I have a small herd that I am hoping to expand over the next couple of years as I am able to get access to some more land. Right now my operation is very, very small and consists of only 2 commercial cows (Shorthorn Crosses).
I'm wanting to eventually invest in some pure bred Shorthorn females that I can flush, and sell embryos on so I can make some extra money. I realize that sometimes we have to sell some good one's that we don't want to part with in order to have the reputation of offering good cattle to other breeders, and to have the money to purchase other genetics to add to our breeding program.
I was wanting to know how common is it to have enough money left over from selling animals, semen, and embryos to do other things such as pay the bills and other expenses outside of cattle?
Wanna make $$ in the business? Here is how...
1st, buy cattle that have the natural fleshing ability to stay in good condition on grass (not a feed truck... I mean feed bucket). Grass is almost always cheaper than grain. Grass is cheaper than protein supplement too.
2nd, have more land than it takes to run your cattle. Stockpile pasture in late summer & allow them to graze it during the cold months, as much as possible. It's cheaper if your cattle bale their own hay, than if you bale it for them. Also, bale the excess hay in the spring/early summer, so you wont have to buy hay from someone else & can sell it, if you find out that you have more than enough. Also, if you do rotational grazing, it will allow your grass extra time to recover between each rotation. You can always cut start cutting small sections for hay, if it gets ahead of you. The plants wont get trampled as badly.
3rd, buy small to moderate framed cattle. Smaller cattle = higher stocking rate = more lbs. per acre. Plus, since they weigh less & their hooves are smaller, they will do less damage. Also, smaller cattle don't require the "facilities & equipment" that bigger cattle do! One less wire on miles of fence is a significant difference. Shorter posts cost less too. Your corral wont have to be nearly as stout, etc., etc., etc. Some times less means more.
4th, Use only proven bulls or proven genetics. Don't use high birth weight or "known" hard calving bulls. A 95-100% calf crop is worth more than an 80-85% calf crop. Your cows will breed back much quicker too. On the same note, don't keep any females that you have to assist, even if you think it's the bulls fault. Breed calving difficulty out of your herd & you will be MUCH better off.
5th, Don't use high growth or high milk genetics. These are the type of animals that like to eat!!
6th, buy good stuff & don't be a penny pincher when it comes to your purchases, but don't get crazy with your purchases either. Quality is always better than quantity. The only exception is when the quality is close, then quantity might be better.
7th, advertise using the internet & figure out as many low cost advertising schemes as possible. Get to know all the breeders in your area (I'm talking about your entire region of the USA) & if possible, as many breeders across the country. Actually, I learned a long time ago, that I can do OK without ever attending a show or putting an AD in a breed magazine or paying for an AD period & it doesn't matter what breed it is... Show steers, Tarentaise, Lowlines, etc.. I honestly get a whole lot more mileage out of free advertising than I ever have for anything paid for. Make lots of contacts, keep in touch & use the internet. In 1997, my dad wanted us to stop showing & stop advertising in the breed magazine. I thought it would be the kiss of death. However, it was the best move that he ever made!!
8th, limit your other advertising, including traveling to shows. Showing cattle is a great advertising tool, but it is expensive. If possible, sell your cattle to others who will show them. Not only are they promoting themselves, they are promoting you too! Sure, if showing is something that you love, you can turn it into a vacation. Just pick & choose wisely which shows to attend & which shows not to attend.
9th, offer cattle services!! If you can fit... fit & get paid for it! If you have a trailer... occasionally haul cattle for others. If you can break calves... offer to do that. If you can trim hooves... start trimming hooves. If you can be creative & design Ad's... design Ad's for others. If you can design a website... offer to help a few others. If you can market... sell for others on commission. Basically, anything that you can do, that others either wont do or can't is an opportunity to help pay the bills.
10th... cull, cull, cull... breed all the bad stuff out of your herd. Cull for genetic defects, assisted births, slow breeding, hard doing, anything that is not sound, anything that doesn't stack up, bad dispostitions, etc.
11th... only keep docile cattle. Forget anything that is remotely wild, no matter how good it is. Wild cattle will never make you money, they will only cause problems & they can even cost you customers!!
Those are just a few things off the top of my head.
This thread is about to get really interesting in 3, 2, 1...