Sort & Cull
How Do Cattlemen Make a Profit in Treacherous Conditions? Sometimes They Don't
There are many things that we could improve in our cattle and ranching businesses/operations. There are businesses that run cost-based analysis out the hundredth of a percentile, and we commonly run our numbers on the back of an envelope and round by hundreds of dollars. We don't like to account for cow-depreciation in business models, as it makes for slim margins, and we often chase our tail 365 days throughout the year, hoping we make a profit without knowing what that real break-even point is. While all these points are true, and things we thoroughly need to address and improve upon, we're also a breed that doesn't quit when the weather gets cold, when the snow blows in or when times get tough.
Just Monday morning, Dec. 19, I was on a phone call and the question was asked, "with windchills expected to be around 55 degrees below zero in parts of cow country this week, how do cattlemen ensure a profit in those type of treacherous conditions?" Truth be told, on weeks like that, they don't.
There will be some producers who leave their feed trucks run all night to ensure they have something that they can feed with the next morning -- regardless of how expensive fuel is. There will be some producers who feed two to three times as much hay as what's needed in one single feeding to ensure that their cows stay warm, and there will be producers who are guilt stricken with grief as they plow a trail out their cows, inch by inch, when they're needing to go miles.
The snowstorm that blew across the United States last week and the bone-chilling conditions that are expected this week in both the U.S. and Canada make life harder for us all, especially for cattlemen and women who are out in the elements trying to care for their stock the best they can. When some businesses run into operating at a loss, production stops, regardless of whatever is going on. But for those in agriculture, that statement couldn't be further from the truth. Regardless of how much hay gets fed, regardless of how much fuel gets used up, and with little to no sleep, cattlemen are there, being the stewards they were called to be.
ShayLe Stewart can be reached at ShayLe.Stewart@dtn.com
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