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Does Anyone Still Move Cattle South for the Winter?

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IndianaOutdoorsman

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Hello, first time posting.

Does anyone still move their cattle to a further south location in the winter? We have about 100 head, and run them on about 80 acres separated into 4 enclosures that we rotate through. Even so, their hooves really tear up the ground in the winter months. Additionally, we have to feed regularly to keep their weight up in the cold.

My father-in-law who runs the day to day operations has considered moving south for the winters, and we are considering purchasing pasture in Alabama. Would it be a significant advantage if he moved the herd south each winter and stayed with them there? We already have the equipment needed to move them, but are weighing the pros/cons of moving the herd each winter to get them to a warmer climate.

Would love some thoughts and input. Thanks in advance!
 

leanin' H

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A lot of cattle out west move down for the winter. But that only means losing elevation from the mnts out onto the desert. Crossing state lines can be a challenge with different laws on bangs testing, brand inspections, etc. Canadian and Montana cattle was well as the Dakotas all face tough winter weather. If you have the feed the expense to move them may outweigh your benefits. But if there is more feed south and it pencils out then good luck.
 

Mountain Cowgirl

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With the price of fuel and all the things Leanin pointed out, I would say a herd reduction might be more practical or confine feeding to just one 20 acre pasture and just spread and disc in the wasted hay and manure each spring. We do have one rancher here that trucks their cattle about 60 miles south for the spring, summer, and early fall and then bring them back up for fall pasture and winter feeding. It is an easy all-in-state trip. South to the mountain allotments for spring, summer, and early fall, and north for the winter as this area gets little snow and that late fall and winter pasture is in prime condition due to being ungrazed for several months. They will usually get a couple of cuttings of grass-clover hay from it and each spring it is disc, fertilized, and lightly reseeded.
 
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webfoot

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I worked for a ranchers years ago in Washington who hauled his cows from up near the Canadian border down to the Tri cities area every winter. That is probably a 200/300 mile haul. He did it for two reasons. The climate was much milder. Also he didn't raise much hay. So he would have to haul feed. When you are feeding 2 tons of hay during the winter it is cheaper to haul the cow to the feed than the feed to the cows.
I know of another ranch that does a similar thing today. They are literally on the border north of Colville and they winter on the Washington side of the Columbia by Umatilla.
Cows here spend their summers up around 5,000/6,000 feet. They get driven down to the valley which is around 2,700 feet. Again how far would you be hauling? State lines and rules? How much feed would you be saving? Certainly more questions than answers.
 

IndianaOutdoorsman

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Thanks for the input everyone.

We would be moving them from west central Indiana to northern Alabama. We would cross a couple state lines, which would require jumping through some hoops as a couple people mentioned. It would be 400-500 miles, and would take 4 trips to move the herd. Thinking out loud here, $8000 for fuel for 4 round trips.
It would allow us to return our hayfields to row crop, which would be about 75 acres. We would gain on farming those acres lets say $20K. So it's a 12K gain each year before fees/permits and money put into the land down there to prep for cattle.

Seems like it could be marginally worth it, but would it actually be a better environment for the cattle to winter in Alabama vs extra feed in Indiana?
 

Faster horses

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If you plan to go to Alabama and check on them, and I would STRONGLY advise doing so, then you
need to figure that into your cost.
I could tell you horror stories from producers who sent their cattle a far distance away and didn't go
check on them. One instance involved a registered Red Angus breeder that we knew personally; he sent his cattle to a ranch out of state to winter and it wasn't nearly as far away as you are talking. The ranch that was to winter and calve the cattle, had a great hired man. When the owners went to check, everything was hunky-dory.
Until it wasn't.
They were so sure the cattle were in good hands, they no longer checked on them. These were registered Red Angus cows that the owners had put a lot of effort into. When they finally went
back to see how the cows were, they found a wreck. The good hired man had left. The cows were on a blowed out ridge, trying to calve there. They were pencil thin. All this was bad enough, but the owners had to get an attorney to get their cattle back. It took awhile to do that, and during that time the cows were fed straw. That was it, just straw. Sickening.

Be very careful.
 

jodywy

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Eaiser to move southern cattle north in the summer. Like Star Valley ranch (Stewart Cattle Co.) the winter around Hilo NV, Summer in Star Valley Wy/Id, Crow creek Id and over around Wayan Id.
 

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