After attending the annual Cattle Fax Outlook Session, there is no mistake that we are back in a 10-year beef cattle cycle. Most importantly, there are a few years still ahead of declining profitability in the cow-calf sector. There will be years ahead that Low Return Producers could lose money on their cow herd, while High Return Producers will likely still be above water.
Many of you with spring calving herds, have probably already weaned this year’s calves, or, you are about to. Profit margins in the cow calf business have become quite slim this year. It has been said that most anyone could make money in the cow-calf business in 2014. This year, we will need a sharp pencil to make a good profit, and next year will likely be the same.
I once heard a salesman that fully understood the benefits of using CRYSTALYX® Brigade® on weaned, stressed calves, say, “There are only two things wrong with Brigade®… #1. It does not cost enough and. #2. It is too easy. I’ll likely never forget that statement, as it has a lot of truth in it, and it provides insight in to human nature. Many times we have an internal, or gut feeling that if something is easy – then it may not be the best solution. Same goes for the cost of something; generally, the more you spend the better product or response you get.
What is the replacement rate in your beef herd? I think we all know that a lower replacement rate will be more cost effective than a higher one, as we all know raising or buying replacement heifers is a major cost in maintaining a cow herd. If you can keep more of your cows in your herd longer, your replacement rate will be lower. But what is the cost advantage to lowering the replacement rate, and how do we accomplish this?
For many spring calving herds, we are now in the middle of the breeding season. Hopefully you have all been using a good summer mineral, quite possibly with fly control in it. But this is no time to relax – what should we be thinking about next?
With bulls going into breeding pastures every day now, cattlemen easily understand the impact of a good conception rates on their bottom line. Another measure that can directly affect ranch profitability, is calving distribution.
As I drive to and from work this week, I have begun to see a green tint in the road ditches and in the draws of pastures. Here in western South Dakota, we have already had a number of days in the 50’s and 60’s and even a few over 70 degrees. While we can sure use more moisture, there is enough in the ground to start some cool season grasses. Several long range forecasts have predicted that the upper plains should see a good deal of moisture in March. Either way, grass tetany season is about to start…
Building off of Jon Albro’s blog from last week, I too had some interesting observations from the NCBA Cattleman’s College. One Researcher provided some information on the intake variation of self-fed, as well as hand-fed supplements. Most notably it was stated that the percent of non-consumers of hand-fed supplements was probably around 5%.
I was riding through Montana last week with a sales associate, and one of his comments regarding the year we have been having was, “What a great winter for feeding CRYSTALYX®!” I have heard this comment many times over the years when we have had a milder fall/winter.
Calf prices seem to be in a freefall here lately. If we look at what CattleFax has for their summary of five and six-weight calves this week compared to last year, we see a fifty dollar per CWT decline, with 15 dollars in the last week. Certainly the market is adjusting to all the red ink in the feeding industry.