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Minnesota Custom Cattle Care

customcattle

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I have posted about something similar in the past, but was wondering if I could get some help in answering some questions about running beef cattle in Minnesota.
First off,I currently manage an 80 mother cow, cow/calf operation in Nebraska with my wife, while we both work full time jobs on the side (haha). My wife is from Minnesota and has wanted to get back up there, and I have been very reluctant, but we were presented with a potential opportunity over Thanksgiving that kind of got my wheels turning. We went and looked at a place that could run around 200 head. We would have to take loans out on the land and the cattle, and it just doesn't pencil having to do it that way. What I was wondering is if we were to just buy half of the cattle to stock the place, and offered a custom care situation for a (or multiple) other producers if there might be a demand for something like that, and also what people would be willing to pay for that. We would offer 100% year round care of the cattle. I know in Nebraska that the going rate is anywhere from $1-$2/day/head. Any input is appreciated.
Questions again:
1. Is there a demand for full time care in the state/area?
2. What is the going rate for this service there?
 

farmerjan

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One option, find out if there are any dairies in the area. There are several different farmers that do custom dairy heifer raising here in Va. Anything from day old bottle calves through springing heifers; to any combination in between. There are a few big differences in dairy heifers from beef cattle, but you might be able to get the calves as weaned or as older heifers ready to breed or just offer a grazing/feeding option to farmers for bred heifers up to close up to calving. Since you have been doing cow/calf you obviously know something about cattle so the transition wouldn't be as hard as if you were starting out with no experience.
Also, what is the land like? Maybe do some crop farming or rent out the cropable land to a dairy farmer; or grow hay for sale.
 

RanchMan90

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customcattle":1bx6pe63 said:
I have posted about something similar in the past, but was wondering if I could get some help in answering some questions about running beef cattle in Minnesota.
First off,I currently manage an 80 mother cow, cow/calf operation in Nebraska with my wife, while we both work full time jobs on the side (haha). My wife is from Minnesota and has wanted to get back up there, and I have been very reluctant, but we were presented with a potential opportunity over Thanksgiving that kind of got my wheels turning. We went and looked at a place that could run around 200 head. We would have to take loans out on the land and the cattle, and it just doesn't pencil having to do it that way. What I was wondering is if we were to just buy half of the cattle to stock the place, and offered a custom care situation for a (or multiple) other producers if there might be a demand for something like that, and also what people would be willing to pay for that. We would offer 100% year round care of the cattle. I know in Nebraska that the going rate is anywhere from $1-$2/day/head. Any input is appreciated.
Questions again:
1. Is there a demand for full time care in the state/area?
2. What is the going rate for this service there?
80¢ per day per head is the going rate here they supply feed, hay, and supplies.Maybe apples and oranges comparison to there. My family runs 250 customer cattle here on about 1800 acres it's a living, your investment is the infrastructure: feed truck, tractor, etc and fence maintenance. That would be a stretch while maintaining a full-time job or hire some part time help. It's a people business, it's good to get customers that pay monthly. Get a written contract to protects both you and the customer. It should be relatively easy to get customers, everybody wants some lease ground. That could tote the note for the land while you save your profits for your own cattle.
 

Stocker Steve

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customcattle":2hxmy04l said:
Questions again:
1. Is there a demand for full time care in the state/area?
2. What is the going rate for this service there?

MN is a big state. Large dairy is more common in SE and west central. Beef is more common in central. Custom care seems more common in the Dakotas -- where they will truck cattle to the forage. So, in general, yes, there is demand.

I have noticed that custom grazing or crop land leasing has a strong element of family rep or local relationships. Do you have someone who can make initial connections and help sell full time care?
 

customcattle

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Stocker Steve":2n4myopy said:
customcattle":2n4myopy said:
Questions again:
1. Is there a demand for full time care in the state/area?
2. What is the going rate for this service there?

MN is a big state. Large dairy is more common in SE and west central. Beef is more common in central. Custom care seems more common in the Dakotas -- where they will truck cattle to the forage. So, in general, yes, there is demand.

I have noticed that custom grazing or crop land leasing has a strong element of family rep or local relationships. Do you have someone who can make initial connections and help sell full time care?

I do have somebody from that area who grew up there and knows the producers in that area, but I don't know if that would be good enough for folks or not. I could give them a rather long list of references from here, but I'm not sure if that would do any good either. In a perfect world it would be great if we could just find one person to run them for, but again not sure if that would work or not. We are just kicking around ideas right now I guess.
 

ChrisB

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I've know of a place that ran heifers for an outfit out of Nebraska thru the summer. And visited a place that ran cows for several different places as far away as Missouri; can't remember for sure but I think that was year round care. Also know of places in MN that send cows to South Dakota for the summer. So you don't necessarily have to have customers in the immediate area.

I don't know how they found each other. Maybe just run adds on Craigslist for different areas?
 

customcattle

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herfdog":23d1cilp said:
What part of the state are you talking?

The place we are looking at is between Duluth and Virginia, so North east? part of the state. I have done some research and found that it may not be the ideal location to raise cattle, but at the same time there are a lot of guys up in that area who have a few head of cattle.
 

Stocker Steve

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Saw some I state data recently on value of "low productivity" land. Lower rent or lower price did not offset fixed costs spread over less output. IF commodity products were worth more then drainage or irrigation or cross fence MAY turn the economics around.

Saw some 2015 MN data today on crop farming profits sorted for the new technology applied. ALL technology plays had bigger losses that average. I think the additional investment had a negative return with low - - below total cost - - grain prices. Ag expert said we needed more years of data. Fair, but I doubt 2016/2017 will be better. Time to face up to a reset.

So there is an opportunity to convert unprofitable and/or abandoned crop ground to perennial forages, if you do not overpay for the land. Main northern MN operational issues are establishment costs and balage/hay making costs. High stock density is often prescribed to reduce establishment costs. A seasonal operation is often prescribed to side step wintering costs.
 

ChrisB

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There are a lot of wolves up in that area too. Might have to take extra precautions against depredation.
 

Stocker Steve

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ChrisB":8eyaz72e said:
There are a lot of wolves up in that area too. Might have to take extra precautions against depredation.

They free range a few cattle inland of the north shore. The only thing that stands up to the wolves are horned Highlanders. Local drivers get a little pissed when cattle get up on the roads after heavy snows, but they know better than to start a feud. Some milita types and very little mental health care back in the woods.
Made friends with one northern character after a tense deer hunting encounter. Turns out Russ had driven an old school bus down a closed logging road in the national forest and was now "homesteading". Threatened to shoot it out with the rangers who were trying to move him along...
I think Russ types would appreciate some free beef once the venison ran low.
 
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