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Thrive in high cattle prices - manage smartly

Thrive in high cattle prices - manage smartly

By Blake Jackson

Cattle producers are celebrating record-high prices, with forecasts predicting continued prosperity for a few years. While this is fantastic news, University of Missouri Extension's Eric Meusch cautions against complacency. Here's why smart management is crucial even in a boom market.

High Prices Don't Excuse Poor Practices

While high prices mean bigger profits, they also amplify the impact of mistakes. Don't let the good times distract you from the fundamentals of good cattle management. Here's how to maximize your gains:

Cull the Herd: The "Golden Rule" of cattle production: a cow should calve annually, on time. Cows requiring extra care or feed become a burden in the long run. With strong cow prices, it's the perfect opportunity to cull unproductive animals and focus on your high performers.

Wean and Work Calves Properly: Buyers seek healthy, well-prepared calves. Castration, vaccination, and proper weaning minimize stress and illness during the transition to backgrounding or feedlots. Don't skip these steps just because calf prices are high – you'll get a better price for a healthier animal.

Manage Inputs Wisely: Feed, fertilizer, and equipment all become pricier alongside cattle. While higher margins allow for increased spending, remember these costs likely won't decrease with future price fluctuations. Hay is a prime example – expensive now but justified by high calf prices. However, when calf prices drop, hay might remain costly. Invest in pasture and grazing management to reduce hay dependence.

Invest Strategically: New equipment might be tempting but prioritize investments that enhance future productivity. Consider infrastructure improvements, especially those that reduce labor needs, like better fencing, handling facilities, and storage. Additionally, focus on soil fertility and pasture quality for long-term benefits. Investing in superior genetics now, through a better bull, will continue to pay off when prices eventually dip.

Planning for the Future

The cattle cycle is known for its ups and downs. While everyone hopes for continued high prices, it's wise to prepare for leaner times. Maximize current profits while implementing strategies that ensure your herd thrives regardless of market fluctuations. Remember, good management is key to success in both boom-and-bust periods.

Photo Credit: gettyimages-vwalakte

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Categories: Missouri, Livestock, Dairy Cattle

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