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Anonymous

I wonder if any of you well-experienced cattlemen and women would care to weigh in on the following: Name and/or discuss the one or two things you have done that had the most profound effect on the profitability of your cattle operation (or that at least significantly decreased your losses!).

I know that some of the frequently cited things are decisions like: switching to a controlled breeding season, starting to use only test station bulls, using rotational grazing, forming marketing alliances, going black --- and a bunch of others. But I just thought it might be interesting to hear some other folks' ideas and experiences on the subject if any of you care to. Maybe we can all pick up a useful idea or two. Thanks, Arnold Ziffle
 

nrs farm

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Probably the one thing we changed was using corn silage in the winter feeding program for our cows to replace much of the hay. You have to be careful not to get them fat but it is a lot cheaper.
 
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Anonymous

The biggest theing we have done to increase our bottom line is to join the local precondition/prevac feeder calf sale. This on average has increase our bottom line over 30 cents per pound over local aution house or cattle dealers. You must understand there are only 2 weekly aution houses that deal in cattle left in the state. The 2nd thing that has impacted the bottom line is records. Nothing replaces a good set of records to make decision what cows to keep in the herd and which ones need to grow wheels. It also helps when you select heifers to inter back into the herd. The 3rd thing is read, visit fellow ranchers/farmers and attend all the training and semiars you can get to. You never know when or where you will discover that money or time saving idea that adds to your bottom line. Dad has been doing mig since the 60's when he milked cows in oregon. I am experimenting with water tubs in the pasture so the cows do not walk back to the barn for water. I am always open to new ideas.

pat
 

Craig-TX

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We don’t run a sophisticated operation. While there are numerous areas that are mission critical to success, it pays to concentrate on the tried and true wisdom that comes down from those before us. I’m no luddite, but in my way of thinking a rancher will put more in his hip pocket by practicing prudent management than chasing a new technology, certain breed or the latest idea. Making money in cattle all goes back to the basics of keeping costs and expenses down. To me, that is more important to profitability than figuring out novel ways to increase income. Chief among the basics is not spending a lot of money (stock, Rx, fancy remedies or preventatives, etc.), minimizing risk (vaccinating, avoiding first calf heifers, not overstocking, etc.), and being quick to cull. Maybe it’s boring and old fashioned, but it works.

AZ, I suspect that I’m pretty safe on this comment. I don’t expect to hear much static from you or Dun or the others that have been at this for a good long while.

Craig-TX
 
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Anonymous

Craig -- thanks for your comments. I believe you and I think pretty much alike most times and you'll certainly never get any static from me.

I've can't say that I've ever done any one thing that I thought made a huge difference to my humble little operation, just a bunch of small things that hopefully will add up. I too try to be real snug with a buck and don't spend on flashy equipment or things that I don't really think can be economically justified. I don't think I run my little place like most "gentlemen ranchers" that I have seen (or the joke farm ranchers that our friend Blackpower is so "fond" of). Looking back now with the benefit of hindsight and some experience I see that a lot of the positive things I did were really no-brainers. We can all continue to learn, but I sure wish I knew on day one what I know now!

I keep very good records on my cows, their calving dates and what each of their calves ultimately weigh and bring when sold. And I keep a diary of sorts and write down my observations of even minor significance each time I return home from my place. Of course I know all that's probably easier for me to do than it is for the large outfits. I'm currently just a part-timer with little operation and have never had more than 39 mama cows at any one time.

But a few thinkgs stand out in my mind as to what I have done WRONG. I need to be more like you and some of the other full-time guys when it comes to culling. I realize that I'm still WAY to slow to cull cows that haven't performed up to par, and I give a few of them too many extra chances. The second thing is that in my neck of the woods we absolutely need to deworm at least twice a year. Some years back I got a little lazy and "penny wise pound foolish" on this and didn't deworm for a couple of years. At first there was no apparent adverse consequence. Then we had a very rainy middle to late summer that created optimum parasite conditions, I got extemely busy with my "real" job and it seemed like almost before I knew it about a third of my cows were in really sad shape due to worms and flukes. Fortunately I didn't lose any but it sure set them back for a good while. Lastly, I need to try to do less hay buying and more forage stockpiling.

Kindest regards, Arnold Ziffle
 

dun

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As long as it isn't taken to extremes you're 100% correct. The problem I see around here are people running cows that are marginal producers and the first thing they start to skip on is vaccination, worming and minerals. There cost of production may be less but when the calf crop is in the 50-60% range and the calves that are weaned are 50 lbs lighter then they should be, saving money ends up costing. The trick is finding out what is just necessary, no frills, but quality products/stock/equipment.
But finding new markets for your waste also helps the bottom line.
I knew a hog farmer that got paid by the slaughter house to dispose of the rumen contents and by the milk processor to dispose of overage/bad milk. He sprayed the rumen stuff on pastures and grazed hogs. The milk yuck was used to supplement them. That to me is just being creative and a good businessman.
It's the old deal of one mans trash is another mans treasure. Use everything you have well and you can make money in any business.
Finding a profitable market that you can fill without making much change will put bucks in your pocket, i.e., a quality bull rather then a pound bull.
If your local market is for big cattle, you'll cut your throat will small ones. If you get paid for quality grade, trying to sell select cattle into that market will kill you.
AI and being able to repair or fabricate most of what is needed is probably our biggest contributrs.
But so much of being succesfull goes bakc to the area you're in, what is a real profit enhancer for one place may just be excess costs for another.
But that's just an old pharts opinion!

dun

Craig-TX":2rerw2i2 said:
We don’t run a sophisticated operation. While there are numerous areas that are mission critical to success, it pays to concentrate on the tried and true wisdom that comes down from those before us. I’m no luddite, but in my way of thinking a rancher will put more in his hip pocket by practicing prudent management than chasing a new technology, certain breed or the latest idea. Making money in cattle all goes back to the basics of keeping costs and expenses down. To me, that is more important to profitability than figuring out novel ways to increase income. Chief among the basics is not spending a lot of money (stock, Rx, fancy remedies or preventatives, etc.), minimizing risk (vaccinating, avoiding first calf heifers, not overstocking, etc.), and being quick to cull. Maybe it’s boring and old fashioned, but it works.

AZ, I suspect that I’m pretty safe on this comment. I don’t expect to hear much static from you or Dun or the others that have been at this for a good long while.

Craig-TX
 

D.R. Cattle

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Hard to say (like above) that one thing changed the success rating. It's a group of things added together to make a whole. If i had to pick just one, I'd say aggressive culling practices did the most good for me. I started out with a small rag tag team of cows which was stretching my wallet to purchase to say the least. But a few calves here and there, cull out some cows and replace replace replace, throw a good bull into the mix and BAM. I honestly believe I'm delivering a high quality product to the marketplace. But that's definitely not to say that I don't drive myself nuts with scenarios for greater improvement, and probably will till I'm converted back to dust.
 

Craig-TX

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Arnold, I’ve got a town job too. Still a ways to go before retirement, unless I decide to make the jump into cattle full time. Ranching is my second vocation, golf game, therapy and recreation all rolled up in one package. But I do expect it to make money. I’ve been around cattle all my life and love it but it would be too much work if I had to pay to do it.

BTW, all good comments above. Overhead and expenses must be kept to a minimum to be comfortably profitable, but you can’t strangle the goose that lays the eggs.

Craig-TX
 

WILD BILL

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From my experiance the most important idea brought forth in this discussion was by DUN. Know your market !! There is nothing prettier than a pasture full of Herford cows but in the Buckeye state if your not producing something with a 95% black hide you are going to get your butt kicked.
 

dun

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You might want to discuss with your local ag folks and see if there is or they're interested in helping to form a marketing group. The folks at U of MO Columbia helped us get started and still provide graders when we're sorting the first time.
We don;t get docked for any of the cattle that meet the program requirements, if they don;t meet the requirements they don;t get accepted into the program in the first place. We've got Brangus breeders, blk Angus, RED ANGUS AND RED BALDIES, black baldies, some 1/2 Maine, Branvieh, Herfords and crosses of all of the above plus some that I just can't remember. We sell in pot loads of preconditioned calves and alwasy get the top of the market. Some producers are regulars, some come and go depending on circumstances from year to year. We've developed a relationship with a number of feedlots and it's nice to see them competeing for the calves.
It doesn't matter how great your animals are if you can't market them successfully.

dun


WILD BILL":y4kwdu0i said:
There is nothing prettier than a pasture full of Herford cows but in the Buckeye state if your not producing something with a 95% black hide you are going to get your butt kicked.
 

Jake

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Well said Dun. We have two almost three different calving seasons and it's unbelievable how much difference in price you can get for those calves at sale time depending on size of the lot your selling and where you sell them. If we sell at the barn in a lot less than 50 we get docked because of our brand on the side of them because of all the years where we retained everything but the junk so buyers have the mind set that if we sell it there must be something wrong with it. We sell with neighbors sometimes to feedlot order buyers and get a premium which always helps fatten up that thin wallet pocket...
 

Colin Chevalley

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Number one for me was to buy my first Brahman Bull 35 years ago and see the benefits over our Hereford herd.

Number two for me was the purchase of my first South Devon 14 years ago and to see their wonderful temperament and how well they cross with any breed.
 

Frankie

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The best thing we ever did was go to a total AI program. If you're raising registered Angus, you must have a strong AI program. It has been very profitable for us.
 

A. delaGarza

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Craig-TX":pbfvsy85 said:
We don’t run a sophisticated operation. While there are numerous areas that are mission critical to success, it pays to concentrate on the tried and true wisdom that comes down from those before us. I’m no luddite, but in my way of thinking a rancher will put more in his hip pocket by practicing prudent management than chasing a new technology, certain breed or the latest idea. Making money in cattle all goes back to the basics of keeping costs and expenses down. To me, that is more important to profitability than figuring out novel ways to increase income. Chief among the basics is not spending a lot of money (stock, Rx, fancy remedies or preventatives, etc.), minimizing risk (vaccinating, avoiding first calf heifers, not overstocking, etc.), and being quick to cull. Maybe it’s boring and old fashioned, but it works.

AZ, I suspect that I’m pretty safe on this comment. I don’t expect to hear much static from you or Dun or the others that have been at this for a good long while.

Craig-TX

AGREE
 

Campground Cattle

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The reason cattlemen live so long it takes at least two lifetimes to figure out if your doing the right thing. Toatally agree ruthless culling of the herd
 

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