Ranchers.net Bull Session

What do you want your seedstock producer to do to help you?

Things that come up in the daily operation of a ranch.
BRG
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Postby BRG » Wed Jun 08, 2005 8:01 am

OK, I will agree with that.

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Postby Soapweed » Wed Jun 08, 2005 1:25 pm

Here are my thoughts on the Kit Pharo method of low input ranching, written back on January 25, 2004.

Recently my wife and I had opportunity to attend a talk given by Kit Pharo. He suggests that "low input" ranching has more potential to be profitable than does ranching with higher costs of production. The talk was interesting and informative, and the concept works for him. However, after much head scratching and pondering, I am not quite willing to give up many of the standard traditions which we presently employee in our ranching.

Kit infers that he can raise a calf for $270 per year, and any money over and above that figure is profit. That may work in his Colorado country, but it doesn't here in the Nebraska Sandhills. For starters, the going rate for summer pasture in this area is $30 per pair (cow and calf) per month. Whether a rancher is putting out cattle by the month or taking them in, this is an "opportunity cost" that must be considered. As summer should be the cheapest time to run cattle, the other months are understandingly more expensive. By using the $30 per month figure and multiplying this by twelve months in a year, it looks like the very minimum cost per cow per year would be $360. This doesn't include any other expenses such as taxes, fencing and windmill upkeep, pickup repair, machinery costs, salt and mineral, etc.

The Pharo philosophy maintains that a 50,000 pound pot-load of 400 pound calves is worth more dollars than a 50,000 pound pot-load of 600 pound calves. This could be debateable. A small-framed calf weighing 400 pounds might be at the same stage of his life as is a moderate-framed calf at 600 pounds. There might me less growth potential on the small-framed calf than there is on the bigger-framed 600 pounder, and consequently not as efficient and as good an investment as the bigger calf.

As a rancher that puts out cattle by the month, I get more bang for the buck having a larger cow nursing a larger earlier calf. Pasture rates seem to be the same regardless of cattle size. It seems to me that a calf born on March 1st will weigh substantially more by October 15th than will a calf born on April 1st weighed on November 15th. This is considering that both examples are still sucking their mothers by the fall weaning dates. A May 1st calf weighed on December 15th would not even be in the ball-park. I think it has to do with the earlier calf being more adapted to grazing the summer grasses, and the fact that the pastures dry up and are of poorer quality in the fall.

In these days of fairly cheap interest on money borrowed from financial lending institutions, fast turn-over is not as important as at other times. In times of high interest, the quicker a person can retrieve a pay-check from their investment the better. In other words, a big calf for sale at weaning time can sell well and bring in optimum money. A May or June calf would have to be held over until the following year before there is enough weight to sell for many dollars. Consequently more interest owed is a negative on the bank statement.

My philosophy is to always keep my cattle "saleable." In the low-input system, there is much of the year when the cows are just barely getting by and are too thin to be of much value to a potential buyer. In the event of a bad winter, this thin condition could be life-threatening. I figure that if at any time my cows are worth top dollar to a potential buyer, they are also worth that to me.

Kit says that if a person makes ranching easier, there is more time to spend at the coffee shops (or maybe piddling with the "bull session" on the internet, lol!). Soon the coffee shops and the bull session will not be exciting enough, and the bored person will be finding thrills at a local casino. Next thing you know, the ranch will be gambled away, and it won't matter what size of a calf you raise. Maybe it is more desirable to stay busy in the first place, spend time in the calving barn, and try to raise the biggest meatiest highest quality calf you can, then sell it for the most money available. These are just some thoughts in trying to justify all the "mistakes" I've been making all my life. Cheers.

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Postby Northern Rancher » Wed Jun 08, 2005 3:45 pm

I did the big calf thing for ten or twelve years-in facxt our last set of Jan. calves averaged 798 the end of August the last ten or twelve years we';ve been calving in May-doing the 'kit' I'd never go back-I can't believe anybody would pay $1.00 U.S a day for grazing-I guess up here were dumb and thrifty. As far as marketing there are way more options with a 450 weight calf than the big early calf your pretty much stuck with -straight to the feedlot no matter what cost of gain is. We spread our marketings out throughout the year-some placed at weaning-some in spring-some off grass etc. I'd place our cattle somewhere size wise between yours and Kits I'm guessing as for thin cattle not being saleable-I have no trouble selling breeding stock in their working clothes-my REPEAT customers tell me they only look better after we get them home. I always thought the Sandhills would be a low input place to ranch but not with those kind of pasture rents.

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Postby SASH » Wed Jun 08, 2005 4:03 pm

Soapweed wrote:Here are my thoughts on the Kit Pharo method of low input ranching, written back on January 25, 2004.

Recently my wife and I had opportunity to attend a talk given by Kit Pharo. He suggests that "low input" ranching has more potential to be profitable than does ranching with higher costs of production. The talk was interesting and informative, and the concept works for him. However, after much head scratching and pondering, I am not quite willing to give up many of the standard traditions which we presently employee in our ranching.

Kit infers that he can raise a calf for $270 per year, and any money over and above that figure is profit. That may work in his Colorado country, but it doesn't here in the Nebraska Sandhills. For starters, the going rate for summer pasture in this area is $30 per pair (cow and calf) per month. Whether a rancher is putting out cattle by the month or taking them in, this is an "opportunity cost" that must be considered. As summer should be the cheapest time to run cattle, the other months are understandingly more expensive. By using the $30 per month figure and multiplying this by twelve months in a year, it looks like the very minimum cost per cow per year would be $360. This doesn't include any other expenses such as taxes, fencing and windmill upkeep, pickup repair, machinery costs, salt and mineral, etc.

The Pharo philosophy maintains that a 50,000 pound pot-load of 400 pound calves is worth more dollars than a 50,000 pound pot-load of 600 pound calves. This could be debateable. A small-framed calf weighing 400 pounds might be at the same stage of his life as is a moderate-framed calf at 600 pounds. There might me less growth potential on the small-framed calf than there is on the bigger-framed 600 pounder, and consequently not as efficient and as good an investment as the bigger calf.

As a rancher that puts out cattle by the month, I get more bang for the buck having a larger cow nursing a larger earlier calf. Pasture rates seem to be the same regardless of cattle size. It seems to me that a calf born on March 1st will weigh substantially more by October 15th than will a calf born on April 1st weighed on November 15th. This is considering that both examples are still sucking their mothers by the fall weaning dates. A May 1st calf weighed on December 15th would not even be in the ball-park. I think it has to do with the earlier calf being more adapted to grazing the summer grasses, and the fact that the pastures dry up and are of poorer quality in the fall.

In these days of fairly cheap interest on money borrowed from financial lending institutions, fast turn-over is not as important as at other times. In times of high interest, the quicker a person can retrieve a pay-check from their investment the better. In other words, a big calf for sale at weaning time can sell well and bring in optimum money. A May or June calf would have to be held over until the following year before there is enough weight to sell for many dollars. Consequently more interest owed is a negative on the bank statement.

My philosophy is to always keep my cattle "saleable." In the low-input system, there is much of the year when the cows are just barely getting by and are too thin to be of much value to a potential buyer. In the event of a bad winter, this thin condition could be life-threatening. I figure that if at any time my cows are worth top dollar to a potential buyer, they are also worth that to me.

Kit says that if a person makes ranching easier, there is more time to spend at the coffee shops (or maybe piddling with the "bull session" on the internet, lol!). Soon the coffee shops and the bull session will not be exciting enough, and the bored person will be finding thrills at a local casino. Next thing you know, the ranch will be gambled away, and it won't matter what size of a calf you raise. Maybe it is more desirable to stay busy in the first place, spend time in the calving barn, and try to raise the biggest meatiest highest quality calf you can, then sell it for the most money available. These are just some thoughts in trying to justify all the "mistakes" I've been making all my life. Cheers.


I think I disagree with you. However, I don't live in Nebraska or Colorado. Alot of producers up here have moved to March and April calving specifically because they aren't getting the growth in the winter that the calves can put on first thing in the spring. However, I don't know when spring starts in your area so it is possible that we may be saying exactly the same thing. The thing I know about Kit's bulls is that they have alot of depth and breadth and not alot of leg. I don't think there's much money in legs anyway. His bulls have alot of muscle and are supposedly easy keeping according to everything I hear. I think the important thing to bear in mind is 'net profit'. I know many up here who have huge cows that raise huge calves but I also know that those cows eat twice what mine do and overall, I would prefer to raise a larger number of smaller calves per acre because usually the price per pound on smaller calves is higher. I agree with you that saleability is important and by that I mean producing what the customer is looking for in your area, whether that be quality Brahmans, Continentals or British animals. I believe that over time as the North American baby boomers age that you will see a trend towards smaller cuts and therefore smaller framed cattle and I think Kit is on the right track if maybe just a bit ahead of his time. JMHO.
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Postby PPRM » Wed Jun 08, 2005 4:07 pm

ok, the stuck with sending a 50 lb calf to feedlot thing has me disagreeing. depends upon time of year. Where we are, calves don't get discounted at Tyson until they exceed 950 lbs on the rail.

I was talking to a guy about this yesterday. He was afraid of getting calves too big. Let me tell you, it takes a lot to excedd 950 lbs on the rail.
I am pushing cattle in excess of 900 pounds on cheap pasture right now before they hit the more expensive corn ration in the feedlot.

The too big thing I have found to be a myth with most cattle where we are at,

just my experience,

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Postby BRG » Wed Jun 08, 2005 4:59 pm

I think Kit has some good things going, however, I think he has gone to far the other way. I guess it is human nature to go to extremes. But some of the herdbulls that he is pushing, just won't work for the average rancher. When he talks about Frames score at 2, 3, and 4's, he is talking near dwafs. The feeders, packers, and retailers don't want that, and when they are our only customers, I think we have try to make what they want.

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Postby frenchie » Wed Jun 08, 2005 5:33 pm

It might pay to keep in mind that there is only 6 inches difference in height between a 3 frame score and a 6 frame score.

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Postby BRG » Wed Jun 08, 2005 5:59 pm

I understand that, but not every 5.5-6 frame cow is all leg. Ours gets most of it from a combination of leg and capacity. Unless you really look at them, you wouldn't know they are that type of frame because it is put together right.

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Postby Mike » Wed Jun 08, 2005 6:03 pm

PPRM wrote:ok, the stuck with sending a 50 lb calf to feedlot thing has me disagreeing. depends upon time of year. Where we are, calves don't get discounted at Tyson until they exceed 950 lbs on the rail.

I was talking to a guy about this yesterday. He was afraid of getting calves too big. Let me tell you, it takes a lot to excedd 950 lbs on the rail.
I am pushing cattle in excess of 900 pounds on cheap pasture right now before they hit the more expensive corn ration in the feedlot.

The too big thing I have found to be a myth with most cattle where we are at,

just my experience,

PPRM


Pat, I see it like you do. I would rather have a 949 lb. carcass. Usually those big calves convert feed better also. Look at a 950 lb. select YG1 over a 650 lb. choice YG 3, by gosh we DO sell by the pound. :wink:
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Postby BRG » Wed Jun 08, 2005 7:18 pm

Mike,
Glad to see that I am not the only one that thinks like this. You are exactly right about feed conversions and the comparisons on the yield grades.

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Postby Mike » Wed Jun 08, 2005 7:43 pm

BRG wrote:Mike,
Glad to see that I am not the only one that thinks like this. You are exactly right about feed conversions and the comparisons on the yield grades.


Somehow I get the impression that you have a "Continental" breed of cattle also. Glad to see everyone hasn't "Gone Flabby"!
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Postby frenchie » Wed Jun 08, 2005 7:47 pm

BRG wrote:I understand that, but not every 5.5-6 frame cow is all leg. Ours gets most of it from a combination of leg and capacity. Unless you really look at them, you wouldn't know they are that type of frame because it is put together right.


I understand that and I was,nt trying to imply they all were.....I was just pointing out cattle like Pharos are not waist buckle high cattle.


There are however lots of cattle that get their height mostly from legs.A lot of those beasts are pencil gutted as well.


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