Custom Grazing: Why I Got In

To a lot of farmers, especially startup farmers, the idea of custom grazing or livestock boarding sounds like a silver bullet. “Getting paid to raise someone else’s livestock as an independent contractor? Sign me up!” I custom grazed for my first five years in the grassfed beef business. This year I switched to developing owned heifers on grass. Custom grazing can be a lucrative opportunity for some graziers and herd owners, but it won’t work for everyone. It works for some as a long-term enterprise, and for others, as a short-term step toward a different goal. Benefits of Custom Grazing For Graziers I got into the custom grazing business for the same reasons that many young farmers do. A grazier can participate in the grass-based livestock industry without needing to spend or borrow a huge amount of money to buy animals. Revenue comes in on a regular basis instead of once a year. Custom grazed herds can be raised on owned or leased land, for all or part of the year. In some cases, crop and hay farmers can add value to what they grow by feeding it to custom livestock. Putting custom herds out on crop residues or cover crops can generate revenue where otherwise there would be expense or wasted opportunity for income. Farmers who specialize in different segments of production can work together to create a scaled, cooperative business. You can benefit from the advantages the other person has, fix the weak links in each other’s operations, and make farm management s

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