It's expensive

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farmerjan
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Re: It's expensive

Postby farmerjan » Mon May 22, 2017 11:23 am

Brute is right on. We started small, I had a 2 horse then a 4 horse trailer that doubled as a cattle trailer and had the pickup as the vehicle. Then got a few more cows, (started with 5) and then raised a few heifers up and got to 25. Had a neighbor make the hay or grazed it all and bought hay. Had nurse cows to raise 3to 8 calves per lactation. Gave me some to sell.

Then my son graduated high school, moved down here with me, and got a job and started expanding. Got an old used tractor, then an old square baler with the wisconsin engine on it so we could pull it with a smaller tractor and didn't need a live pto. Had been cutting with a sickle bar on the tractor and using a dump rake and pitching it onto the truck and up into the hay mow. Then got a few more cows, had some sheep, had some hogs, raised feeder pigs. Good sideline until the bottom dropped out.
Then got another tractor, then a round baler, and the haybine . Up to about 50 cows. Then he decided to finance a group and bought 40 more. We had some rented ground so it worked out. We kept heifers, bought some sorry breds for little of nothing, kept some heifers. Started culling for dispositions more, bought some more cows when a few people were selling out. Up to about 75-80 cows.

We bought most of the inventory of a friend that was dying of cancer; equipment and cows. Financed at a very reasonable rate, interest was in the 3% range, and it was done to help give the widow an income when he was gone. Cows were for 3 years, their off spring paid all the payments, all are gone as they were older but we got them at pound price and have several heifers now in the herd from them. Equipment is longer term but rate is low also. Went to 150 head to make it work then to 200 as we kept getting asked to rent this place or that place. Now have lost a few places due to sales, and are back to about 175 head brood cows. We paid off a bunch of stuff when the prices were way up a few years ago, and have upgraded our discbine and bought another USED round baler. Bought 75 acres that the cattle are paying for and then the house and 3 acres that went with it that the rent pays for. We are spread out and not sure if it is the way to go but it is holding it's own.

The tractors will be around for awhile so it does reduce the cost per head. We use and reuse and fix .... The discbine was turned in for a new one after looking at cost, value on our old one, and repair costs for the old one. We use it alot, and constant repairs and down time don't help. It made sense to go for a new one. But we have some 40 yr old tractors and older and don't plan on any new ones unless we hit the lottery.
We are strictly commercial, a few registered cows but don't pursue the reg market. Buy and use good bulls, and they stay around for years if they don't have problems or get mean. We cull more seriously for attitude in the cows and heifers that we keep. I am older and can't run fast enough to get out of the way of a contrary cow. They leave. Heifers have to be quiet, come to a bucket to the catch pen and not want to take off for the back 40 when they see me. Don't care how nice they are, they leave.
It's taken us 35 plus years to get here. My son will have alot more going for him because I had 5 cows when I started out and he has helped to build it. But there are UNTOLD hours of backbreaking work in what we have. And I am proud of him for working for it.

It is in the size as to what is practical to own. When you get to a certain size you have to have more equipment to be able to get things done when they need to get done. I have owned one new truck, 1979 f-150 2wd pickup. Every single vehicle since then has been used. Newest truck is 2000 I think, my "new" car is 2000 Subaru Forrester. Most all of our trucks are in the 90's. We have a full line of equipment, and they get used. Not into any one "color", it just has to do the job. Tractors are all 20 yrs old or older, balers, rakes, wagons, drill, harrows, all used. It helps to buy from a dispersal sale if you know how the equipment was maintained, or like we did from someone privately. It also has to do with whether you have to have things to look at, and to impress others, or whether you have stuff that is usable, functional, and doesn't have to have a big price tag.
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Re: It's expensive

Postby Stocker Steve » Mon May 22, 2017 12:03 pm

[quote="farmerjan"]Then my son graduated high school, moved down here with me, and got a job and started expanding. quote]

What would you do differently if it was a one person operation?
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Re: It's expensive

Postby farmerjan » Mon May 22, 2017 10:12 pm

If it was just me, I would've stayed in the 20 cow range, raised more on my nurse cows. Bought hay and grazed my land. Probably wouldn't have rented much except for some summer grazing to give the home farm a rest. It was too much for me alone, and working all the hours I was working to try to make the payments, so it was a blessing that he moved down here.
I lost the first place after a couple of bad years and I realized that I just couldn't do what I wanted on the scale I was at, so it was either get down to a half dozen and just be a homesteader, or do it differently. Plus it was poor land, and it would never have supported more than 5-10 head.

Sometimes I wonder if it is worth it to have gotten this big, but we have flexibility with the size we are and buying some cattle when the prices are low, like breds are now. We can take a little more advantage of the markets and spread the cattle out on rented land and get more grazing if there are fewer animals, or keep more when we have a surplus of grass and hay. If we get into dry conditions, we have enough places to be able to rotate around and buy animals if prices drop way off and others are forced to sell. We can sell when things are higher, and just run fewer cattle on places or move things around and leave some places idle for 6 months then have more grazing into the winter months.
Getting near retirement has made things look different as the income from "my cattle" will nicely supplement my expected SS in a few years. If we weren't this size, I would not be able to add a few head each year like I am now, knowing that there is enough room to add some. It gives me more options then I would have had by being only a small 20 cow operation and needing the income from every one every year to survive. By us owning some joint, any "half" income from their sales I automatically put right back into the operation as part of my "board" for my cattle, and my labor also is part of "payment" for their upkeep. Income from my son's cattle goes towards all his expenses and equipment, land and everything else. He owns approx 75 % of the animals, maybe 5-7% are joint and the rest are mine. He has no real interest in the dairy animals that I like, so they are my projects, my expense as far as grain, and my income. It works out pretty good for us both and he is building equity, and will hopefully have things paid off by the time he is in his mid 50's. His job pays his house mtg., but the farm income pays for all the farm stuff.
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Re: It's expensive

Postby Bigfoot » Mon May 22, 2017 10:54 pm

I had another big day------3 buggies of fertilizer, six 2 1/2 gallon jugs of 2 four d, and another flat.
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Re: It's expensive

Postby Lazy M » Tue May 23, 2017 1:47 am

Bigfoot wrote:I had another big day------3 buggies of fertilizer, six 2 1/2 gallon jugs of 2 four d, and another flat.

Whoa BF you're blowing through $ like a sailor at port (except you're not having nearly as much fun). I've got you for another $4k (if the buggies were full)?
You've got to spend money to make money (or so I'm told).
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Re: It's expensive

Postby tom4018 » Tue May 23, 2017 5:53 am

tom4018 wrote:
Stocker Steve wrote:
tom4018 wrote:Sure wish I could figure out how to keep a cow for $120 a year.


These are the same folks that start their tax return with the refund they want and then work backwards. :nod:

Are you talking about me?

Come on Steve, are you implying I am one of those because I can't keep a cow for $120 a year?
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Re: It's expensive

Postby 1982vett » Tue May 23, 2017 6:58 am

Bigfoot wrote:I had another big day------3 buggies of fertilizer, six 2 1/2 gallon jugs of 2 four d, and another flat.

Can hear that pocketbook cry from here.... :D


Haven't bought my chemicals yet. Had planned to last week but the wind was horrible and rain set in over the weekend.
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Re: It's expensive

Postby Stocker Steve » Tue May 23, 2017 10:57 am

Bigfoot wrote:I had another big day------3 buggies of fertilizer, six 2 1/2 gallon jugs of 2 four d, and another flat.


Need to add some seed, meds, and repair parts to make it a really big day.
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Re: It's expensive

Postby Bigfoot » Tue Jun 13, 2017 8:26 pm

Having another Ag Economic cattle thread running right now, reminded me of this one.

Had another high dollar day:
Paid for 6 tons of feed
Bought 10 50lb bags of feed
Bought 6 more 2 1/2 gallon jugs of 2 four D
15 more fence post
About 80 gallons of diesel......I need a bigger tank, all these trips get old
4 safe guard worming blocks-----Cheaper ways to worm, but it's too hot for all that.
Farrier came today, and put shoes on 4 head. Not exactly cow related, but the money was green.
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Re: It's expensive

Postby pricefarm » Tue Jun 13, 2017 9:25 pm

Bigfoot wrote:Having another Ag Economic cattle thread running right now, reminded me of this one.

Had another high dollar day:
Paid for 6 tons of feed
Bought 10 50lb bags of feed
Bought 6 more 2 1/2 gallon jugs of 2 four D
15 more fence post
About 80 gallons of diesel......I need a bigger tank, all these trips get old
4 safe guard worming blocks-----Cheaper ways to worm, but it's too hot for all that.
Farrier came today, and put shoes on 4 head. Not exactly cow related, but the money was green.


Do the safe guard blocks really work?
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Re: It's expensive

Postby Bigfoot » Tue Jun 13, 2017 9:33 pm

pricefarm wrote:
Bigfoot wrote:Having another Ag Economic cattle thread running right now, reminded me of this one.

Had another high dollar day:
Paid for 6 tons of feed
Bought 10 50lb bags of feed
Bought 6 more 2 1/2 gallon jugs of 2 four D
15 more fence post
About 80 gallons of diesel......I need a bigger tank, all these trips get old
4 safe guard worming blocks-----Cheaper ways to worm, but it's too hot for all that.
Farrier came today, and put shoes on 4 head. Not exactly cow related, but the money was green.


Do the safe guard blocks really work?

Shy of doing a fecal test, I'm ashamed to say I don't know. Buying them on the gut instinct that some calves I've bought needed wormed again, may be why I don't make any money. I have used them, and swore that I could see calves turn around. I can't prove a radical statement like that though. The active ingredient fenbendawhatever does work. I do know that.
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Re: It's expensive

Postby RanchMan90 » Tue Jun 13, 2017 9:36 pm

Bigfoot wrote:Having another Ag Economic cattle thread running right now, reminded me of this one.

Had another high dollar day:
Paid for 6 tons of feed
Bought 10 50lb bags of feed
Bought 6 more 2 1/2 gallon jugs of 2 four D
15 more fence post
About 80 gallons of diesel......I need a bigger tank, all these trips get old
4 safe guard worming blocks-----Cheaper ways to worm, but it's too hot for all that.
Farrier came today, and put shoes on 4 head. Not exactly cow related, but the money was green.

Trading dollars. What do you think about all these greenies saying you can get by with no feed, fertilizer, spray, and limited hay? Do you think lowering stocking rate to accomplish this would affect the bottom line positively? I ponder it at times while I'm paying big bills also...
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Re: It's expensive

Postby Bigfoot » Tue Jun 13, 2017 9:50 pm

RanchMan90 wrote:
Bigfoot wrote:Having another Ag Economic cattle thread running right now, reminded me of this one.

Had another high dollar day:
Paid for 6 tons of feed
Bought 10 50lb bags of feed
Bought 6 more 2 1/2 gallon jugs of 2 four D
15 more fence post
About 80 gallons of diesel......I need a bigger tank, all these trips get old
4 safe guard worming blocks-----Cheaper ways to worm, but it's too hot for all that.
Farrier came today, and put shoes on 4 head. Not exactly cow related, but the money was green.

Trading dollars. What do you think about all these greenies saying you can get by with no feed, fertilizer, spray, and limited hay? Do you think lowering stocking rate to accomplish this would affect the bottom line positively? I ponder it at times while I'm paying big bills also...


I wonder the same thing myself. I put myself to sleep most nights thinking about cutting back. Not to get out of the work necessarily, just mulling over would it financially make more sense. I bring a lot of hay in, so I can graze more. The hay is junk, so I supplement. Lots of dollar trading going on here on my place. Plus, I've got just enough cows running around here, that I come in to a different head ache every afternoon. Less cows, less expense, less headaches. My fixed cost stay the same wether I have 40 cows, or 120. I guess that's what keeps me from doing it.
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Re: It's expensive

Postby Stocker Steve » Wed Jun 14, 2017 4:10 am

RanchMan90 wrote: Trading dollars. What do you think about all these greenies saying you can get by with no feed, fertilizer, spray, and limited hay? Do you think lowering stocking rate to accomplish this would affect the bottom line positively? I ponder it at times while I'm paying big bills also...


More inputs can pay off when commodity prices are high. Seems like there are 3 to 4 high priced years in a 10 to 12 year price cycle. Problem is some folks an get into high input high stocking rate habits and are not able to adjust when prices drop. Hate to buy stuff and be wrong 75% of the time.

Experts talk about having a group of cattle that go when there is weather drought. Same topic applies when there is an economic drought. Market is telling us they want less beef. Ideally you have something else to produce that is profitable and still covers the overhead.

Optimizing stocking rate can get to be complicated because you are messing with both lb/acre and lb/head/day over multiple seasons. I think you may be best off with an outline of a plan, then measure weights and forage periodically to help know when to pull the trigger.

I cut my cow herd 27% and increased number of yearlings. Overall stocking rate is down about 15%. Planning to do more backgrounding this fall. Very much a work in progress.
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Re: It's expensive

Postby callmefence » Wed Jun 14, 2017 7:01 am

Bigfoot wrote:
pricefarm wrote:
Bigfoot wrote:Having another Ag Economic cattle thread running right now, reminded me of this one.

Had another high dollar day:
Paid for 6 tons of feed
Bought 10 50lb bags of feed
Bought 6 more 2 1/2 gallon jugs of 2 four D
15 more fence post
About 80 gallons of diesel......I need a bigger tank, all these trips get old
4 safe guard worming blocks-----Cheaper ways to worm, but it's too hot for all that.
Farrier came today, and put shoes on 4 head. Not exactly cow related, but the money was green.


Do the safe guard blocks really work?

Shy of doing a fecal test, I'm ashamed to say I don't know. Buying them on the gut instinct that some calves I've bought needed wormed again, may be why I don't make any money. I have used them, and swore that I could see calves turn around. I can't prove a radical statement like that though. The active ingredient fenbendawhatever does work. I do know that.


I use them on pastures were we don't have good pens. And sometime at home between ivomec. I don't have any hard evidence but I do believe I've seen improvements after using them. The obvious knock against them is no dosage control. And price
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