This year looks to be an excellent time to be in the cow/calf business, assuming drought has not already disrupted your farm or ranch operation. With strong demand for beef around the world and a smaller supply of cattle than we have seen in a few years, prices for calves have been growing over the past several months. Better prices mean potential high profits if you can quickly get your feeder cattle to the finishing stage and start on the next group. Improving efficiency on-farm has been a mantra for years to enhance profitability, as well as help reduce the carbon footprint of our cattle industry.
Let’s fast forward in time to July. Imagine it is a comfortable, sunny summer day. Rancher A goes out to check his cows on pasture. Calves are looking good, cows are scattered out grazing and the bulls he turned out last week are covering the cows as needed. Rancher B goes out to the pasture to find his cattle crowded up trying to find shade, with his bulls under the lone tree on the far side of the pasture. Tails are swinging, heads and ears are moving constantly to bat at the flies. Calves look a little stressed and it appears he will need to bring a few in to treat for signs of pinkeye. Which Rancher would you prefer to be?