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We are on the verge of doubling our ranch size and turning to cattle as our only source of income. My father says as a general rule of thumb you net $50 a calf after it's all said and done. We feed about 5 months a year and pasture the rest. Is that about right?

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While rule of thumb will work in some cases, if you are going to depend on cattle as your only source of income I think you need to put a little more research into this. Every situation is different. From what you wrote about doubling your ranch, I am going to assume that you have been raising cattle for a while. What have you been making on the cattle you have been raising up to now? What do you need to make to maintain your current standard of living? You can do what you want but if it was me I would spend some time with the bills, receipts, and a calculator and figure out where I was currently before expanding. One item that I can guarantee is that if you are going to need operating loans.....if you have not already done this research before going to the bank, he/she will make you do it before giving you money, especially if this is going to be your only source of income.

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I'm sure you know by now that if you are going to make a sizeable income off cattle, you need a decently large operation. You didn't specify how much acreage you have, but I'm going to suggest at least 100 - 300 acres. That's enough to run only about 60 - 80 head on. However, you might consider running only registered stockers on this acreage. From our ranch in Texas, where we run 50 head, our income from calf sales is only about $8,000 to $10,000. That's why we don't rely on this as a pure income. You might want to research registered stockers as your choice.

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