How I got my start in ranching

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Been lurking for awhile and thought I'd finally register. Am in Kuwait and sit at a computer all day being bored (it's good that I'm bored because when I'm busy many others are having a hard, miserable day). So I thought I'd post something to kind of introduce myself.
If anyone is interested, this is how I got my start.
Went to the FSA (I live North-Central Nebraska) who has special loans for beginning farmers/ranchers. They'll lend you enough to get by but not enough to make a living. I borrowed $57,000 (nothing down) and got 76 bred, black angus, 4-5 year olds, fall calvers. My herd was actually pretty well put together, if I do say so myself, even though it came from 3 different sellers. Before I bought I went to the sale barns and learned what the buyers were after. Everyone sells through salebarns here and except for the bull breeders and purebred operations I really don't know anybody who sells private treaty. Dad has a heart condition which is why I came back to the ranch in the first place. So I worked for shares on my winter hay and machinery use. Basically, for me, it worked out like this: $10k/yr loan payment. $150/summer pasture. We promptly went into drought conditions so I had to buy hay for a couple years.
What are my lessons learned?
The cows work for themselves, not for you. I paid my 7 yr loan off in 5 years and in that 5 years I took about $4k for myself. When I sold cows to come to Kuwait I only had 58 of the original 76 through death and culling. But then I sold them for $1300/pair last Sep and they looked excellent.
If you don't have cattle or land given to you it is extremely hard. But then I've seen people who've been given both and driven it into bankruptcy.
Pencil everything out, time and time again. Figure $400/yr expenses for a cow. $150/5 months summer pasture, and a cow will easily eat $1/day in hay. (ex. $60/1 ton hay = $.03/lb x 40lb/day consumption (or more, remember cows and calves through the winter). So in feed cost alone a cow costs $360/yr. Figure $10/cow for vaccine. $15 for salt/mineral. Now figure what you will sell at the end. I always figure $500-$550 for my weaned calves. Yes, I've sold for much more but I've also sold for $450.
Machinery. It's an expense, a necessity, and won't make you a penny (unless you sell hay, but even then). So watch your expenses.
Vets. I figure if you have to go to a vet you've pretty much lost the profit for that cow for the year. C-sections cost me about $110 and there's no guarantee that I'll have a live calf or a live cow at the end. Vets have killed several cows for me (of course they would have died anyway, you just have to determine if you want a vet to say your cow is dead and that will be $100 please).
Feedstores. Figure out who knows what they talking about and stick with them. I am lucky and have a feed dealer who knows more about cattle than the vets do. But at the same time I know what feed I know will work and what I don't want. If everything worked the way the salesman said it would I'd be weaning 1000 lb steers. As it is I know I'll spend exactly $25/calf for creep and put on about 50-75 more lbs.
Sales. Before weaning I start checking out the sales and peoples market projections. Some years it pays to sell weaned calves, some years I sell off the cow. Sometimes it pays to keep calves and put another hundred pounds on some years there's a $10 difference in a 550 lb calf and a 650 lb calf. I figure if a calf dies during my weaning I've lost the profit for weaning in the first place.
Weaning. Good luck. Stampedes can break legs, run off weight and cause a lot of extra work. We've tried different strategies and now we pretty much corral the calves right next to the mommas. The boss cows will stick around and beller for a couple days but then they'll get hungry and go back out to pasture. If the calves do break out they'll just go back to the cows and we'll just get them in again. Otherwise, I've seen calves end up 7 miles away before they get found again.

There's a lot more to it but I better quit before you kick me out for talking too much or I get in trouble for using a gov computer for this kind of stuff. Just killing time. Regards from Kuwait.
Thanks for the post. Much of what you said could be used anywhere in U.S of A
Newbies read this and study it.
Some of the cost could be a little different. More or Less
But worth studying.
The above post is mine. I was able to register but can't seem to be able to log in, I think the firewall on this gov. system won't let me. Anyway, now you can ID me.
Marty, thanks for your great post and welcome to the board! Assume from some of the things that you have said here and in previous posts that you are serving your country in a very difficult location. I think the greatest majority of us here thank all of you guys for your service. We wish you a safe and speedy return home to ranching.

After reading Macon's new Conduct post in the Coffee Shop, and in an effort to try to read Macon's wishes, portions of the original post have been deleted by Texan!
I'v got some good friends over there and more on the way. Y'all be carefull.
Many thanks for your well-wishes, I do appreciate them. I don't feel like I'm in a very dangerous place, there's a joke that the (Camp) Arifijan hand grenade is a chocolate donut. I know I'm in probably the safest camp in theater and blessed to be able to feel secure all the time. My unit's job is to assist the units who are going home, and my job is liaison between my unit and all the others. I work with lots of people who outrank me by quite a bit and my little joke is that I work in a shark pit and I'm the bait. Anyway, we just try to make things easier for those who actually have done the fighting and now just want to go home. I do enjoy this website and helps pass the time while I think about home. Part of my job is to send out messages to everyone in my unit and I use this website to get jokes and poetry to attach to those messages, kind of a little extra boost to cheer people up. Hope all is well.
You are still serving and it is appreciated my hat is off to all of our great service people.

Again Thanks for Defending Us and the Greatest Nation ever known
Everyone in the military has a job to do and it all revolves around the freedom of America. Be your job safe or hostile remember you are in a war zone. God bless you for serving and may he keep you safe.
Welcome Marty

Thanks for your service to defend my freedoms and rights

God Bless You and the USA

I fell the same way. You guys are doing a hell of a job and are in my thoughts.
Good job!!!
I know how it feels to be away from home and my cattle during a war and its not fun.
Hang in there.

Good job!!!
I know how it feels to be away from home and my cattle during a war and its not fun.
Hang in there.


Where is home any where are you now???
I don't recall if it's really WWII thing or not, but I recall a saying: They also serve who sit and wait". Front lines or support, or sitting at home taking care of the kids on the homefront, they all are serving their country!

That's where I am now. I got 300 acres and 22 crossbred cows.

Where are you showmom?


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