Where Did All These Cows Come From?

I am not an investment professional. I tried trading stocks some years ago. I’ll summarize by saying hasty speculation has a way of bringing poverty.

But steady plodding leads to prosperity. We have a plan that includes cows, time and work. Lots of cows. Lots of time. Lots and lots of work. There are two paths from zero cows to lots of cows. The first, and most obvious, is to put together a pile of money and go buy lots of cows. Done. Problem solved. The second, and more understandable to someone of limited means (me) is to buy a couple of cows and find out what you don’t know before you get too deep. We started by upgrading from milk goats to milk cows…by buying open heifers.


Then, each year, we allocate a little money to buy a few more heifers to speed up the natural increase from calving.


If cow prices are high you buy fewer animals. Low prices, more heifers. Before you know it, the herd has grown to the point you have to zoom out to catch them all in one picture.


Each year the number increases. Each year we add to our accumulated knowledge. We lost a calf for the first time this year. It hurt. It didn’t hurt in the pocketbook as much as it hurt in the heart. Still does. But we learned that lesson by losing one bull calf instead of losing 50.

So that’s where it is. Every year we grow. Soon we will begin to cull the non-performers in earnest. Soon we will have beef to sell to customers. Soon we will have surplus heifers of our own. We have to get rid of cattle that are late to reach sexual maturity (tall ones), get rid of cattle that produce too much milk (won’t breed back), get rid of cattle that stay shaggy all summer, get rid of cattle that won’t produce on grass alone. Cull, cull, cull. Not everybody can make the team. So we add heifers as often as we can. Heifers are an unknown quantity but cost half as much as cows. For the same money we double our genetic dice roll.


What is 57 going to become? What about 59? What about 81? What about the three other heifers that were born here this year? Dunno. They will tell us in a couple of years.

As time passes our herd will become increasingly adapted to our farm and to our management. A little at a time. The end result of years spent planning, thinking and being patient. Thinking. Planning. Looking at the cows. Monitoring the fertility. Making slight adjustments to genetics, slight adjustments to management, making slight adjustments to fertility programs. But mostly just watching.

How does that compare to any other investment? Is it an investment? Our farm provides a lot of our entertainment but did we buy an amusement park? Did we buy a trust fund? Or are we building a business through steady plodding? I hope it is the latter option.

2 thoughts on “Where Did All These Cows Come From?

    • When they are still under 30 months we ship them for beef to our customers. I need to do a blood test on the herd and ship at least one ASAP.

      Older than that? I guess we’ll just take them to the sale barn or advertise them on CL. Just have to be honest about why they didn’t make the team. Someone who will grain them may find they are just fine. It may just be the grass, the type of grass, the management…who knows.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s