise cattle as a hobby then don't expect to get rich. YES you can make a little money but not enough to get rich. We are talking about 2 different things here.The problem I see with this board is that we have people here giving advice but we know nothing about them. For example, what I consider to be a big ranch is anything oiver 1000 acres of land. But what someone else considers to be a big ranch may be 100 acres or so. So just because someone has a big 100 acre ranch and 20 cows does not mean they can come on here and tell you they are expert cattleman and put other people down and say they don't know what the are talking about. I live on a ranch that is over 1000 acres and we run about 400 cows. We are a cow/calf opperation and have both purebreds and commercial cows. This ranch has been in my family for several generations and I have been around and worked cattle all my life. We may not do things the way you do but it don't sit on the end of your terminal and put me down for how we do things or how I respond to a post. I don't know you and you don't know me. All I know about you is what I read in your posts. There are some people on this board that I can tellknow what they are talking about and I respect them for that. But there are a lot of people that are full of be nice and should keep their comments to themselves.

hmmm.....where do i start. i'm not going to give you my resume, but according to you, i would have a "big ranch". with that said, i'm not sure the intelligence level always correlates to number of cows or acres.

it sounds like you were lucky enough to be raised into the cattle business, but if you'll stop for a minute and consider what it would take to get started you might have a different attitude.

i think what some of the previous posts were referring to is that initially, for someone just starting out, don't expect to make any (or much) money. unless you inherit land and cattle that are both already in tip-top shape, there are lots of start-up costs......land purchase or lease, cattle, fences, grass, and equipment are just the tip of the iceberg. if you don't enjoy raising cattle, then you're surely not going to enjoy building and fixing fences or pulling calves in the middle of the night or as Annie mentioned, fighting with a dummie calf trying to hold him up with your knees while your back breaks bending over trying to get him to latch on to a teat when all he wants to do is fall down. raising cattle is a lifestyle more so than a job.
 

txshowmom

Well-known member
Joined
May 11, 2004
Messages
1,252
Reaction score
0
For your information I have done my share of nursing out claves, some of them for weeks before they learn to nurse on their own. I have also pulled claves in the middle of the night and hauled feed and water to cows that have gone down due to claving problems. I am well aware of what it takes to run a ranch. I am also aware of what the start up costs are. My husband and I have started our own division of the ranch and have purchased our own land and seedstock so don't tell me what you think you know about me.
 

Campground Cattle

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 24, 2004
Messages
2,533
Reaction score
0
Location
East Texas
txag":11p4gamm said:
txshowmom":11p4gamm said:
There are some people out there believe it or not who DO make a nice living raising cattle. If you are looking to raise cattle as a hobby then don't expect to get rich. YES you can make a little money but not enough to get rich. We are talking about 2 different things here.The problem I see with this board is that we have people here giving advice but we know nothing about them. For example, what I consider to be a big ranch is anything oiver 1000 acres of land. But what someone else considers to be a big ranch may be 100 acres or so. So just because someone has a big 100 acre ranch and 20 cows does not mean they can come on here and tell you they are expert cattleman and put other people down and say they don't know what the are talking about. I live on a ranch that is over 1000 acres and we run about 400 cows. We are a cow/calf opperation and have both purebreds and commercial cows. This ranch has been in my family for several generations and I have been around and worked cattle all my life. We may not do things the way you do but it don't sit on the end of your terminal and put me down for how we do things or how I respond to a post. I don't know you and you don't know me. All I know about you is what I read in your posts. There are some people on this board that I can tellknow what they are talking about and I respect them for that. But there are a lot of people that are full of be nice and should keep their comments to themselves.

hmmm.....where do i start. i'm not going to give you my resume, but according to you, i would have a "big ranch". with that said, i'm not sure the intelligence level always correlates to number of cows or acres.

it sounds like you were lucky enough to be raised into the cattle business, but if you'll stop for a minute and consider what it would take to get started you might have a different attitude.

i think what some of the previous posts were referring to is that initially, for someone just starting out, don't expect to make any (or much) money. unless you inherit land and cattle that are both already in tip-top shape, there are lots of start-up costs......land purchase or lease, cattle, fences, grass, and equipment are just the tip of the iceberg. if you don't enjoy raising cattle, then you're surely not going to enjoy building and fixing fences or pulling calves in the middle of the night or as Annie mentioned, fighting with a dummie calf trying to hold him up with your knees while your back breaks bending over trying to get him to latch on to a teat when all he wants to do is fall down. raising cattle is a lifestyle more so than a job.

Big outfit doesn't make you smart. Being born with land and cattle is easy or lucky. Buy the land and build it from scratch like your ancestors and a lot of people on this board.
 

Craig-TX

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 30, 2003
Messages
1,214
Reaction score
0
Location
Central Texas
txag":2gb5aaw1 said:
txshowmom":2gb5aaw1 said:
There are some people out there believe it or not who DO make a nice living raising cattle. If you are looking to raise cattle as a hobby then don't expect to get rich. YES you can make a little money but not enough to get rich. We are talking about 2 different things here.The problem I see with this board is that we have people here giving advice but we know nothing about them. For example, what I consider to be a big ranch is anything oiver 1000 acres of land. But what someone else considers to be a big ranch may be 100 acres or so. So just because someone has a big 100 acre ranch and 20 cows does not mean they can come on here and tell you they are expert cattleman and put other people down and say they don't know what the are talking about. I live on a ranch that is over 1000 acres and we run about 400 cows. We are a cow/calf opperation and have both purebreds and commercial cows. This ranch has been in my family for several generations and I have been around and worked cattle all my life. We may not do things the way you do but it don't sit on the end of your terminal and put me down for how we do things or how I respond to a post. I don't know you and you don't know me. All I know about you is what I read in your posts. There are some people on this board that I can tellknow what they are talking about and I respect them for that. But there are a lot of people that are full of be nice and should keep their comments to themselves.

hmmm.....where do i start. i'm not going to give you my resume, but according to you, i would have a "big ranch". with that said, i'm not sure the intelligence level always correlates to number of cows or acres.

it sounds like you were lucky enough to be raised into the cattle business, but if you'll stop for a minute and consider what it would take to get started you might have a different attitude.

i think what some of the previous posts were referring to is that initially, for someone just starting out, don't expect to make any (or much) money. unless you inherit land and cattle that are both already in tip-top shape, there are lots of start-up costs......land purchase or lease, cattle, fences, grass, and equipment are just the tip of the iceberg. if you don't enjoy raising cattle, then you're surely not going to enjoy building and fixing fences or pulling calves in the middle of the night or as Annie mentioned, fighting with a dummie calf trying to hold him up with your knees while your back breaks bending over trying to get him to latch on to a teat when all he wants to do is fall down. raising cattle is a lifestyle more so than a job.

Well, I guess that would put me on a big ranch too. And it’s profitable, even before the tax implications. And I’ve got a day job. Size isn’t everything. If I could run at some of the grazing rates I read on here I’d cash out and be set for life. When I read about two acres per pair I just shake my head. In terms of capacity that would be like having six or seven hundred acres for every hundred around here.

Craig-TX
 
OP
A

Anonymous

Very well said txshowmom,
I am a regular 9-5er with a substantial real estate investment portfolio on the side. I got a small operation (less than 80 acres and only 12 commercial cows and a bull) but I make a killing on write-offs.
I estimate my small cattle operation nets me close to $13K in tax benefits per year with virtually no work, real cash outlay or real labor investment. It also produces about $3K in cash from the sale of calves which I don't take anywhere but have a buyer go pick them up himself.
Just as in any other business, you have to have a niche and I found mine.
I don't like at the ranch, I don't pay a Vet, I just go there once a week two and make sure the are still there. Done this for 5 years and can't say I've come across any real problems.
My real benefit from this are the Saturdays when I just drop by and take long walks by the tanks with the wife.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Latest posts

Top