It is sad to see some great herds disperse but it is a natural phenomenon. The Bakenhus family have done a great job of developing an excellent herd. I remember visiting this herd 35 years ago, several years before they were well known, and being very impressed with the cowherd then. This has been a herd of outstanding cows for many decades. I have heard a bit about the reasons the dispersal is being held and they are very understandable. Genetic defects had no part in this decison, in my opinion. Ward and his family would not be making this decision if it was not in their best interest, and I think we should support them in their decision. Schrag's herd reduction is also an understandable decision. Looking back, I remember many dispersals that caused some to wonder if the sky was falling. For example, I remember when Hoyt Central dispersed, some at the sale felt the breed would not be able to survive without the Hoyt support. Seems to me that the Shorthorn breed has survived quite well since this historic dispersal
As far as fuel prices and grain prices, they are certainly going to affect our industry, but they will NOT destroy it. I personally think they are challanges that will cause us to adjust our industry and it will survive and come out the other end of this. I also feel that the ethanol industry is in for a major adjustnment within a few years. We are already seeing reports that indicate that ethanol is not the answer to every energy concern, and it is a very expensive energy source. I am not sure if anyone else is noticing this but the fuel economy of my vehicles has got really bad since our fuel has added 10% ethanol to it. I also feel that this do called energy shortage is NOT as real as we are being led to believe. I do not think there is any real world shortage of oil. I happen to live on the edge of a booming oil patch. Drilling is going on in a very crazy way despite the fact that they can only ship about 70% of their production. This results in many oil wells only pumping a few hours each day. If there was a world shortage of oil, I think they would be finding ways to get this oil to market. The new oil discovery where uluru grew up, and still maintains some of his cattle, is huge. I recently read that it is estimated to contain more oil than Saudi Arabia has. It is reported to be in the billions of barrels. It is also a very light crude that requires very little refining. This oil is almost clear when it is pumped out of the ground. The oil sands in Alberta and Saskatchewan are some of the worlds largest oil supplies and they are only starting to be tapped. This is a very large oil zone which covers a large area of southern Manitoba, Saskatchewan, as well as parts of North Dakota and Montana. It is a deeper oil reserve and it has only recently been tapped as new technology has been developed. I have heard that it costs approx. $.5 million to drill a well, and many of these wells are paid for before they can pull the drilling pile out of the ground. It is almost obscene what profits these oil companies are making. I think they are entitled to make excellent profits for the risks and development costs they have to endure, but what is happening right now is certainly uncalled for.
It will take many decades for this Bakken zone to be fully developed ... and the good news is that there is still another deeper oil zone below this that is expected to be as big ... if not bigger. Th world price of oil has doubled in less than 3 years. I do not think the world demand has doubled in the same period of time. There is more available oil now than there was 3 years ago, so it is my opinion that some of what we are presently seeing is caused by speculators... just as we saw in early March when wheat prices high $24/ bushel. Since then, wheat prices have dropped to less than 1/2 of that amount once the speculators settled out of the market. In regards to oil prices, I think we are in for a bumpy ride for a while yet, and it will take some time for this to settle out.
After travelling in Britain where fuel prices are 2.5 times higher than here, I saw a very strong beef industry there. Purebred beef cattle have never been as popular there as they are right now. This assures me that we will survive... even though I am not sure of all the answers right now. All I know is that beef will always be a valued food and it seems that as most countries become more affluent, they increase their consumption of beef. Beef cattle are an important part of many agricultural environments and they will remain important in these areas. These factors will certainly change our industry but they will affect every industry and every life. I happen to think they are just a few more factors we have to work around... but then I tend to think the glass is half full rather than half empty.
What are my plans to ride out this rocky time in regards to high energy and feed prices? I plan to evaluate each and every animal in my herd this fall when they come home from summer pastures. I will cull harder than I have ever done in recent times. Each animal that stays in the herd will have to prove it has a reason to stay. I may cut my herd to less than 1/2 it's present numbers( I have not decided yet ) and I may implant many more embryos in co-operator herds if I can find some willing to work with me. I may try to lease some cows out to some younger farmers who are trying to get established. There are many ways to reduce your costs and still remain very active in this business.
Doc, in regards to Sonny Sue. She is probably the biggest framed, longest bodied Sonny daughter I have ever seen. The picture in the ad was taken when she was two years old. She is now 5 years old and she is pretty impressive and has a picture perfect udder. Her first calf was the top selling female at the Royal Winter Fair sale at $8000. We tried to buy Sonny Sue two years ago, but couldn't get it done, so we contracted her in a flushing agreement. Her first flush was conducted last Tuesday and we froze 17 embryos from Wolf Willow Major Leroy. This was good news to arrive home from Scotland too. I think she is going to niche well with many sires. We feel she is a good addition to our donor herd which now includes over 20 females.