Does Justification Make It Right?

I continue to get emails and phone calls from ranchers who do their best to justify what they are doing.  The fact that they call me makes me think they are beginning to question some of the things they have been doing.  They tell me why they have big, high-maintenance, hard-keeping cows that weigh 1200 to 1500 pounds.  They tell me why they still calve in the winter months.  They tell me why their labor and feed expenses are three to four times higher than they really need to be.

Most of these ranchers will do their best to justify what they are doing because their entire program has always been geared around weaning bigger and bigger calves.  These ranchers are profitable no more than five out of ten years – at best.  They are breakeven ranchers – at best.  They are more concerned about bragging rights than they are about profit.  They are more concerned about bragging rights than they are about enjoyment.  They will have a difficult time talking the next generation into coming back to the ranch.  If ranching isn’t going to be profitable and enjoyable, why ranch?

I no longer waste much time arguing with people like this.  It’s not worth it!  Some people, so it seems, would rather go down with a sinking ship than make the necessary changes and adjustments.  The fact that so many producers remain so focused on increasing production per animal, continues to give you and me a huge competitive advantage.

Don’t take this the wrong way.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t increase production.  Increasing production is a great way to increase profits – BUT ONLY IF we increase production per acre, NOT per animal.  Those who continue to focus on increasing production per animal are slowly, but surely, going broke.  In contrast, those who have been focused on increasing production per acre are at least two times more profitable than the average cow-calf producer.

3 responses to “Does Justification Make It Right?

  1. I believe you’re right, but I see the bragging right ranchers seem to be passing me up and living well, it never seems to catch up with them. I don’t get it!

  2. There are a few that have cheap per head leases, otherwise, I agree that you need to focus on per acre measurements. When I do that yearling operations usually have the best return, and also the highest risk.

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