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My wife and I are in our second year of purchasing a ranch. We're a small outfit of 1 mixed truckload a year. I am trying to figure the best way to make the most money. My options as I see them are 1) sell as weaners, 2)pre-condition then sell, 3(pre-condition then wheat then sell 4)sell the heifers put some money with that and buy some steers to get a straight load then wheat and then sell 5) go to wheat and then sell enough to make my payments and retain some through a feedlot 6)or some variation of any of these. Our payments are due about the time most of the calves come of wheat around here. We live in south central New Mexico, and although my wife and I both have livestock and ranch background, as actual owner we realize we know very little of making profit. Without it we'll not be in business long. Thanks

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You have to know your costs associated with doing any or all of the above.

Bigger cattle generally sell for less per pound, so you need to know if you can gain them cheaper than the extra total dollar you should recieve.

My understanding is that wheat pasture is one of the cheapest times for raising calves. If that is so, you likely would do better to sell them after the wheat.

Factor in what you could rent the wheat pasture out for, and the difference in selling price as weaned calves vs wheat fed. If you can get an extra $80 per head with only $30 expenses, that other $50 is all profit. Remember to count in losses, they might be very small where you live, and the market can slide, negating any extra weight you have.

One other thing, buy the best bulls you can afford. An extra $2-300 can net you easily $5-600 in the first year, especially if you are going to wheat with them. (gain is highly heritable).

Jason Trowbridge Southern Angus Farms Alberta Canada

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Ryan hit the nail on the head. The first thing that you have to know is what you costs are and how your cattle are performing. If your cattle are strictly average, some years you can make money retaining ownership on them through the system and some years (usually the years at the peak of the cattle cycle)you will make more money selling at weaning. If your cattle are truly above average you will just about always make money retaining ownership. If you decide to retain ownership your cattle will perform better if fed as a straight group (all heifers or all steers) as each sex will finish at a different point. If you have above average cattle this means that you could sell some of your heifers as top cut breeding stock and buy good steers to finish your load. Heifers take a week or two longer and their feed conversion rate is not as good as steers. If you feed them as a group you will have to either slaughter your heifers a little on the light side or you will have to overfinish your steers to allow the heifers to reach their maximum potential. If you want more info drop me a line and i will be happy to discuss it with you. I am in the Northwest Texas panhandle just outside of Dalhart, TX so I am somewhat familiar with conditions in your area.

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