Breeding Herd Efficiency

The fat Cattle market affects all segments of the beef cattle complex. We can all remember several years ago when the calf producer was generating good profits from their cow herds, but not most are seeing a loss in their bottom line. There are certainly issues with integration on the packer level and a few of us remember a time when large corporations tried to enter the cow calf sector. Overhead, labor and cost of investment was not suited to them because ranches are multi-generational and not measure in yearly profit and loss. We are not an assembly line cranking out calves. We are a family business producing a product we are proud to brand. We take ownership, we take the risks, we invest in our future and we preserve our natural resources. This stressful spring of COVID had very little effect on our lifestyle because we are invested in our businesses and not our recreational activities.

Sadly, COVID has taken a large bite out of the fat cattle market through no fault of the producer. We, by nature, are conservative people who prefer to be left alone. We want less government, not more! Most of us are reluctant to get involved in matters of pricing and take what we get and move on. Your voice needs to be heard on the national level! It is in all of our best interests if we align ourselves with groups and organizations which are taking the fight for better prices to the controlling powers. This costs dollars, so it is important that you invest in the membership dues of the organization which you choose to be your voice in the marketplace. We need to help ourselves.

Enough politics and now the production reason for this article. Gone are the days when every cow we turned to grass and came home with a calf made us money. When times were good I would joke, "The difference between a spring and a fall calf in South Dakota was the fourth of July. Many of us have moved our calving dates back to mid-April as a result of the bad springs. Hopefully with some management decisions we can improve the efficiency of our operations and improve our profits.

I will write timely articles for the cow-calf producer every two weeks. They will be about management, new products and other important issues. As we move into the fall, stay healthy, let your voice be heard and continue living your dream as a South Dakota cattle producer.