Perhaps a little advice...

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Saskbound

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First off i would like to say a warm "Hello" to everyone here on the forums. This has been a very imformative tool indeed, and it would appear that im going to be buying "Storeys Guide to Cattle Farming" in the next few days :).
I have actually come on here to ask a few quick questions to the people who have done this for a decent length of time. I will start by saying that myself and my better half grew up on farms and were taken to the big city when we were both kids. Her family packed up and left the farm life. My Grandparents carried on with Grain farming and have only recently "retired"... if you can call it that :). We have a beautiful daughter who is 14months and if we decide to make this move i would like to do it when she is very young so it wont be a horrible transition for her and any future children in the works ;-) .
I guess a few of my questions are as follows:
I am extremely new to anything involving cattle ranching...what size of land is a decent amount to sustain a ranch??
I looked around at stockyard websites and pricing of cattle...the only thing im not familiar with is how feasible is the cattle ranching profession?? I have heard alot lately about environmental concerns coming from cattle ranches and beef going on the down slope from all the estrogen and such injected into cattle.
What size of operation would i need to have in order for it to be somewhat profitable for a good sized family?? I should mention here that from the stockyard websites 500lbs was averaging $100-115.
I actually have about a bazillion questions hahaha...but ill get the book first and then if i have more ill come to you guys.

I understand the whole "do it for the love of the land and open air" theme...and trust me i wouldnt want to be leaving the city for this type of lifestyle if i didnt miss the country and being outdoors alot.
I should mention the farm is on 6 quarters of land (grain farmed land), and as far as water is concerned i know there are a few wells drilled around the main living area. Pretty much all the machinery is gone and most of the barns and such are crumpling and would need to be replaced. There are still a hand full of steel grain bins around and a few odds and ends here and there. I would need to erect the fences and stalls and all the jazz of course. With the selling of my assests here in the city i would be able to go out there with a decent sum of capital to get me started. The closest stockyard is about a 2-3 hour drive and as for other cattle ranchers...well there isnt very many at all...maybe 2-3 serious ones around the area.
I guess im trying to find out if this is a smart thing to do at the age of 32 hahaha because im basically not getting any younger:). I also apologize for the long story...i just wanted to make sure you guys had as much info as i could muster up.
 
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Saskbound

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Oh ya i apologize...it would be central Saskatchewan in Canada. The weather would be pretty close to Montana or North Dakota type weather if that helps.
 

RVF

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Saskbound, I just happen to live in Saskatchewan, so I may be able to help. The short answer is truely what are you wanting to do. Right now the price of commercial cattle is very low and it is therefore a good time to get in. The number of cattle you are needing, your ability to make money, the facilities required, the amount of capital required will depend on what your goals are. Whether 6 quarters is enough will depend as much on where is Saskatchewan you are located as anything else. Six quarters could pasture as few as 24 head or as many as 120 head. I would be willing to get into more details if you wish, however, I am assuming it would be better handled by direct e-mail, not the forum.
 

mnmtranching

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This is a good time to get into cattle, the price is down. Man! you better be going into it with a good bit of money. It won't work with borrowed money. The cost of fencing and facilities to handle, machinery for haying and hay handling. Then the cost of the cattle to stock the place. It will take a while to see return. Are quarters in Canada the same as US, metric? Being the land was farmed, must be pretty good land. Should grow good grass.
 

RVF

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mnmtranching":240cwioj said:
Are quarters in Canada the same as US, metric?

Quarters in Saskatchewan are 160 acres (1/2 mile by 1/2 mile).

Saskbound, I thought I should add some numbers for you to think about.

I would budget as follows

Grass seed costs approximately $40 per acre and seeding will be $15 per acre. You have 6 quarters, assuming 150 acres workable your total will be $49,500 to seed to grass, note, with this volume of grass seed you should be able to get a good discount.

Assuming electric fence, $900 per mile for fencing

Need water development which can easily cost over $20000

Assuming 8 acres/cow/year, you would be able to have run 100 to 120 head of cattle at $600 per cow - $60000 to $72000, For our American friends, the majority of bred cows sold right now are going to slaughter, I know of herd dispersals of over 300 head where 90 percent were sold for slaughter price. Last week cow calf pairs sold for $700 - $800.

A good long term average return per cow on a profitable operation would be $100 per cow. Therefore your operation would return you $10000 to $12000 per year. Some people are able to do better than this, but usually they have either no debt or have cattle, sheep, goats etc and sell value added products like meat.

As for facilities, if you calve after the snow has melted, and have some bush all you need is a corral to catch cattle in. If you want to calve in January or February, you better budget building a calving barn and sleepless nights.

As stated before, I do not know where you will be locating to, but if you are in a predomonately cropping area, the best business decision would be to sell your land you have and relocate to an area where you can by land already in pasture. Not only would it save you the cost of developing the pastures, you should be able to sell crop land at a premium today and purchase pasture land at a discount.

As for timing of events, the recommendation is to seed your grass with no cover crop, and do not graze it in the first year. Therefore, if you need to develop the grass land 1 year before you quit your day job in the city.

As Mnmtranching has said, you better be going into it with a good bit of money. As a blanket recomendation I would recommend no less than 300 cows and be able to set up an operation worth 1.5 million. The best advice I can give is to get yourself a very good business advisor and develop a business plan for your proposed operation, then decide if it is worth the risk. Just so you know I went down the road you want to travel ten years ago. I would do it again, but hopefully not make the same mistakes I made the first time. The first and biggets mistake I made was to not get a good business advisor.
 
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Saskbound

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First off i wanna apologize for taking so long to reply. Work and all that real life jazz...ohhh to have been a actor or something :). The land is roughly located around the Bulyea, Strasbourgh area...which is about a half hour north of Craven.
It is good to hear about someone who has jad the same experience i am going through. I dont wanna jump in with both feet just yet which is why im trying to get some info. I also really appreciate all the info you guys have provided me. This would be a big investment for myself and my family and i wanna make sure it is both the lifestyle and have the ability to make some sort of livable income. Parts of the land are being rented to other grain farmers and parts are in limbo. Like i mentioned my grandparents "retired" about..ummm...couple of years ago i would say. Im going out there this summer so i can look into it alot more and ill try to have a chat with a couple of ranchers out there. I will keep in touch as best as i can...but like i said work is taking alot of my time up right now :)
 

RVF

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Saskbound, you are alot closer to stockyards than you thing, Heartland in Regina is probably 1 to 1.5 hours from your farm. I know there are a is alot of cattle come out of the Strasbourgh area, so you should be able to find some neighbours with cattle - you should not be too lonely. You are also close enough to Regina that you could try developing a niche market for your beef, if you are so inclined. Although it is the dull and boring way to do it, I would strongly recommend that you develop a good business plan before you leap into farming. It will help direct your hard earned $ towards the most profitable end.
 

DavisBeefmasters

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I may be butchering the exact phrase... but here goes...

"Cattle will never make a good living... but it makes a great life"... :D
 

SRBeef

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You mentioned a book above.

I would suggest another that I feel is a very useful introduction to cattle for new comers, the best one I've read:

http://www.back40books.com/get_item_978 ... tle-hf.htm

You can purchase it through Amazon or a couple other sources also. I highly recommend it. It is a cattle nuts and bolts book and not very expensive.

After you finish that one, I suggest you try this one for less nuts and bolts but some cattle philosophy:

http://www.amazon.com/Salad-Bar-Beef-Jo ... 096381091X

Good luck in your venture.
 

rockridgecattle

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Hello from Manitoba,

Talk to some of the ranchers there. Don't forget basic infrastructure like simple handling facilities to handle sick or calving cows. simple but expandable as $ allow. As well, from the perspective of ranchin, it's hard to make a go of it on just cows. Right now cows are cheap, fuel is expensive, fertilizer is out of this world, feed is going up, and you will need the use of a good vet and that is not cheap. COOL is coming, might have a good or bad impact on the price of calves in the fall. Wish we had Canadian COOL, might come yet.
You might want to keep the herd smaller for now and consider maybe selling eggs as farm gate sales. Less input cost an money in your pocket. Everyone wants fresh eggs. We sell for $1.75 a dozen and can't keep them in stock. We have 85 birds and i am booked a week in advance right now. If i had the time I would have another 100.
Another idea that does not have alot of infrastructure and is on the rise is goats or sheep. If you time your markets right you can make a good buck. We have friends in goats and they would like to unload the cows cause goats is where the $ are made
Honey is also on the rise as well. It's gone from .80/pound to 1.60/pound. it as well does not need the heavy infrustructure that cows need. we are into honey and they have paid for the luxery of cows.
We have a few oldtimer farmers out here. Just like anywhere. This is paraphrased from them:
I'm just a rancher, I know nothing elses, It's hard to get by (these are guys who made a good coin at cattle pre BSE). The ones that are going to make it, ride out the slump, are the ones who are diversified, who know something other than cows.

On another note, make a note to check out the requirements for cattle, manditory tags, proper shipping protocols, BSE servailance testing on downers or dead stock, disease prevention such as scours, IBR BVD.
Lastly, banks are not lending on cows right now. The will not even look at you if you are coming in for a loan and you have cattle. Some are even calling in cattle related loans.

Finally look at finding an off farm job. To pay for the day to day expenses of living. Up until last year both my husband and i drove school bus regular routes, now he got laid off, and i still drive full time. In these times you have to do what it takes to make it work...it just takes more of it.
 
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Saskbound

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Wow i really wasnt expecting to get this much help on the responses :)...thank you all very very much. Im heading out in July/August to the farm to both visit my grandparents and survey they area and see whats some of the old school farmers say. I have written down alot of the gameplan ideas from you guys and am feeling pretty confident in the things i can ask and not look a complete moron hehe. The hardest thing for me is do i pack up everything i know here in Calgary and start fresh with a whole new outlook and new "profession". Like i said before i wont be jumping into anything and you guys have given me alot to ask, get informed and also think about. Once again i really apprecite all the help and advice...ill post again with my findings when i get back from the trip :)
 

jonbri55

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I'm just a small timer-enough to feed my family and maybe someone else...but what about the specialty market? You know, organically grown beef. I don't know how Canada is, but here in the Pacific NW the organic market is pretty good. People will pay more for it. I know there are about a bazillion rules and regs here though to be able to legally market "organic" so I don't know if the cost outweighs the profit. But with all the slaughterhouse scares and such it may be something worth looking into.
 

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