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Imagine this calf all fitted up for a show.

Just because it moo’s doesn’t mean it should be breeding stock!

I’m going to go on a limb, because that’s where the fruit is, and talk about this a little bit.

Just because an animal has a registration paper doesn’t mean it should be breeding stock either!

Are you getting up tight yet?

Believe me, I’ve raised thousands of head of cattle. Some people come and want cows that are functional but “cheap” = “under market price”. They don’t care if the cow ever produces a replacement. Fact is, some of them shouldn’t! Those folks raise cattle for 1-2-3-4 years then move on. They sell the cow, with her papers to someone else. They think it’s one of the best cows they’ve ever seen. BUT they don’t have the same view the previous owner had. They bought that cow “cheap” = “under market price”. So they don’t care. They’re gonna make big money on some “good deal”. But will they?

Maybe that female is a great mother, but she fails to make a bull that looks like a bull. Or make daughters better than herself using average quality bulls.

At what point do we raise the bar.

At Rolling Hills Cattle Company, I’ve raised the bar. I made a market for my cull cows so that they bring a decent living wage back to us, and hold the value of quality that the market needs. We then price our breeding stock at 1.5-2x that market price. Which is the average amount that quality breeding cattle bring over market price.

Some places you can pick up commercial black cows for about the same price, or just a little less than what ours are selling for. We are still very much at a fair market value. We are not producing cattle for the lower 15% xxx-mart’s of the world. We’re producing for the top 15%. There’s a lot of average in between. There’s no point in producing for that market. It’s flooded already.

Quality cattle will always bring a better price. A diamond is worth more than coal. They are produced together, but one is black, the other is white/ clear. One is porous, the other is very solid and uniformly shaped.

If you’re going to go through the motions to feed, water, calve, breed, wean, feed, fence, and so on a cheap cow, and a quality cow, but the returns on a quality cow are 25-50-100-200% more than the cheap cow, does it stand to reason that spending more up front is worth it?

We’re all intelligent and logical people. It’s easier to buy a good quality refrigerator, vs an ice box. The Ice box may be cheaper, but it requires an Ice house, straw, Ice collecting, and a ton of labor that will cost far more than the refrigerator that plugs into the wall for a few cents a day of electric.

I don’t know where that analogy came from, but it’s not bad.

In the end, a cattlemen who is in the beef cattle business is concerned about profit per acre. He only has so many acres. The cows are the cash crop.

Recently Kit Pharo shared a post:

“The best analogy I’ve ever heard was when Johan Zietsman said, “If corn farmers thought like beef producers, they would space their plants far apart and try to maximize the number of ears per plant and the number of kernels per ear. They would think nothing about yield per acre. In the end, they would all go broke.”

If the goal of a corn farmer is to increase production per plant, he would plant few plants per acre — as shown in the foreground of the picture to the right. On the other hand, if the farmer’s goal was to increase production per acre, he would plant many plants per acre — as shown in the background of the picture to the right. The plants in the foreground will produce more pounds per plant — but profit will be nonexistent.

Can you see how ridiculous it is to focus on more pounds per cow at the expense of more pounds per acre? This is the biggest difference there is between high-profit producers and average producers. This is why many PCC customers are two to five times more profitable than their neighbors. Nothing affects profitability, or lack thereof, as much as stocking rate. ”

Johan Zietsman photo credit.

So just because a cow or bull has an udder or testicles in tact, doesn’t mean it’s a quality animal. We need to be VERY picky about what we keep and reproduce as registered breeders. Even more strict than the commercial cattlemen. In order to offer the commercial cattlemen a bull or cow that has good phenotype to produce more pounds of calf per acre, offering them more profit per acre, we must be picky! We must scrutinize every detail. Including the dam and sire of the prospect.

Check out the website to learn about linear measurement and how these techniques can help you be more picky when selecting your breeding stock before you invest a lot of time and money into cows or bulls that will not help improve your herd. Gerald Fry has since passed on, but his son has kept the education alive. There are other cattlemen who have a great eye for structure and phenotype. They are great people to learn from.

Never settle for a “cheap” = “under market price” cow or bull. Buy 5 good ones instead of 10 “cheap” cows and make more money in the long run.