I read Thoughts and Advice From an Old Cattleman while sitting in a hotel in Florida last week…along with other reading. I thought I would share some of my thoughts, but I’ll keep my advice to myself…short of this one thing: Get this book.
The author details a plan for moving cattle through your pastures on a regular basis, selling and then immediately buying again. If the market is down, you’ll buy immediately. If the market is up, you’ll have to pay more for better animals but still, buy immediately. Different classes of animals do better at different times. He goes into long detail about feeding, worming, fly killer…all things we don’t do but also talks about getting the most bang for your buck on grass…using low-cost grass to grow calves up to feeder size.
A recurring theme in the reading I have done lately is the disassociation of ranching and tractor ownership. Gordon goes so far as to say you are better off with 4 ex-wives than with 4 John Deere’s.
Again, I highly recommend this book. I found it to be very encouraging that a 70+ year old man runs 1,800 head of calves across 3,000 acres (with zero debt!) and humorously complains that he only has enough work to keep him busy for 3-4 hours each day. Wow. Poison aside, he’s doing things right.
I am now rethinking everything we have on the farm. Iron pile? Buildings? Corrals? Fencing? Ponds? Chickens? Cattle? Which of these things are increasing in value? Can I make it with a cow/calf operation or should I consider exclusively running or at least adding stocker calves? How can I put my debts behind me?