Changing opportunities

For the dairy folks and/or beef folks with questions about udders, milk and mastitis.
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regolith
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Changing opportunities

Postby regolith » Sun Jun 15, 2014 2:50 pm

I started out about a decade ago setting up my own herd by taking all the savings I had at the time to buy and rear dairy heifer calves. Two years later I took those in-calf heifers, and some cows purchased with a bank loan, to another farm to milk them.
In those years, I had complete confidence that I was going to succeed in that venture.

Today I think I'd be scared to start.
I haven't seen prices for in-calf heifers match the costs to rear them for around five years.
I never would have thought it would be harder to get a sharemilking contract with an established herd, experience and good references than it was the first time round.

If a young person asked me today, "Is this a good way to get started in herd-owning sharemilking" I don't know what I'd tell them.
It worked for me.
Maybe I was luckier than I realised. But everyone is saying it, things have changed since then.
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Re: Changing opportunities

Postby Hook » Sun Jun 15, 2014 3:09 pm

Seems to me you've made your own luck through hard work and a head on your shoulders. That alone will set you apart from a lot of the population
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Re: Changing opportunities

Postby bigbull338 » Sun Jun 15, 2014 6:29 pm

rego i dont care where you are getting in the dairy business today is harder than it was when we went to milking cows 42yrs ago.the EPA regs are so tight now its not funny.not to mention the start up cost to buy cows and basic bare bones equipment and rent or buy a dairy.plus now days you need to milk a minum of 400 cows ans ship a tanker of milk every other day.and i dont even know if you could make it doing that.
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Re: Changing opportunities

Postby regolith » Mon Jun 16, 2014 7:46 am

In this country an all-grass 400 cow farm is a two person job... a couple can do it if they don't have kids. That 400 cows wouldn't do the production a herd on TMR will do... but they don't have the same costs either.

I thought I was going to be wrong there about 'not getting rearing costs back' on in-calf heifers. Instead it ended up in a situation you should be savvy enough to avoid when selling stock...
Stock agent called me today, says he's got a buyer for five of the nine heifers I listed with him a while back, reasonable money (about double what I saw low quality heifers selling for last month) but he's picking the top indexing ones out of the eight. So although I'm annoyed he picked off the old list before I pulled off the ones I'd decided to keep, I say, come see them and that price is okay. I'd planned to sell only six since a couple of my cows had lost their calves.
The stock agent arrived and it turned out one of the ones the buyer had picked was one I'd already told him had lost her calf. So we cut the other four out and he thinks one is a bit small, he'd have to check with his buyer.
Confirmed it this evening. I've sold *three* in-calf heifers at decent money and the buyer got his pick out of eight. You never, ever do that if you're serious about selling a group because you won't shift the rejected ones for the same money. Stock agent indicated the buyer might be interested in some of my other (not listed for sale) heifers.

Because that's what they all want to do. Walk through your herd and pick out the best. I'm not selling any of the others, and I've got enough grass to feed the rest of the ones on the sale list through to spring.
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bigbull338
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Re: Changing opportunities

Postby bigbull338 » Mon Jun 16, 2014 9:00 am

heres the way we usually bought heifers.we would have it understood with and agreed with buy the seller that we get to pick what we wanted for a set price.and if we had to buy say group of 5 we adjusted the price on the group.so we wasnt paying high for the bad bagged heifers.
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Re: Changing opportunities

Postby TexasBred » Mon Jun 16, 2014 3:57 pm

We use to sell some heavy bred cow. I simply gave the prospective buyer the price, interest rate if he wanted me to finance them, penned the cattle and let the boys walk them by him one at a time. He could pick what he wanted. They came with no guarantees of any kind other than being bred and production and breeding records were furnished on the ones he picked. When he drove off they belonged to him. There were no cows with bad udders or less than 4 perfectly good teats.
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Re: Changing opportunities

Postby regolith » Mon Jun 16, 2014 7:03 pm

Yep, I've offered a 'pick' plenty of times before but it'll be like "here's twenty you can pick fifteen", and they are all sound in the udder &c.
In this instance I wasn't offering a pick. I'm pretty excited about the heifers I've got coming in this year and it was *hard* to select any that I could let go of, the nine heifers were offered as a group on a take it or leave it basis, six weeks ago. Market wasn't strong at the time and I ought to have revised the group and contacted another agent, this buyer has had the opportunity to pick from the original group and flick out the ones he didn't want.
I guess I could have walked away from the deal too, selling five at that price would have been a good deal for me but three is just wasting my time and leaving me with either harder to sell stock, or having to sell my really good cows.

I learned that the two cows I sold as budgets last month have been bought to rear calves, which I'm sure they'll both do a great job at... one of them her only issue was that she gets milking machine damage in one teat regardless of how good the machines are, without the machine she'll be a good producer & all round great cow.
I do think if the buyer wanted cows to rear calves he could have got cows that were good for the job for less money than he paid for those two.

The heifer that was 'too small' her grandmother and mother's sister were/are among my top cows, but her mother wasn't very good - conformation or production, her production improved in her second and third lactation. So I'm actually quite keen to give her a chance and see if she takes after her grandmother rather than her mother.
I don't understand farmers who buy cattle without coming to see them. This buyer has never seen the heifers, he's relying on the stock agent to look at them and say they fit what he wants, and I've sold a couple of other groups 'unseen' in the past. If it's a South Island buyer that's understandable but not when they live local.
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Re: Changing opportunities

Postby regolith » Mon Jun 16, 2014 7:34 pm

The alternative to offering a pick is to offer computer selection. I've bought cows on computer selection but I'll never sell that way, I care too much about the genetics of individual animals in my herd to do that.
In that instance I visited the herd, discussed the selection criteria, a computer splits a sale group out that matches the herd average for that criteria, Once that group is drafted I visit and look them over.
With hindsight I ought to have been a lot harder on that second visit, and insisted on seeing production & ancestry records... I wasn't offered a lot and I didn't know that when I mentioned faults and the stock agent said "that's nothing", I still had the right to utterly reject those cows and pick out sound ones instead.

With their in-calf heifers I got to pick out of the whole group, which was a really good deal, paid a fairly low price for them too. (I paid a low price for the computer-selected cows as well but not less than they were worth, those cows pulled my herd average backwards) Again I did something that with more experience I know not to do. The vendors had separated off the heifers that didn't have full ancestry records. I picked about four out of that group; I picked well I think as three of them turned out to be really good cows and the vendor said at the time that I'd selected the ones that they were sure were 'lost records' and not 'got sired by some random scrub bull'. But those missing records will show up forever in their progeny and in my herd 'recorded ancestry' percentage, it's a pedigree gap that will never be filled and the animals themselves can't be resold easily.
So today, I think I wouldn't knowingly buy cattle with unknown parentage however good they look.
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bigbull338
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Re: Changing opportunities

Postby bigbull338 » Mon Jun 16, 2014 7:39 pm

ive been known to buy cattle sight unseen.but thats because i trust the people im doing business with.
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Re: Changing opportunities

Postby TexasBred » Tue Jun 17, 2014 9:06 am

regolith wrote:Yep, I've offered a 'pick' plenty of times before but it'll be like "here's twenty you can pick fifteen", and they are all sound in the udder &c.

:lol2: :lol2: Old cowman trick....put the 5 extras in there you know they will cut back and they end up buying the ones you want them to buy. ;-)
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bigbull338
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Re: Changing opportunities

Postby bigbull338 » Tue Jun 17, 2014 10:06 am

but sometimes if you do that they take all 20.over 30yrs ago i bought cattle off of a man that had a dairy right in the middle of mesquite texas but heck he owned a good bit of dallas.he made me pay $1 a lb for springing holstein heifers that had been out of holtex bulls for over 30 years.we would pick what we wanted teat them then run them accross the truck scales to weigh before we payed for them.
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Re: Changing opportunities

Postby regolith » Tue Jun 17, 2014 2:51 pm

TexasBred wrote:
regolith wrote:Yep, I've offered a 'pick' plenty of times before but it'll be like "here's twenty you can pick fifteen", and they are all sound in the udder &c.

:lol2: :lol2: Old cowman trick....put the 5 extras in there you know they will cut back and they end up buying the ones you want them to buy. ;-)


It's tempting to do just that...
Never done it yet.
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