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9 strategies for profitable and safe cattle farming

9 strategies for profitable and safe cattle farming

By Blake Jackson

Economists predict a rosy outlook for the cattle industry in 2024 and beyond, with some of the best prices seen in a decade. However, instead of splurging on new trucks, experts advise farmers to invest strategically for long-term farm resilience. 

"This is a golden opportunity, but remember, the good times won't last forever," cautions Joe Horner, an agricultural economist at the University of Missouri Extension. He recommends prioritizing investments that boost profitability and prepare for inevitable downturns. 

Drought-Proofing: Missouri farmers know the sting of drought. Horner suggests a one-time investment in hay production or purchase, increasing stock by 50% and carrying it over year-round. This buffer can save you from scrambling for expensive hay or forced cattle sales during dry spells. 

Profit Boosters: Beyond dry weather prep, Horner offers nine savvy tips to maximize farm profits: 

  1. Controlled Breeding: Create a dedicated bull pasture and breeding season. Uniform calves fetch higher prices and simplify farm management. 
  2. Veterinary Wisdom: Invest in your herd's health. Follow vaccination schedules, consult a veterinarian, and test bull soundness – their expertise pays dividends. 
  3. Safe Workspaces: Upgrade your cattle-handling facilities for smoother operations and fewer injuries. Remember, your family's safety is priceless. 
  4. Smart Weaning: Wean calves before selling. Invest in proper fencing and reap the rewards of higher buyer interest. 
  5. Hay Insurance: Build and maintain that 50% extra hay inventory. It's a small price for peace of mind during drought and keeps you in control. 
  6. Soil Knowledge: Soil tests guide nutrient needs. Investing in inexpensive lime, for example, can significantly boost forage production. 
  7. Native Savvy: Incorporate native warm-season grasses into your pastures. These tough plants provide drought tolerance, reduced fertilizer dependence, improved summer growth, and potentially better herd reproduction. 
  8. Grazing Rotation: Consider rotational grazing systems. They ease drought impact, enhance soil health, increase forage production, and extend grazing season. Explore federal cost-share programs for implementation. 
  9. Risk Management: Insure against potential pitfalls. Programs like Pasture, Rangeland, Forage insurance (against drought) and Livestock Risk Protection (against low prices) offer valuable safety nets. Consult your trusted insurance agent for details. 

By prioritizing smart investments over impulse purchases, cattle farmers can capitalize on the coming boom and build a more resilient, profitable future for their farms. Remember, the key is to prepare for both sunny days and storms. 


Photo Credit: gettyimages-imaginegolf

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Categories: Missouri, Livestock, Beef Cattle, Dairy Cattle

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