I am in the process of restructuring our herd somewhat. For the past few years, the top 10% of my cows have been producing over 85% of my income. This does not seem to change whether it is a good year or bad year in the cattle business. With this in mind, I have been wondering why I spend as much time, as I do, chasing the other 90 % of the cows around this place. Our ET program is becoming more and more important and we now have 25 donor females, and another 8 to 10 coming on board when they enter production. ET is not for everyone, and it has forced me to get much better at marketing. ET can quickly put you in serious financial distress if you do not market properly.
We are presently in the process of reducing our cow herd to about 150 head of breeding age females. We will maintain a core purebred herd of approx 75 cows and heifers. Our donor herd of females will be maintained at about 25 to 30 head. We normally flush each donor for a full year then put them back in calf for a natural calf.( We have found that if we rest them for at least 2 months between flushes, they will flush good for 4 to 6 flushes. There is a big difference in donors, in how they respond. I have one donor, who has now been flushed for almost 6 years without having a natural calf. She also shows no signs of ever being flushed. )We will keep an additional 50 cows which will be used as recips. If I could find a good co-operator herd, I would reduce the number of recips as well. This all means that about 80 head will be sold over the next few months.I would like to reduce our herd even more, in the next few years and concentrate more on quality than quantity. I think quality is going to become even more important in the near future as we all sort our ways through this financial and economic mess that the world finds itself in right now. If there is one thing I have learned in this business, it is that a few good ones, handled and promoted properly, will retain their value in any market conditions.