Sort & Cull

It's Time to Sharpen Your Pencil

ShayLe Stewart
By  ShayLe Stewart , DTN Livestock Analyst
As most cattlemen head into their slower months, now would be a great time to meticulously analyze the cattle market, beef industry and your own operation. (DTN photo by ShayLe Stewart)

This past week, my husband and I drove across Wyoming to northcentral Nebraska and the windshield time did me wonders. Highway 20 exhibits some of the best cow-country and the sandhills are truly a land of their own -- rolling with luscious grass and lined with hardworking cows.

But while driving across Nebraska and southern Wyoming, 2020 seemed to lay across the land. The farther east we got, the more grass there was, but it was apparent that western Nebraska and most evidently southern Wyoming are dry, dry, dry! You'd expect to see pastures grazed at this point in the year and for the countryside to be desperate for a drink of rain, but it's almost like the land is yearning for the same gulp of hope that cattlemen are looking for.

As we continue to stumble through the remainder of 2020, I encourage each of you to take a thorough look at the markets, at the beef industry and at your own operations during these slower months. A mentor of mine coined the phrase, "markets work best when its participants are active and informed," and I don't think there is a truer sentiment for today's current state.

With the curveballs that have been thrown our away, it's vital that we as cattlemen study this marketplace, determine what are facts and what is meaningless chatter, and try to understand the weeks and months to come. It's vital that we look at our operations and ask ourselves the tough questions and answer truthfully.

I do believe that better days are on the horizon for the cattle industry, but we cannot be complacent -- we can personally make changes to our own operations to hopefully help shield us from unforeseen turmoil that can arise in volatile markets.

As we prepare for tax season and print off those profit/loss summaries and expense sheets that can be brutally painful, we can't avoid them. It's time we dive deep into the fine details and assess where changes can be made.

Tune into this week's Cattle Market News Update on the DTN/Progressive Farmer Facebook Page, or click the link below:…

ShayLe Stewart can be reached at


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