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Is Where to Cut Costs the Right Question?

By   /  April 24, 2017  /  Comments Off on Is Where to Cut Costs the Right Question?

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Enhance Your Grazing Knowledge: This was the title of a grazing conference that I had the opportunity to be a part of on Mar. 16 and 17. This conference was sponsored by the Arkansas Grazing Lands Coalition and due to the demand was held in two locations. Thursday the 16th we were at Arkansas Tech University’s Ozark Campus and on Friday the 17th we were at the U of A Community College Campus in Hope. A lot of driving in a short time but the attendance on both days made it all worthwhile.

There were seven presentations in total each day, two on grazing practices, one on Marketing, one on a grant proposal and three on the business side of our livestock operations.

The most interesting for me was given by Wes Tucker, Agriculture Business Specialist, University of Missouri Extension called, “Calculating Your Real Cost of Production – Can You Survive Lower Prices?”

According to most experts, cattle prices have not yet reached the bottom. Again, according to most experts, the main remedy available to those of us who are trying to make a profit is to cut production costs. The question then becomes what and where to cut.

But is this the right question?

Maybe the question should be, “Are we doing enough to utilize the resources available to us?”

Now I know that this may upset some folks, but on our place we do not use mob grazing to the extent that we allow land to be without livestock for long periods of time. It is not practical or profitable for us to let a piece ground stand empty of livestock any longer than it takes for the grass to recover from the last grazing. It is possible, without question, to increase the stocking density with improved grazing management and it has worked very well for us. It makes perfect sense to us that the more grass we grow the better it will be for us only if we get the full use of that grass. It also makes perfect sense to us that the more the grass is used the lower the production costs.

In our part of the world (Louisiana) it is a common practice to give up the last 30 or 40 days of grazing ryegrass to allow the grass to grow to the height that is desired to make hay. If the cow days given up were to be calculated I believe it would surprise some folks just how many days of grazing they are giving up for a few rolls of hay.  Growing ryegrass will do any class of livestock more good than the best hay that can be put up down here. And it will always be cheaper to let the cattle harvest the grass than it will ever be to cut it and haul it to them.

It cannot be argued that there are places that all of us can cut costs. But before we go on some cost cutting rampage it may be more beneficial for all of us to take a hard look at what we are doing and concentrate on getting the most return on every dollar spent.

What do you think?

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  • Published: 6 months ago on April 24, 2017
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  • Last Modified: April 24, 2017 @ 10:23 pm
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About the author

My name is Don Ashford and my wife is Betty and we live in Ethel, LA. It would be impossible for me to write a bio about myself without including Betty in it. We have been together since high school. I was in the senior class of 1955 and she was in the class of 1957. Do the math. We have raised cattle since 1959 except for a little time that I spent with Uncle Sam. We have grazed stockers, owned several cow- calf herds and custom grazed cattle for other folks. I worked as a pipefitter for more than 25 years. Until we went into the dairy business in 1977 we were as most people down here part-timers or week-end ranchers. Later after we had learned enough about MIG to talk about it so that it would be understood by others we put together a pasture-walk group to introduce it to our friends and neighbors. We belong to more farm groups then we probably should but we get great joy working with other people. What makes us most proud are our son and daughter, our 5 grandkids and our 7 great-grand kids. It has been a hell of a trip so far, but we are not done yet.

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