Change the Cow – NOT the Environment –

Cows must fit their environment to stay in production.   Common sense tells us it is much easier, as well as much more profitable, to change the cow to fit the environment than it is to artificially change the environment to fit the cow.

 Your environment can only support so much size, growth and milk.   Once you go beyond that point, you will have to reduce stocking rates and/or use expensive inputs to artificially change the environment.   That may have worked when calf prices were ridiculously high a few years ago – but it won’t work now.

Be Honest with Yourself –

 

If you are a cow-calf producer, I encourage you to be honest with yourself when you answer the following two questions.   Were you profitable in 2019?   If you were profitable, would you be able to prosper with that level of profitability year after year after year?   According to what I have read and heard, very few cow-calf producers showed much profit in 2019.   Most did good just to break even.   Many did not break even.

Contrary to popular opinion, there are many cow-calf producers who were very profitable in 2019.  

Feed Efficiency… How We Got It All Wrong

Defining and measuring feed efficiency is something I have always struggled with.   It’s definitely not as easy as science wants it to be.   Science wants to break everything down into understandable bits and pieces.   Unfortunately, that won’t work in the real world.   The real world is made up of wholes with thousands of interactive pieces.

Before we continue, we need to understand that all beef animals fall into two basic categories.   Some animals are destined to end up on the dinner table, while others are working in a cowherd to produce more beef animals.  

Can’t Do That Here –

 No matter where I go, I hear people say, “You can’t do that here,” in reference to many of the management concepts we share in our presentations, our newsletters and our PCC Updates.   In most cases, there are people within 100 miles of them doing exactly what they say cannot be done.   Most of the “can’t do that here” people are slowly but surely going broke as the cost of inputs continues to increase.

 Henry Ford once said,

Who is Working for Who?

 

While most people work for their money, the most successful people make their money work for them.   Likewise, while most cattlemen work for their cows, the most successful cattlemen make their cows work for them.   Who is working for who on your farm or ranch?

 A cow ought to be supporting the ranch – instead of being supported by the ranch!   Who is working for who?   The only cows that can effectively support the ranch are moderate-sized,

Report from West Virginia –

I flew to West Virginia last Thursday.   I spoke to a group of cow-calf producers Friday night.   I was happily surprised to see so many PCC customers at that meeting.   I think there were people from seven or eight different states.   The Spiker Dispersal Sale took place on Saturday.   John Spiker purchased a load of PCC-Influenced heifers and a PCC bull in the fall of 2008.   He has been using PCC genetics exclusively since then.   A few of those original cows are still in production.

Create the Future of Your Dreams –

 

If success was easy, everyone would be remarkably successful.   Unfortunately, very few people can be classified as remarkably successful.   Success, however, does appear to be easy for some people.   If you look closer, you will discover those people are very driven and focused.   They make things happen.   They see opportunities most people miss.   They are not afraid to step outside their comfort zone.   They are not afraid to try what others say cannot be done.

We still believe there will be more opportunities for you and your family operation to advance in the next ten years than there have been in the last 30 years – but only if you are able to break away from the status quo,

Understanding… the Cost and the Value of Gain –

 

It seems as though most cow-calf producers are always looking for ways to increase weaning weights.   They can accomplish their goal by using large-framed, high-growth bulls, feeding expensive supplements, implanting calves and by using wormers and other toxic chemicals.  Of course, the companies that market these products claim they will increase both pounds and profit.   While these products may increase calf weights, they don’t necessarily increase profits. 

 The example below illustrates that not all pounds produced are created equal and that the value of gain is often much lower than we think. 

Thanksgiving –

 

 

Most Americans will be getting together with family and friends tomorrow to celebrate Thanksgiving Day.   Perhaps the following Old Testament verses will help prepare us for this special day.

 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.   Be careful that you do not forget the Lord…   Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down,

Challenging Times –

Monday morning, I read an article in which US Senator John Hoevan from North Dakota said, “These are challenging times for beef producers.”   A 65-year-old rancher from North Dakota was then quoted as saying, “We are at a tipping point in our industry.”   He went on to say, “Ranching is a great way to raise a family.   I would like to see my children be able to carry on this way of life.”   Obviously, this discussion took place in North Dakota.   However, I maintain it could have taken place in any beef-producing state.

Testimony of a… Young, First-Generation Rancher –

Kit and Company,

Kat and I received an award from a local farm/ranch organization Sunday evening.   It was called the Young Producer of the Year award.   We were very honored to have a group of local producers recognize us for what we have been able to achieve in our short ranching career.  

However, I was very disappointed in the overall negative tone of the rest of the meeting.   There seemed to be no hope for anyone in production agriculture.  

Fall Bull Sale Analysis

We sold 338 low-maintenance, grass-developed bulls in our two fall bull sales for an average price of $5113 – with a range of $2000 to $15,500.   Below is a brief analysis of our two sales.   Calving ease, fleshing ability, disposition, overall rating, and grass efficiency were evaluated and scored using our unique 5-star system.   In this system, 5-star is the best and 3-star is about average.

Cost Per Calf –

 

 

According to the Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC), the cost of producing a calf has increased from $384 in 2000 to $883 in 2014.   It more than doubled in just 14 years.   Keep in mind, though, that this is an average cost of production.   Some cow-calf producers have a much higher cost of production, while others have a much lower cost of production.

 Most longtime PCC customers have a cost of production of $400 to $500 per calf.  

Is Average Good Enough?

 In commodity agriculture, average is breakeven.   Below average producers are losing money.   The only way they can stay in business is to subsidize the farm or ranch with outside income.   Above average producers are profitable.   Some are extremely profitable.   They are profitable because their management differs substantially from average producers.   They have a distinct competitive advantage.

 Most PCC Customers are well above average.   Many have doubled their profits.   They are focused on production per acre – instead of production per cow (bragging rights).  

True Story –

 

 John Nino, a PCC customer from California, showed up at our Nebraska Bull Sale last Saturday.   He and a couple of companions were in the area to buy some horses.   John purchased some bulls while at the sale.   While he was waiting for health papers, he came into the office to visit.   John shared the following story with everyone in the office – a story that I remember very well.

 The morning of our 2007 Colorado Fall Bull Sale (12 years ago),

Making the Transition –

 

The most gratifying part of my job is hearing from people who made the transition from high-input, break-even ranching to low-input, profitable ranching.   I receive emails on a weekly basis from those who are so glad they made the transition when they did.   Most wonder why it took so long to see the light.   I can remember having the same thoughts myself over 30 years ago.   Making a paradigm shift of this magnitude is not easy.

I visited with many PCC customers at our spring bull sales.  

Grassfed Beef… The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (part 3) –

By Tim Goodnight

 

 Over the past two weeks, we have discussed several important areas that producers must address in order to produce high-quality grassfed beef.  This week, I would like to discuss two of the most frequently asked questions we hear when visiting with customers.

 Endophyte-infected fescue is one thing many PCC customers ask about.  With endophyte-infected fescue accounting for 35 million acres of grassland and hosting 8.5 million head of cattle,

The Willingness to Change –

By Kit Pharo

 

Whether you want to believe it or not, your long-term success in the cow-calf business will be dependent on your willingness to make some changes.   We all have the ability to change – but not everyone has the willingness to change.   Unfortunately, most producers will not change until they are forced to change.

Cattle prices will continue to go up and down,

Grassfed Beef… The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (part 2) –

By Tim Goodnight

 In last week’s discussion on what is required to produce quality grassfed beef, I focused on animal genetics.   While selecting the right genetics is essential to producing quality grassfed beef, there are several other factors to consider.

 Grassfed beef producers face many challenges that the feedyards do not.   Feedyards are very good at producing vast amounts of beef in confined areas using formulated rations.   Unfortunately, many consumers feel these production practices produce beef that lacks flavor.