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Shoo Fly

Every year there are numerous articles about fly control. All of them revolve around using some kind of gimmick for control. Now it’s no mystery why these freebee publications will only write about gimmicks that siphon money out of the pockets of cattle producers. It helps them sell advertising space. They probably also don’t realize there is another way: well managed grazing

stormcattle

I know there are people that read this and want me to provide research to back my claims. I don’t care for scientific research, no matter who conducted it. Here is why, science only tells us how we should act if we want to attain definite ends. So for that research to worth a hoot my cattle, the flies, the weather, and other factors in nature must all act a certain way. Ha! Good luck with that.

Here is what happened for me with better managed grazing. I started putting my cattle into groups of 200 head or more. I use poly wire to split the pasture into smaller grazing cells, and rotate daily to every third day. Cell size will vary based on terrain and water. I rent several different pastures, that are only a few miles apart. I will rotate around one then load the cattle up and haul them to the next pasture, then rotate around that one. (I haul them because I have to cross two major highways, and am surrounded by irrigated corn with no fences around it and I have no help)

One day when I was hauling cattle from one pasture to the next, I had an extension researcher riding along with me. He did the typical routine of rolling up the window every time I loaded and unloaded. He finally noticed that I was not doing the same, and he remarked that there were not any flies getting into the truck. We then looked at the cattle and there were little to no flies on them!

At first we were only interested in how my new grazing system would affect my grass, now we were both interested in following up on how it would affect my cattle and flies. For the next month I had the same results, until I rotated up against the perimeter fence and the neighbor’s cattle bunched up next to mine. Then I had flies, a lot of them. I also ended up with their bull too, I was running stocker heifers.

After loading the cattle up and then moving to the next pasture I still had the flies for a while. This pasture has no neighboring cattle. I rotated as I needed to and eventually the fly load lessened. I think this is because my grazing system breaks the fly cycle. In the short amount of time it takes for a fly to lay an egg and for that egg to become a fly my cattle are gone away from that area.

I have only done this for two years, and have noticed a big difference in fly control. I mentioned the neighbor’s bull for a reason. Long story short they ended up paying for a preg check on my cattle. That got expensive for them in a hurry. The following year, they didn’t turn their cattle out into that pasture until I rotated away from the perimeter fence. That year I didn’t end up with their flies or their bull. To me that one variable right there is why science doesn’t mean much out here. It proves how other people’s sloppiness can affect your plan.

We all know that parasites can affect cattle performance and their behavior, so I don’t feel I need to get into that, to keep this short as possible. I do feel that I should do some cost comparisons.

For my grazing system I had to invest in a fence charger, rolls of poly wire, pigtail posts, a water tank, valve, and portable water line. I bought extra poly wires and posts so I could build fence several cells ahead when I have time, so all I have to do is move the cattle which only takes a little while. My total cost for all this was around $5000. That is a lot of money. Thing is I started this program to help improve the pastures, and it has. This is a small investment when compared to that. Also at the end of the year I still have all that equipment.

hose

If I were to spray my cattle for flies it would cost me $400 for a concentrated solution, that they recommend I mix with water and diesel fuel. The fuel would cost an additional $36. Its by far the cheapest solution. There is labor involved to gather all your cattle in, unless you use a rubber. Here’s the rub for me. Why do you want soak your cattle in a little bit of poison over and over? Second, these products will also kill the good bugs that are essential for a healthy pasture. Not to mention the pests you are trying to get rid of will come back before the beneficial bugs do. How do you assign a cost to that? I am not sure but I can assure you it would be high.

Fly tags would cost me almost $2000. I have used fly tags in the past and they are just crap. In fact when I buy my grass calves, if they already have fly tags in their ears (which is the wrong time to even have them in, leading to the flies building a resistance to them) I cut them out, even though they are brand new.

Then there is using flow through control in your mineral. I’ve tried this and it didn’t make a whole lot of difference. Also I have never gotten a straight answer on how it affects dung beetles. That literally could be a million dollar question that I have not yet got an answer to. If I were to add Altosid IGR to my mineral it would cost me an additional $1600. If I used it in tubs for 60 days it would cost me and additional $1900. (cost difference in tubs with compared to without, so you would also need to add in the cost of the tub/mineral itself) Then begs the question of what do you do with the empty tubs. Around here no one takes them if they are plastic. I can’t help but notice that people around here just leave their empty tubs accumulate in their pastures. Nice uh?

Now for Vet Gun. If I were to purchase this thing it would cost me $1250. That includes CO2 cartridges, gun, and the balls. If I were to go out and start shooting a couple hundred head with this how do you suppose it’s gunna end? If I were to walk into a crowd of people and start shooting them with a paintball gun is the crowd just going to stand there? Heck no! Plus what if I miss and hit one in the eye? To me this just looks like it don’t end well.

Then there are predator wasps. I have a little experience with these guys. I have noticed a little affect with them and the cattle seem to hang around the area where the wasps were. I plan to experiment with them more in the future

wasp

Now I didn’t start my grazing system to control flies. I did it so I could look at all my cattle in just a couple hours (I couldn’t do that when I had 50 here 200 there 20 in another pasture and so on. There was too much travel time between pastures). I did it to improve soil and grass, and cut down on less desirable species, while lightening my work load. Using my system I grow more grass. Assuming I only grow a mere 150# an acre more grass, and it’s valued at $60 a ton, there is my $5000 initial investment for water line, tank, posts and poly wire in just the first year! And just a reminder, I still own these things. With the other fly controls, you spend money, use the product and it’s gone. You also are not improving rangeland, or wildlife habitat.

All of these controls take time/labor except the mineral. All of these have a negative impact except the controlled grazing and the wasps. To me it comes down to what kind of person you are. Are you really a steward of the land or not. Are you really a stockman or not. It comes down to your work ethic, and managerial skills.

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Agproud Q3 Passion

Question 3 of the Goodman 88

What are you passionate about?

That would be so easy for anyone to figure out if they followed me for a day. The words that follow will not do justice to how I feel, but anyone who is passionate about something understands that. My top two, are my girls (wife and daughter), and cattle.

I have done many blogs on the cattle biz, and have mentioned my girls in a few also. So I think my writing reflects the two things I’m passionate about.

I’m going to shift gears here for the time being. This question, gives me an opportunity to respond to another question I’ve been asked lately, and tie them both together. Some people have been wondering why I decided to start writing again.

Here’s the reason. My wife is in Rotary, and every week they have a speaker come address the group. Around the first of the year, one member of Rotary who works at the local hospital had one of the docs come give a speech. This doc is more of an activist, that’s what she most recognized for in the community, and she abuses her title as doc to give herself credibility.

The speech was centered around, how animal proteins are bad for human health. She had many baseless points bashing animal agriculture, which my wife shared with me. I won’t list them all here, but one is worth a mention. She pointed to other countries and how agriculture there is shifting away from livestock production. She had a catchy phrase “Dairies for berries”, which she used as she was telling the group how Finland got rid of its dairy farms and converted them to berry farms. I used Google to look for ag jobs in Finland, and what do you know, dairy was at the top of the list for hiring workers. I did another search on dairy numbers. It turns out they do have fewer dairies, but they have just as many cows. Just like here in the US, the farms have gotten bigger. This activist twisted the facts.

This kind of B.S. is nothing new, and really doesn’t rattle my cage much. Here is what did. One of the people in the group (not my wife) reminded her that there is a lot of animal ag in our county, and asked her what she thinks all the area farmers should do instead of raising livestock. The response was, that we will just have to adapt. Times are changing and we’ll just have to change with them or get out. Leaving the impression that she just doesn’t care, and that it’s not her problem

As bad as I’d like to give my two cents on that response, I won’t do it at this time. That would take this post down another rabbit hole and make it too long.

I’m used to seeing things on the internet from groups that want to put an end to our industry, but this was a first for having it happen right here at home in real life. That did it. That was all it took to get my fingers back on the key board. Raising cattle is all I’ve ever wanted to do since I was a little kid. There are many generations of farmers in my family tree, dating all the way back to the 1400’s! I want my daughter to be able to make the choice to farm or do something else. That activist took a big swipe at two things I’m passionate about.

As part of pursuing my passion I am going to write about it. I am going to do blogs that will shake things up a bit. For example, I think the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program needs an upgrade. I am going to do more posts on how I use agriculture as a, hands on classroom for my daughter. I’m going to do posts that will educate the general public about the cattle biz, like the one I did on “slaughter trucks”. And I’m going to talk to the media, for the last several years I have refused to do any interviews.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Slaughter Trucks

A year and a half ago we were on vacation when I noticed a bunch of gooseneck trailers all turning the same direction at an intersection. I told my wife to follow them and they lead us to the local salebarn and it was auction day. My wife waited in the café while me and my daughter, who was three at the time, went out back to view the cattle. We walked back across the parking lot to the café, and my daughter asked me “daddy, where are all the Peterbilt’s?” I told her that calvies don’t ride to town in Peterbilts in that part of the country. “Well, if we buy some calvies today we will need a Peterbilt to get them home.” Was her reply

Everyone calls livestock haulers a different name. Some common ones are, Bull hauler, cow mobile, punch hole, bull rack, pot, and evidently as we saw around Christmas time slaughter truck

First lets make one thing clear, slaughter does not take place on these trucks, just in case there is someone gullible enough to think that. There is no refrigeration to cool the meat which would be essential for the slaughter process. Second, livestock have to walk off that trailer in order to be sold. If an animal can not walk off that trailer under its own power, by law, it can’t enter the food supply.

There will be that one fateful day in every critter’s life when it will take that ride to a packing facility. Most of the hauling these trucks do, does not end at a packer’s door.

Most of the hauling that is done in the cattle biz is transporting the cattle to different phases of production.
On my operation in particular, these trucks haul cattle to my place from an auction where I purchased the cattle. Some of the cattle will stay in the home pens and some go out to pasture for the growing phase. I will sometimes hire a big truck to haul them to pasture for me. It would take me ten or more trips with my pickup and a big truck can do it in two. This gets it done quickly and greatly reduces the stress on the cattle, since they don’t need to be sorted off into small bunches all day long while I haul them.

When I decide its time I will load these cattle onto a Pot again and have them shipped to an auction where they will be sold, and then loaded again to go to a feed lot.

Think about this. These cattle have been hauled several times to different locations and there has been nothing but growth and promotion of life.

Some people use these trucks just to haul cattle out to summer pasture and back home in the late fall.

The trailers have many different features, all designed for the comfort of the livestock, convenience for the driver, and safety.
Since its winter time I’ll start with the panels the drivers add to the side of the trailer. These panels are made of plastic and are corrugated like card board. They simply slide into holders on the side of the trailer that hold them in place. This keeps the air warm inside the trailer. Their body heat warms it up. Even when it well below freezing, you will have to take your coat off once the trailer is half loaded. They are that effective! The driver will stop and check on the stock from time to time, and if need be he can add more panels to make it warmer, or if he determines they are getting to hot he can remove some panels to regulate the temperature better, and make it more comfortable for the stock.

This load came
 in at sunrise on a cold morning.  The driver used panels to insulate the trailer and keep the cattle warm

This load came in at sunrise on a cold morning. The driver used panels to insulate the trailer and keep the cattle warm


The truck and trailer has an air ride suspension, which makes the ride smooth and comfortable. To help make the rid more comfortable the driver will avoid braking hard. Show the animals some respect and don’t cut off a livestock truck, okay.

Drivers will often times put down some wood shavings or saw dust before loading. This does two things. One it reduces the noise of the animal’s hooves on the aluminum floor, and second, it helps to absorb moisture. This prevents the floor from getting slick, so animals don’t fall down. A good driver can feel it when an animal lays down, and he will stop and get the animal back up, so other animals can’t step on it and cause injury.

There are ramps on these trailers to get the animals into the different compartments. The guys that haul most of my stock have ordered these ramps to be a little longer. These longer ramps are less steep, which is easier for the stock to get up and down. There is also funnel gates inside the trailer to guide the animals where to go.

Each compartment has a gate to close it off. Some of the bigger compartments have gates in them to make them smaller. This allows stock to be kept separate for ownership, or to keep bigger animals separate from smaller ones. This prevents the big ones from injuring the small ones. All these gates have a slam latch. What that is, is a latch that automatically locks when the gate is slammed against it. This is for safety, so an animal can’t hit the gate and cause it to come back and hit the driver. Think about it, if a 1400# steer hits that gate hard it can seriously injure the driver. I’ve even seen trailers where there is a release latch on the outside of the trailer so the driver never has to get in to open them.

Some trailers have roof hatches. They will open these, to help let the hot air escape out the top of the trailer. Again this is for the comfort of the animals. On chilly mornings I have seen steam coming out the top of those roof hatches. By allowing the steam to escape it won’t settle on the animals, which may cause them to get a chill later, if they get soaking wet and then cold.

One outfit that hauls most of my cattle, has sprinklers on their trailers. They use these mostly for pigs. On a really hot day they can hook a hose up to the sprinkler and cool down the inside of the trailer. If you know pigs you can bet they will find the sprinkler and get a drink while they wait. These guys have pulled over and hooked up a hose to cool down loads of stock. Sometimes they do it while waiting in line at a packing facility. Think of that. The pigs are waiting to be unloaded at a packer, and the driver is still doing all he can to make them comfortable, even in the last hour.

I recently saw a trailer that had an airline going inside the axels. Then it goes to the rim so the driver can pump air into the tires. This is convenient for the driver and is a safety feature for him, other drivers on the road and the livestock being transported.

I am now at 1200 words and I have not even written of the safety features that are in place for the drivers protection. When you stop and think of all the thought that has gone into the design of these trailers from a safety and convenience standpoint it seems silly to call them slaughter trucks.
As one final thought, I have seen the videos the animal rights groups have put out. Most people get distracted with the point of the video, and never really look at what they are watching. Most of those trucks are old models, and the people are often times wearing clothes form the sixties or seventies. Both the trucking industry and livestock industry have made huge strides since that time period

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Pitfalls of Good Stockmanship

I can’t ever stress enough the importance of great stockmanship. Over time as I have improved my skills I have noticed there are a few pitfalls

People will get mad. I was helping a registered cattle breeder prepare for his bull sale. He wanted to catch a special cow to have on display for customers to look at while they were selecting the bulls they wanted to bid on. A group of us consisting of myself, the owner, two hired hands and his daughter set out to gather in this cow. I evaluated the circumstance I was in. Most were athletic and in great shape. Since he thought he needed all of us to get this cow I just knew this was going to be a track meet. I was right. When they finally gave up and decided to head in for lunch I slipped behind them all to get the cow. No one noticed I did this since they were too busy complaining about her and hatching a plan to catch her after lunch. They were all eating when I came in the house. When asked what took me so long to get there I informed them that I got the cow in. Man, the boss and his daughter were upset. My actions were not mean to one up them, but it appeared to be taken that way

You will do things by yourself. When people figure out that you are capable of doing it yourself, or that you can do it better by yourself they will just stand back. I have one driver who does not get out of his truck anymore when he comes to load
You will gain weight, and get out of shape. Before I met Bud and Eunice Williams and learned from them, I used to have problems getting cattle to go where I wanted them too. This lead to me running and getting a lot of exercise. I no longer get all that exercise and started to put on a few pounds. I now have to commit myself to using a treadmill that I strategically placed in front of the TV so I can watch Netflix

Bud Williams and I

Bud Williams and I

Your vet will suffer. After improving my stockmanship skills, I have fewer pulls. Fewer pulls means I use less antibiotics. This reduced my vet bill. I wonder if I should be concerned, he has three kids to support after all.

You lose bragging rights. People who do not have good stockmanship skills get hurt. They are always telling some story of getting run over or kicked. Some even love to show you their “badge of honor”. With good skills you will not have a cast or bruises to show off.

People will think you are lazy. When you own more cattle than the other guy and he notices you take your little girl fishing on a regular basis, he begins to think you are lazy and do not do much work. He does not realize fast is slow, and slow is fast. I work my cattle slow. That is why I have time to go fishing.

It’s boring. My daughter does not have much interest in riding along to rotate pastures. She is 4 and thinks we need to drive the 4-wheeler fast. It’s boring to just sit there on the wheeler only applying pressure on occasion. For her rolling up poly wire is more fun

It makes you abnormal. Cattle will get out. When they do I guess you are supposed to panic, get mad, and get in a big hurry to get them back in. My neighbor called one morning to tell me I had one out. He called back again in about 20 minutes, because I had not shown up yet and he wanted to make sure I was coming. When he called I was walking up the road with a cigar and a cup of coffee. I didn’t want to spill by being in too much of a hurry

You’re backwards. This one comes from my good friend JG. For years his family did things the same way and had the same problems. He realized the problem was how they were going about moving the cattle. He tried it a different way and it worked. No one else cared that it worked, and saved time and energy, they were only focused on the fact he was doing it differently.

People think you lie. Myself and others that I know who learned from Bud and Eunice, or Dr. Tom Noffsinger, buy a lot of long haul high risk cattle. We do not have near the problems most people would expect. One friend even went more than a year without having one die. Since most people have difficulty weaning their home raised calves without some kind of problem, and pull rates in a big feedlot can range over 40% they conclude you are lying when you say that your pull rate is around 3% to 8%.

To learn more visit these websites

Stockmanship.com Stockmanship.com

Hand in Hand Livestock Solutions Hand in Hand Livestock Solutions

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Own Up to It

I came home one night, when I was in high school, and went straight to my room. My mom for some reason came to check on me.
“Have you been drinking?” she asked
“No” I mumbled
“Look at me” She commanded
“I just don’t feel good. I need to sleep”
“Look at me” She commanded again
I rolled over, and sat up. My eyes rolled back in my head and I got sick.
The next day my parents were nice and let me skip church and a family dinner, to sleep it off.
The next Monday at school, my peers gave me a hard time about how hung over I must have been. I denied it. I never admitted to my parents that I was drinking. Everybody knew I drank way too much and lived to survive one of the worst hangovers I’ve ever had.

I never owned up to it. Just took the consequences and moved on

Many cow/calf operators exhibit the same behavior. They suffer the consequences of their actions, move on and repeat them year after year. They never own up to the fact the problems they face year after year are a direct result of their management decisions.

I’m talking about winter calving specifically

Last year there was the story circulating around social media, about the producer who saved his calf from certain death by jumping into the hot tub with him, to save it from hypothermia. Many haled this as proof cattle producers will go to any lengths for the wellbeing of their stock.
If a producer really cares for his stock he will never put them into a potential situation that may cause them harm.

To clear up that statement, let me tell you this story. Last year after the hot tub story circulated, I was in a local salebarn. A couple was there and the husband half was bragging how hard they worked to save a calf from hypothermia. The wife didn’t share his enthusiasm. They had the calf in the bath tub, then in the kitchen for a while. I imagine her lack of enthusiasm was because she had livestock in her house, and it created a livestock kind of mess, and her heroic hubby didn’t help clean up. I went into the office where I know an ABS rep has some calendars stashed. I handed her one of those calendars. I showed her how each day on the calendar shows that if your cow is bred on that day it tells you approximately the day you may expect her to calve. I whispered to her “You can turn your bulls out later, and skip all this mess”. She looked at me like it had never dawned on her before.

During the conventional calving season, the cow/calf guys get up in the middle of the afternoon and leave the salebarn, to go home and check cows. You never know when you will have to intervene, in what should be a natural process, to save a calf. This costs the salebarn money, because they have to turn the heat on when all the hot air these guys expel leaves. What hot air? I can refute any talking point they may have to defend calving in winter. I used to calve in winter and made the change. I used to believe all the same things many of those who will defend it do.

I used to chew Copenhagen. I had a bad habit. One day I had to stop baling hay to run to town because I was out, and couldn’t stand it any longer. A few months later I decided it was stupid to let it have a hold on me like that and just quit. It was extremely hard. Many of you have let your cows do the same thing to you. Or it may be peer pressure from some fool. Either way if you refuse to examine a change you are trapped

I used to follow Ann Barnhardt’s blog back when it was mostly about cattle markets. She had a link to Pharo Cattle Co. I clicked every link on her page, so this was the first time I was exposed to Kit and his ideas. This was the first time I was exposed to the idea of calving in synch with nature. I had all the same ideas many of you winter calvers do and I thought someone really ought to clue this fool in. Funny thing is, ten years later after I changed to calving 1/3 of the year later, at grass time, Kit got smarter. To be clear Kit didn’t change, I did.

Now I’ve stated I can refute any talking point there is. There is one that never comes up. I stated earlier in this post that you are trapped. These talking points you so weakly defend are only in your head. You are a prisoner of your own mind. The hardest thing I had to overcome when changing my calving dates was to let go of the old ideas. Learning the new way was easy.

I can post another blog later if there is a demand for it to refute the common points to defending winter calving. I will give you this to ponder in the mean time. I posted last week that it was 20 below here. Several of my neighbors are calving. I drove by a couple of them. There were dead calves at each place. Imagine if you were wearing summer clothing and were soaking wet after coming out of a room that was 102 degrees. That is exactly what the baby calf experienced. It took only a matter of minutes for that little guy to freeze to the ground. It took a little longer for death to overtake him due to the cold. Like I said if you really cared you would not put your stock in that kind of position.

I know my neighbors worked their asses off during the night. They got cattle into their barns, and got the calves dry and started. They had to kick them out into a pen to make room for another cow in the barn. They bedded the new pairs well. Problem iscattle will bunch up and the calf they worked so hard to save may stepped on by a cow. If it steps on them in the wrong place the calf will be killed.

I know the heart break this causes. You and your stock do not need to go through this. I do know someone who is thrilled. I have not seen a coyote for over a week. I assume they must be eating well, and are sticking close to their new food source, those dead calves.

To wrap it up, I buy cattle year round of varying weights. I know there will always be a supply of cattle for me to bid on. What you may not realize, since you left the auction early to go home and cuddle your cows, is the discounts I get. When you get your check in the mail from the salebarn, you will notice that several of your good calves sold for considerably less. When your nice group of calves walked into the sale ring a guy like me will motion to the auctioneer to hold 3 for example. They sell the group then ask which three I want sorted off. I will point out the two with the froze off ears and the one with the froze off tail. I will then counter, that I will take the whole group and skip sorting if they just adjust the price on them. The discount on those three sure helps cheapen up the group. I know that you’re stunned and upset when you see the price on those three got adjusted. I know you think it’s just a dumb set of buyers who do not know quality. Maybe you’re right. I do not feel sorry for you that you worked so hard to keep them alive, only to turn around a year later and give me a discount. I am thankful.

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Light the Furnace

The weather has been very challenging here to say the least. 2015 was the fourth wettest on record. Between Thanksgiving and New Years we’ve had close to a foot of rain. That just is not good since it doesn’t dry out that time of year. When that is coupled with temps that are 50 degrees on Thursday and 20 below on Monday it can create a lot of stress on cattle, and the care giver.

photo%2013

So what is a guy to do? The main focus is to take the stress off the cattle.

When it gets just terrible cold I typically will not rush out to feed. In 17 years of experience I have learned it’s not necessary. On a typical nice January day I may head out around 7 a.m. When it gets 0 degrees or colder I may wait until 8 or a bit later. The reason is I have noticed that the cattle don’t care to get up and move much at that time. Sunrise is usually the coldest part of the day, so it seems to be to their liking to wait a little while and let it start to warm up a bit.

I will start the tractors and let them warm up. While they are doing that I will walk all the pens. This walk will be over a mile in distance. It is not the most fun you will have when bundled up in all that heavy winter clothing. I will not move to fast so that I won’t begin to sweat. If that happens I will begin to get cold rather quickly.
photo%2011

I will go in every pen, and chip ice off the water tanks if they need it. Water is the first limiting nutrient for cattle, making it the most important. They need water to help with digestion, which in turn helps keep their furnace running. Let me explain that. When a calf ruminates, he is acquiring nutrients from plant-based food by fermenting it in a specialized stomach prior to digestion, through microbial actions. The process typically requires the fermented cud to be regurgitated and chewed again. The process of rechewing the cud to further break down plant matter and stimulate digestion is called rumination. Rumination helps them generate body heat. This process can cause them to elevate their body temperature above normal by a few degrees. Couple that with their winter hair coats and that heavy leather hide and they handle the weather very well.
While I am in the pens I will make sure each and every single calf gets up. This is critical. Each critter may be feeling just fine. They may be ruminating, napping or just chilling. They will have a good spot picked out that is out of the wind and be very comfortable. I get them up because they may just stay there other wise, and not come eat when I feed them. When it gets that darn cold they will consume more feed. If one calf doesn’t get up and go eat his pen mates may eat it all leaving him none. This will cause him to get stressed. First off he is hungry and second he will not have the fuel to ruminate. These two stressors can cause him to not feel well, and this could be a problem. We do not want stressed cattle because they may get sick. Just the simple task of getting them up can prevent a lot of problems.

Breaking the ice off the drinkers

Breaking the ice off the drinkers

getting everyone up bofore feeding.  Note the bales in the background.  they are there for wind protection.  The dirt pile on the right is from scraping pens to make a nice place for them to lay down

getting everyone up bofore feeding. Note the bales in the background. they are there for wind protection. The dirt pile on the right is from scraping pens to make a nice place for them to lay down

Later on in the day I will take the cattle for a walk. Exercise is good for them. When the ground is frozen solid they will move slowly because it is hard on their feet. I will apply enough pressure to move them around but not so much that they feel like they need to get away from me quickly. A precaution to prevent them from injuring themselves on the rutted ground. Sometimes I just move them around their home pen a bit but usually I get them out in the alley ways. This gives them the chance to walk 3/8 of a mile one way and also they get to see cattle in the other pens. This will stimulate those cattle as well.

Out for a walk

Out for a walk

Upon returning to their home pen the cattle will usually eat a little or get a drink.
The three most important things a calf can do for optimum health is exercise, rest, and eat and drink. We just did all three of those things. Simple stuff. I have learned that if you want to manage for healthy cattle you must do healthy cattle things.

Keeping the pens maintained is important too. I keep a portion of the pen scraped to keep the mud and manure down to a minimum. When you get as much rain as we did in December this can be difficult to do, just because of all the slop, but the best attempt to do it must be made. As I said rest is critical for the cattle so we must provide a good area for them to lay down.

If the weather gets really bad for a period of time I will bed them. This means I will roll out a bale of some kind of cheap forage that is really not a good feed source. This bedding helps give them a barrier between wet ground, or just an insulation layer between them and frozen ground.

Yesterday morning when I did my normal routine it was 20 below. When I fed again in the evening it was in the teens. My cattle were running around their pens, bucking and sparring with one another (more exercise). This is a behavior of healthy, happy, stress free cattle! Mission accomplished. Thing is we start it all over again the next morning.

Fueling the furnace

Fueling the furnace

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Face Palm (bread & milk)

Anger is one emotion that really motivates me.  I’ve had some people nudging me for some time to resume blogging.  Last week my attention was brought to an article that appeared on Cattlenetwork.  It was full of some of the worst marketing advice out there.

Here’s a link.  Remember this is bad stuff.  http://www.cattlenetwork.com/e-newsletters/drovers-daily/Worth-the-Weight-259959381.html?utm_content=&utm_medium=eNL&utm_source=1017H7692790D8V&utm_campaign=Drovers+CattleNetwork+Daily_20140521&utm_term=&page=2   You should never read anything in Cattlenetwork and take it seriously.

 

I already confronted the guy quoted in the article.  It didn’t go well.  At one point I even had to ask him if he was even taking the conversation seriously or if he was just messing around!  It became very clear to me in just a few minutes he has no grasp of the North American cattle biz.

Here’s what really bothers me, and is the reason for me writing this.  I am afraid someone somewhere read this article, believed him to be and “expert” and  is following  his advice, which may seriously affect their ability to pay for bread and milk.  I know most people aren’t in the cattle biz to make money, that is clear, thing is there are some people who are really depending on those cattle to earn a living.  That is something you just don’t screw around with!

I told this guy that all his article needed to say was this, “anytime you can turn a profit, DO IT!”  In the article he mentions having leftover feed.  People, as dry as it is in most parts, including where him and I both live, feed in inventory is a damn good thing.  His advice to feed it to put more weight on your cattle based on Value Of Gain (VOG) is, well, just “beep”ing dumb.

There are three legs you need in the cattle biz, cattle, feed, and cash.  If you have all three your business can stand up on its own like a bar stool.  So if you can sell your current inventory of cattle and replace them with undervalued cattle, then you should take the profit and start adding value to those replacement cattle.  You can’t turn a profit and generate cash flow by holding inventory.  Take Walmart for example, they didn’t get as big as they are by holding inventory, or selling for more.  They did the opposite, turn inventory over lots of times and sell it for less, taking small margins lots of times.

Now I totally understand the VOG thing.  I blogged about it years ago on the YPC Cattle Call page.  Thing is it is not something you make a marketing decision based off of.

Now let me explain why this Kat is wrong.  He said the market is signaling that it wants us to put more weight on our cattle.  I sent this guy weighted averages from multiple states showing that just isn’t so.  Hasn’t been for months.  The buyers have been telling us for sometime now that they want to be the ones to put the weight on them.   Our “expert” confessed to me he based his market outlook off of Salina.  You can’t come to a conclusion based off one sale barn, and post it as if it’s a nation wide deal.  I know this for a fact.  I buy cattle in lots of different states in lots of different barns, including Salina.

Since this Kat is from KS and used 7 weights as an example in his article, let’s look at that.  Here is what was written:

In this example, Tonsor pointed out that the feeder cattle market in June compared to May looks to be higher. If the steer sells at a higher price in June when he is 50 pounds heavier, the value of gain (VOG) is projected to be more than $2, around $2.11, which could well exceed the cost of gain (COG) for producers who have access to feed resources.

First off, this guy must be a gypsy with a crystal ball.  I would not want to play cards with this Kat.  Trying to predict/forecast the future, in this case June, is a form of gambling.  Otherwise known as “betting on the come”.  Yeah, that always works out well, playa.  Like I’ve said before, all it takes is a rising market for an idiot to look like a genius.   Don’t even get me started on what he says about December.  I’ll tell you this, feedlots are about to start feeling some heartburn, but you won’t hear anything about that for several months yet.  Maybe feeders will be higher in June.  Maybe not.  Why risk it?  Take the profit

On the weighted average I sent him from KS a 668# steer brought $2.15 or roughly $1430ish/head.  A 728# steer brought $1.91 or roughly $1390ish/head.  What was the signal again?  Wait, I bet we didn’t hold em long enough and feed enough weight on them.   Wrong playa, Thing is, it gets worse the bigger they get.  And its not just KS, its every state.

The weighted averages for most states from last week aren’t posted yet.  Since I actively market cattle on a day to day basis to pay for bread and milk for my family, I will tell you that the market was inverted.  What I mean by that is the market really rewarded lighter cattle.  At one NE barn 650# steers brought over $1525/head.  7 and 8 weight cattle didn’t bring that much money.  SO, if you sold those 6 weights you could buy back replacement cattle that were 50 to 150# heavier, for even money or even had money left over.  Think about that, THE MARKET WAS PAYING YOU TO TAKE WEIGHT HOME!!  You could buy 8 weights for roughly $40 head more than the 6 weights.  Can you put 200# on for $40?  HELL NO.  Hey, where’s our buddy with that VOG thingie?

I don’t know what is worse, the fact that the guy put this garbage out there, the fact that the author wrote it and didn’t stop and say “WTF?”  We can’t blame Cattlenetwork, they don’t have a brain and don’t want one.  Normally this is where I would suggest they all be fired or quit.  I’m not going to do that.  Having been on the receiving end of vocational terrorism just 14 months ago I know how that feels.  It is my sincere wish/hope that these Kats take some time to learn sound marketing skill, and critical thinking skill and share THAT with the world.

Think about this.  Suppose you do what I say, and take the profit and replace with other cattle.  Suppose the other guy is right and the market goes up.  Now you are set up to take two profits and replace again, making it even easier to pay for bread and milk.

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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