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RobertMac



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PostSubject: Re: Raising Efficient Cattle Strategies   Tue Jan 25, 2011 10:53 pm

Jack, I don't push my cattle, but I think the reach their genetic potential...it just takes a little longer.
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Grassfarmer



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PostSubject: Re: Raising Efficient Cattle Strategies   Tue Jan 25, 2011 11:00 pm

Jack McNamee wrote:
Grassfarmer wrote:
I had a little foray into this "treating heifers tough" theory in recent years - we kind of drifted that way, lulled by reading too much and thinking too little. Last year was the turning point in the learning experience. We had poorer than normal silage in a drought year with high feed costs and chose to drop our usual pellet supplement ration to the weaned heifer calves. After a cold early winter the calves lost a bit of weight but then picked up and looked very healthy towards spring. Problem was their net gain for the winter was almost zero so we had substantially set them back in their development making them smaller at start of breeding season. With some careful grass management, and now winter feed management we have got them back almost to where they should be. We never lost anything on conception but likely because we breed close to mid summer - if we had bred earlier the result might have been more costly. It was a stupid experiment that I won't be repeating and it certainly was not "efficient" or profitable.
With pellets costing us 8.5c/lb and silage 5.3c/lb on a dry matter basis replacing pellets with more silage just doesn't make sense if the result is the cattle stand still versus gain 1lb+ per day. We only ever feed about 3lb of pellets and usually drop them closer to spring when it warms up and their rumens are better adjusted to using larger quantities of forage.
Another thing that struck me as stupid afterwards was that our cows are already kept on a fairly tough, extended season grazing program so if they have been selected for "foraging efficiency" why wouldn't we trust their offspring to have it also?

I should leave this alone but I just can't. Why do you call what you did stupid? I understand the pellet versus silage if one pound of the pellet has the same feed value of 2 pounds of silage but what I don't understand is what was wrong with smaller heifers that are all bred. They were healthy when they hit grass and were growing. Your conception rates didn't change. If your program is to breed later than what difference does it make to you, that if you would have bred earlier they would not have bred up as well? Careful grass management seems cheap compared to winter feed. With winter feed management they are back where they should be. What diference does that make? A bred heifer in a body condition 5 this time of year is all I need. I don't care about the size. It seems to me that it was a good test but only half a test. What would of happened to those cows if you would have just let them be what ever size they were going to be by no change in winter feed management? Would they have been smaller their whole lives? Would they have needed less feed or more, to winter? Would they have lasted longer or not as long as the heifers that gained 1 pound per day? Would their production have suffered? I sure can't understand why this was stupid.

My concern was the size the cattle were relative to their mature genetic potential weight. In my opinion there is a certain percentage of mature size they need to be at every stage of their life. If you feed them so they are substantially under that weight for age I think you will suffer on conception and breed-back. If I had not implemented corrective management on those heifers coming out of last winter I would have expected lower conception, bred heifers too small to withstand our winter weather, heifers too small to be calving and poor breed back next summer. As it stands my bred heifers averaged 990lbs in mid December - they will calf around 2 in late April/May but they are genetically at least 1300lbs mature cows. I reckon if I hadn't implemented my management re-alignment on these heifers they would have been 8-850lbs instead of just under 1000lbs and that in my opinion would have left them with just too much growing to to to be successful mothers over their first couple of calves without an unacceptable drop-out level. Our conditions are tough enough sometimes and I think it is false economy to short these young growing calves too much. Even if my 3lb of pellets a day only replaced silage on a 1:1 basis it would still only cost me $5-$10 a head to feed the pellets through the first winter. We had actually been drifting the "tough rearing" direction for a couple of years already and it has resulted in smaller weaning weights off first calf heifers, leaner 2/3rd calvers going into winter and more opens than we had in the past in this age group. The idea if you push the stock hard enough to eliminate more and more of the "less efficient" seems just stupid now - sure I could eliminate half of them but to what end? I'd not have enough genetics or cattle left to work with. Life is too short for that in my book but if others are happy to rear them this way and it works under their conditions I'm not going to say it's wrong for them.
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PostSubject: Re: Raising Efficient Cattle Strategies   Wed Jan 26, 2011 9:31 am

I hear what you and Grassfarmer are saying Robert. We run our heifers fairly tough through the winter here I think. They will end up gaining around 1/2 pound a day from Nov. 1-Apr. 15, but I'm just guessing. I don't weight them in the spring. They weigh around 550 mid october and the drys weigh 850 the end of Sept. We run around 13-14% open on a 45 day breeding and I know I could improve that if I fed better but I have a hard time justifiying more feed to pick up 3-5%. Where we do get hit is the coming 3's. Not so much in opens but they need more care through the winter between 2 and 3 years old. It has definitely lowered our over all mature size by 1-200 pounds and in winters like we are having they eat alot less feed with the exception of the coming 3s. I've seen no reduction in production but we have had several really good summers so I keep watching. I know you can't starve a living out of a cow but I'm also convinced you can't pound a profit into one with a feed truck.
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Grassfarmer



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PostSubject: Re: Raising Efficient Cattle Strategies   Wed Jan 26, 2011 10:26 am

A couple of points there Jack - I think there is a risk of highlighting extremes to make a point - "pounding a profit out with a feed truck" may be the opposite of starving a cow but you can feed them a little without in any way over feeding them. Feed is feed. I may use 3lbs of pellets along with silage and straw but it may be no better total ration than Roberts straight hay in an easier winter climate.
Your point about lowering your mature weights by 1-200lbs totally doesn't sail here - when do cattle stop maturing? I bought one small herd of registered red Angus where the guy raised them tough - no grain, undersized first calf heifers, weaning 50% of their weight because they were lean, milky cows. His mature cow weights were mostly in the 1200lb range. Lo and behold when I bought them and gave them more grass in summer they grew and grew. I still have some that are @ 8 years old and they are some of my heaviest cows - 14-1500lbs. Under my conditions I don't believe you can limit mature cow weight by shorting feed as youngsters - maybe that's different elsewhere?
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EddieM



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PostSubject: Re: Raising Efficient Cattle Strategies   Wed Jan 26, 2011 11:49 am

Quote :
Would that mean that in time the Aleutian cattle will resemble the caribou, or reindeer, or what ever four legged animal with hooves that lives up there?

They will do so on the day that Horse Butte Ranch cattle get confused with antelope. clown

Quote :
My thinking is simple...if I have two cows, one requires deworming

This is apples and oranges. You have my vote on not worming cattle over 3 years old. You take it another step and worm nothing and that is quite good if you can afford the cull costs and the economic loss to do that sort. There are breeds and species that can handle parasites better than others. Our St Croix sheep are not wormed and if any one individual ever needs worming it is gone. I bought into a breed that had that genetic ability and will preserve that trait. I do not believe that many cattle breeds can make that claim and/or it has an economic benefit that most want to trade pennies to gain dollars.

But you also do not provide any minerals. There is a lot of bogus science but it is hard to argue with the benefits of a complete diet. I asked you months ago if you avoided balanced diets for yourself and your children. I am still curious as to how solid you are set in that value. Again, this is just a discussion based on the information you provide to discuss and has no real implications for me. But with "forage only" I still think that decades of breeding will bring you to a downsized model of what you started with and with a survivor type look. Keep on doing what works and what you enjoy.
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EddieM



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PostSubject: Re: Raising Efficient Cattle Strategies   Wed Jan 26, 2011 11:58 am

Quote :
There's type, there's environment and then there is profit. Pick the priority of the one issue most important to you and you'll move in that direction and if you live long enough you might even get there. Again Robert, you want your cattle in the southeast USA with no inputs. You'll end up with a herd that will, in time, resemble Longhorns and Pineywoods: survivors of past times and no input. If you can market that story and sell the meat for a profit, then you have achieved your goal and I am happy for you.

With all due respect, I disagree with this Eddie. With no inputs and with no introduction of new blood those cattle would look like the survivors of the past, but I think you could run these cattle with no inputs but not allow them to become inbred and they would not regress that much. I would also think that type, environment, and profit could and done right would, all go hand in hand.

Change the environment and you can afford cattle that do more of something.

Change to environment too much and you will not be able to afford the change. We are not the first generation to own and raise cows.

I agree with the first sentence but I don't understand the second one.

With no inputs and with no introduction of new blood those cattle would look like the survivors of the past The Pineywoods cattle were not regressed. They were forage only with some forage being woodland scavaging and the rest included little to no improved forages. They were the mix of many breeds. Longhorns are supposed to be one breed. Florida Crackers were the mix of many breeds. They all have the same TYPE.

Quote :
Change the environment and you can afford cattle that do more of something.
An effort to say that the most return is usually on the first increment of investment: same as the law of diminishing returns.

Quote :
Change to environment too much and you will not be able to afford the change.
The least return is usually made on the last increment of investment.
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PostSubject: Re: Raising Efficient Cattle Strategies   Wed Jan 26, 2011 1:22 pm

Marginal costs/marginal returns... Ag Econ 101
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PostSubject: Re: Raising Efficient Cattle Strategies   Wed Jan 26, 2011 3:19 pm

Gregory Walker wrote:
Marginal costs/marginal returns... Ag Econ 101

Ag Econ huh. Did the professor say if that return was gross or net? And if he's right than the opposite must also be true. The more I will spend the more I will make.
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PostSubject: Re: Raising Efficient Cattle Strategies   Wed Jan 26, 2011 3:36 pm

EddieM wrote:
Quote :
There's type, there's environment and then there is profit. Pick the priority of the one issue most important to you and you'll move in that direction and if you live long enough you might even get there. Again Robert, you want your cattle in the southeast USA with no inputs. You'll end up with a herd that will, in time, resemble Longhorns and Pineywoods: survivors of past times and no input. If you can market that story and sell the meat for a profit, then you have achieved your goal and I am happy for you.

With all due respect, I disagree with this Eddie. With no inputs and with no introduction of new blood those cattle would look like the survivors of the past, but I think you could run these cattle with no inputs but not allow them to become inbred and they would not regress that much. I would also think that type, environment, and profit could and done right would, all go hand in hand.

Change the environment and you can afford cattle that do more of something.

Change to environment too much and you will not be able to afford the change. We are not the first generation to own and raise cows.

I agree with the first sentence but I don't understand the second one.

With no inputs and with no introduction of new blood those cattle would look like the survivors of the past The Pineywoods cattle were not regressed. They were forage only with some forage being woodland scavaging and the rest included little to no improved forages. They were the mix of many breeds. Longhorns are supposed to be one breed. Florida Crackers were the mix of many breeds. They all have the same TYPE.

Quote :
Change the environment and you can afford cattle that do more of something.
An effort to say that the most return is usually on the first increment of investment: same as the law of diminishing returns.

Quote :
Change to environment too much and you will not be able to afford the change.
The least return is usually made on the last increment of investment.

You are sure they were not regressed? You can have inbred mongrels. I just don't see how all mongrels can look the same or have the same type unless the mix was the same to begin with and the environments were similar.

The quote I didn't understand was "we are not the first generation to own and raise cows". scratch I understand and agree with the other two.
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PostSubject: Re: Raising Efficient Cattle Strategies   Wed Jan 26, 2011 7:14 pm

Jack McNamee wrote:
Gregory Walker wrote:
Marginal costs/marginal returns... Ag Econ 101

Ag Econ huh. Did the professor say if that return was gross or net? And if he's right than the opposite must also be true. The more I will spend the more I will make.

Nope, it is Net and and that is the point where you quit.... but I am sure that you knew that.... but maybe not if you had to ask the question.
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RobertMac



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PostSubject: Re: Raising Efficient Cattle Strategies   Wed Jan 26, 2011 7:41 pm

Gregory Walker wrote:
Jack McNamee wrote:
Gregory Walker wrote:
Marginal costs/marginal returns... Ag Econ 101

Ag Econ huh. Did the professor say if that return was gross or net? And if he's right than the opposite must also be true. The more I will spend the more I will make.

Nope, it is Net and and that is the point where you quit.... but I am sure that you knew that.... but maybe not if you had to ask the question.
Most all my Ag courses were production, not econ......moderate return - less cost = some profit Rolling Eyes
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PostSubject: Re: Raising Efficient Cattle Strategies   Wed Jan 26, 2011 8:13 pm

You push the model until Net profit is zero, beyond that point, there is no real gain.
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PostSubject: Re: Raising Efficient Cattle Strategies   Wed Jan 26, 2011 8:34 pm

Gregory Walker wrote:
Jack McNamee wrote:
Gregory Walker wrote:
Marginal costs/marginal returns... Ag Econ 101

Ag Econ huh. Did the professor say if that return was gross or net? And if he's right than the opposite must also be true. The more I will spend the more I will make.

Nope, it is Net and and that is the point where you quit.... but I am sure that you knew that.... but maybe not if you had to ask the question.

No I sure didn't know that. Here I've been ranching all my life and all I had to do was spend more money and I would make more money. Maximum costs/ maximum returns. Look out world!
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PostSubject: Re: Raising Efficient Cattle Strategies   Wed Jan 26, 2011 8:39 pm

Gregory Walker wrote:
You push the model until Net profit is zero, beyond that point, there is no real gain.

I know I'm a smart ass and I apologize for that, but I really need some help on this one.
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PostSubject: Re: Raising Efficient Cattle Strategies   Thu Jan 27, 2011 9:39 am

Grassfarmer wrote:
A couple of points there Jack - I think there is a risk of highlighting extremes to make a point - "pounding a profit out with a feed truck" may be the opposite of starving a cow but you can feed them a little without in any way over feeding them. Feed is feed. I may use 3lbs of pellets along with silage and straw but it may be no better total ration than Roberts straight hay in an easier winter climate.
Your point about lowering your mature weights by 1-200lbs totally doesn't sail here - when do cattle stop maturing? I bought one small herd of registered red Angus where the guy raised them tough - no grain, undersized first calf heifers, weaning 50% of their weight because they were lean, milky cows. His mature cow weights were mostly in the 1200lb range. Lo and behold when I bought them and gave them more grass in summer they grew and grew. I still have some that are @ 8 years old and they are some of my heaviest cows - 14-1500lbs. Under my conditions I don't believe you can limit mature cow weight by shorting feed as youngsters - maybe that's different elsewhere?

I agree with you on most of this and I certainly don't advocate starving ones cattle. I certainly don't, and feed is feed all relitive to ones environment, but don't you make my point on the mature weight. Those red angus cows were and would have remained 1200 lb cows in his environment but with better grass or better winter management they matured to 14-1500 lb cows at your place. 15 years ago our mature cows averaged 1400 lbs. Now I don't know when the last time I sold a cow that weighted 1300 lbs and most of them average in the low 1200 lb range. The genetics on our mature cows has not really changed so I can only point to a change in the way we winter our heifer calves. I know our mature cows sure eat less. The winter of 95-96 was very similar to this winter. We started feeding 3 weeks eariler and I could feed up to 30 lbs of hay and they would slick it up clean. I have rolled out 30 lbs for these cows now, just to see what they would do and they just bed in it. 20 lbs is about all they will clean up. The last few days it has warmed up into the high 30's and they won't even eat that. I don't know if they are more efficient or less and I make no claims one way or the other. I only know they take less feed and their production has not suffered, but we have had some pretty good grass years here of late so I keep watching.

I'm not saying that since it worked here it will work for you. I just didn't understand why you felt so stupid for trying it, whether it worked or not.

It's the little more, little more factor I want to avoid. The PHDs say that any feed given, beyond what a cow needs to maintain will go to the calf and thus increase production. I'm sure they are right but they never talk about what happens the next generation. That cow needs a little more to do the same thing and I think the 17-1900 pound dry cows we see going to town from some of these registered herds bears that out.
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RobertMac



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PostSubject: Re: Raising Efficient Cattle Strategies   Thu Jan 27, 2011 9:51 am

Eddie, you have asked me about my diet and my family's diet...I've overlooked answering you and did not mean to.

As with cattle, it depends on what science you want to believe and, I'm sure no surprise to you, my thinking goes against conventional main-stream thinking. Lots of meat, dairy, vegetables...little grain products, but only whole grains...basically whole foods the way God made them. I stay away from processed foods(as much as possible)...especially refined carbohydrates which I believe are the underlying cause of most of our chronic health problems. Here are some references...

"Good Calories, Bad Calories" by Gary Taubes...I believe this is the most important health, nutrition, diet book ever written and well documented. He also has an article in the latest Reader's Digest.

"Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon and Dr. Mary Enig...You can get much more information from these two at
http://www.westonaprice.org/
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Mean Spirit



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PostSubject: Re: Raising Efficient Cattle Strategies   Thu Jan 27, 2011 10:40 am

Science never depends on what you believe in. It either is, or it ain't.
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EddieM



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PostSubject: Re: Raising Efficient Cattle Strategies   Thu Jan 27, 2011 12:04 pm

Quote :
You are sure they were not regressed? You can have inbred mongrels. I just don't see how all mongrels can look the same or have the same type unless the mix was the same to begin with and the environments were similar.

I'll see if I can find Justin Pitt's history of the Pineywoods cattle for you and post it.


Quote :
The quote I didn't understand was "we are not the first generation to own and raise cows". I understand and agree with the other two.

We often think that we have to make the simple to be hard or maybe we perceive that the history of cattle rasing hangs by a thread from what we do. If we can do a little reading, a little thinking, a lot of listening and very little talking we come to learn and realize that we are not important and our goals will be gone with us. Cattle are not a topic worth a constant war or skirmish for me. Doing our best is essential toward people and animals but assuming ourselve in a pivotal role, as Larry has eluded to the letter about the "crossroads" is ego driven.
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EddieM



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PostSubject: Re: Raising Efficient Cattle Strategies   Thu Jan 27, 2011 12:05 pm

Quote :
Science never depends on what you believe in. It either is, or it ain't.

But your sources can make you look like an idiot.
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RobertMac



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PostSubject: Re: Raising Efficient Cattle Strategies   Thu Jan 27, 2011 2:41 pm

Mean Spirit wrote:
Science never depends on what you believe in. It either is, or it ain't.
Like the science behind the cause of global warming??? Oh, wait...the science has changed...it's now climate change!!! Laughing

Which is more health beneficial...low fat diet or low carb diet? Isn't there science on both sides?
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Mean Spirit



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PostSubject: Re: Raising Efficient Cattle Strategies   Thu Jan 27, 2011 3:03 pm

Doesn't matter. You don't 'believe" in science. It is correct, or it ain't.
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Kent Powell



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PostSubject: Re: Raising Efficient Cattle Strategies   Thu Jan 27, 2011 6:22 pm

Is the word science often misused?
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Grassfarmer



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PostSubject: Re: Raising Efficient Cattle Strategies   Thu Jan 27, 2011 11:49 pm

Jack McNamee wrote:
Grassfarmer wrote:
A couple of points there Jack - I think there is a risk of highlighting extremes to make a point - "pounding a profit out with a feed truck" may be the opposite of starving a cow but you can feed them a little without in any way over feeding them. Feed is feed. I may use 3lbs of pellets along with silage and straw but it may be no better total ration than Roberts straight hay in an easier winter climate.
Your point about lowering your mature weights by 1-200lbs totally doesn't sail here - when do cattle stop maturing? I bought one small herd of registered red Angus where the guy raised them tough - no grain, undersized first calf heifers, weaning 50% of their weight because they were lean, milky cows. His mature cow weights were mostly in the 1200lb range. Lo and behold when I bought them and gave them more grass in summer they grew and grew. I still have some that are @ 8 years old and they are some of my heaviest cows - 14-1500lbs. Under my conditions I don't believe you can limit mature cow weight by shorting feed as youngsters - maybe that's different elsewhere?

I agree with you on most of this and I certainly don't advocate starving ones cattle. I certainly don't, and feed is feed all relitive to ones environment, but don't you make my point on the mature weight. Those red angus cows were and would have remained 1200 lb cows in his environment but with better grass or better winter management they matured to 14-1500 lb cows at your place. 15 years ago our mature cows averaged 1400 lbs. Now I don't know when the last time I sold a cow that weighted 1300 lbs and most of them average in the low 1200 lb range. The genetics on our mature cows has not really changed so I can only point to a change in the way we winter our heifer calves. I know our mature cows sure eat less. The winter of 95-96 was very similar to this winter. We started feeding 3 weeks eariler and I could feed up to 30 lbs of hay and they would slick it up clean. I have rolled out 30 lbs for these cows now, just to see what they would do and they just bed in it. 20 lbs is about all they will clean up. The last few days it has warmed up into the high 30's and they won't even eat that. I don't know if they are more efficient or less and I make no claims one way or the other. I only know they take less feed and their production has not suffered, but we have had some pretty good grass years here of late so I keep watching.

I'm not saying that since it worked here it will work for you. I just didn't understand why you felt so stupid for trying it, whether it worked or not.

It's the little more, little more factor I want to avoid. The PHDs say that any feed given, beyond what a cow needs to maintain will go to the calf and thus increase production. I'm sure they are right but they never talk about what happens the next generation. That cow needs a little more to do the same thing and I think the 17-1900 pound dry cows we see going to town from some of these registered herds bears that out.

I don't think I made your point on mature weight as my example was another half experiment. The previous owner didn't breed them for long enough to have old cows. I bought them as 2-3 and 4th calvers and they were lean cows. I would argue that they were heading for a wreck if maintained on that program and he was having trouble getting them bred back. That said I'm not implying you are in that situation and our conditions may be far enough different that what works here won't work with you and visa versa.

Your cows must be getting more from grazing than they were 15 years ago in addition to the hay you are feeding them. If we assume feed intake around .025% of bodyweight on a dry matter basis your 1400lb cows back then needed 35lbs of DM a day - you fed them @30lbs, now with 1200lb cows needing 30lbs dry matter intake you are feeding 20lbs so the smaller cows today are needing to harvest twice as much through grazing as the bigger cows years ago.
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PostSubject: Re: Raising Efficient Cattle Strategies   Fri Jan 28, 2011 9:27 am

Jack McNamee wrote:
Gregory Walker wrote:
You push the model until Net profit is zero, beyond that point, there is no real gain.

I know I'm a smart ass and I apologize for that, but I really need some help on this one.

I was always intrigued by the corn growing contests. It is possible in some areas around here to grow around 400 bushels to the acre. The problem with doing that is that the inputs cost more than the gain.

It seems to me that the mainstream beef industry has and will continue to be engaged in a max output chase, and they have lost sight of the fact that after a certain point, the input costs exceed the output gain...

Of course, some of this is subtle. They wake up one morning and realize that they are feeding 1800 lb cows to get their 650 lb calves.

On the other hand. The "we are letting nature take its course.".. no inputs. We will feed hay for only X number of days is just as bad. and maybe worse, as I think they leave a lot of money on the table and potentially give the cattle industry a black eye as some of them draw attention from the local humane society.

There are management things to do that return more than they cost, so I guess in some cases spending money does make you more money. The idea is to find the line and not cross it. That is what I was trying to point out. And yes, you are a smart ass... Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Raising Efficient Cattle Strategies   Fri Jan 28, 2011 9:35 am

this has turned into a really good thread; and the thoughts of how to apply the middle ground approach to my farm resources is something I`m going to think about before next winter on my heifer calves..then implement something...using $40 to 60/ton hay for x number of days seems most logical and economical here..
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