Is the price too high
With the price of cattle now, is it impossible to start a small herd and be profitable? Currently I have an off the farm job that pays extremely well, but I was wanting to become a full time farmer/herdsman. I've got access to approximately 700 acres of grass with 5 wire fence that is only 5 to 10 years old. When CRP contracts expire, I will have about another 300 acres if it is not rebid. My off the farm job averages about 50-55 hours per week. My parents retired completely from the farm and I am share cropping all there cultivated ground and they are renting all the grass to a neighboring producer. Looking back, I probably should have bought all or some of there herd a year ago when they liquidated, but hind sight is 20/20. With their acres and mine, I farm approximately 1000 acres of ground. Any advice is greatly appreciated.
Re: Is the price too high
My advice is if you are going to have a lot of cattle, working 55 hours a week off the farm isn't going to work. My advice would be to try to find 5 to 9 year old cows and go from there. Young cows and bred heifers are way too much right now. So buy the older cows, and be proactive in culling as you build equity. Also don't be afraid to keep the cows if they are still producing, my dad would keep cows that were 14 or 15 years old, I never would and quite frankly it's been a mistake at times. If they are putting on flesh and raising quality calves don't sweat it. I now think I have a top notch herd, but I could of had it sooner by keeping cows a little longer and getting in a better cash situation. My herd is basically pure bred herefords, angus, and angus/hereford cross,(black baldy) but there is no reason to start that way, purebreds are way to spendy now, go find yourself some good cows and work hard at being a caretaker and they will take care of you. PS I admire the fact that you farm 1000 acres and still work 50 hours a week off the farm, you must be a dang hard worker.
Re: Is the price too high
I appreciate the compliment, makes farming look pretty easy when you don't need to make a living at it and you can put all your profit right back into the operation. I am using the extra income right now to update some equipment, I am building a line up that will enable me to convert to notill. I am also buying larger equipment that I need right now, but a lot of ground will becoming available in the next few years due to retiring neighbors. Oh and by the way, I am doing this debt free, saving money and paying cash, really helps when you are dealing with the salesman too. That would be the same way I would build my cow herd. I was considering 10 to 15 head of 5 to 7 year olds at first and try to expand from there. I also agree with you, I will not have a large herd while working those kind of hours. Doing this will also not put one of the neighbors, who is currently renting all of my parents grass, short on pasture. Once I get a small herd started I will approach him with my plan so he can make arrangements to find additional grass elsewhere. I learned a long time ago that it is better to work with people than to make them your enemies.