Category: Production

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Ranching from Scratch

baking

Can’t be done. At least that is what conventional wisdom says. I’d agree that it can’t be done, if you follow the rules of traditional ranching – running cows the way everyone else does and owning everything. If you are willing to break some rules and challenge conventional wisdom maybe you can join the amazing […]

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Beauty in Simplicity

cow flowers

We tend to overcomplicate things. A simple business that does a few things well and at scale, is a thing of beauty! It is easy to get caught in the trap of doing lots of small things. After all, if someone is making money on the calves I sell, maybe I should background them myself? […]

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Are You A Superhero?

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, it’s an environmental superhero!  If you are using cell grazing you are an environmental superhero. Of course, no one has to know that, while saving the planet, you are also making your own ranch more productive and profitable.  Cell graziers are environmental superheroes because they stop overgrazing by […]

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4 Strategies to Improve Gross Margin per Unit

As a student in my very first Ranching For Profit School I was told to make sure I was shooting at the right target before taking aim. That’s common sense. But it’s not commonly practiced.  Livestock producers are great marksmen, but they are often shooting at the wrong target. The target most producers aim at […]

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Whistling Again

We use key performance indicators to assess the health of a business. Some evaluate economic and financial health. Others measure labor productivity. Still others measure the health of the ecosystem. Last week I added a new key performance indicator for measuring business success to my list. I spent an evening with Craig and Connie French […]

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Sustainability: What’s In A Name?

Maybe it’s just semantics, but I think the words we choose are important. 40 years ago, when I was in college, “sustainable agriculture” was a revolutionary concept. Forward-thinking universities created Sustainable Agriculture Departments. Most farm and ranch kids enrolled in the Animal Science or Crop Science programs while the hippies enrolled in Sustainable Agriculture. But […]

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How Much Can You Afford To Spend On Feed?

A midwestern University specialist recently wrote a column for a leading beef industry magazine claiming that winter feeding is the biggest expense in most cow/calf enterprises. That may be true in most cow/calf enterprises, but I doubt it’s true for any of the most profitable cow/calf enterprises. The specialist offered suggestions to “reduce feed costs […]

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4 Reasons Why Increasing Weaning Weights May Not Increase Profit

I gotta stop reading this stuff. A recent article in a self-proclaimed “progressive” magazine claimed that July deworming was an often-overlooked opportunity to increase weaning weight and therefore profit.   According to the article, deworming can increase weaning weights by at least 30 pounds at a cost of $7.85 per cow/calf pair. With a market […]

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5 Keys to Quality Cattle

A popular industry magazine found its way to my desk this week. An article that described five essential “wisdoms” for producing quality cattle piqued my curiosity. According to the author, the first key is “Be fanatic about animal health.” Key number two is “Pay the extra money for a good bull and build a reputation for […]

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Game Changer?

Income – costs = profit, right? The answer is “sort of.” It’s a little more complicated than that because we need to adjust for inventory changes, consider non-cash costs like depreciation and non-cash income like retained heifer calves. But over the long haul, for the most part, income – costs = profit. The obvious conclusion […]

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