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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I think Ive asked this question already, but with limited information. Im not for sure, but I think the general consensus was no, the calf cheque would be less than the payment.

However, given that the average profit margin per calf is around 250$ (I assume more right now with over 200$/hw), that would mean on a 200 acre tract, with 80 cows, id have a 20k calf profit. Average pasture in 2013 was 1200$, so with a beginning farmers loan from goverment, and private lenders, I should get below 3% interest. Roughly 16-17k a year in payments. Of course 3k a year isnt enough to live off of, but thats why I am working my rear off to get dual majors in both Ag tech and plant sciences so I can get a decent job and farm on the side. I should be able to get any job that I would be interested in with my Ag systems/tech major in a couple years due to being ahead from high school college coursework.

Maybe Im missing something, but I think it seems that it would at least be feasible. Now given that I dont currently have 80 cows to shove on the property, Id have the loan payments for more cattle as well, but lets just assume that I already have them...Im sure by the time this goes through, Ill have that kind of capital built up.

Main reason I got to thinking about this is (1) the property is owned by a relative and Dad or I have first pick at it if its like all the other properties, and (2), I recently had a chance to pick up 30 cows and rent all the pasture and hay land they were requiring due to an older farmer getting out, but I didnt know about them quick enough and somebody beat me to it. Made me a little more confident at least, however, being that I had to do quite a bit of research to try and get it to work. I woulda had to be cosigned since Ive always payed cash for everything and have no credit, but I could of went 50/50 partnership with Dad too so it wouldn't have made much of a difference.

I may be blabbering alot, but its sure nice to have a bit of advice from you experienced guys. Im not going to get that very much from people around here, given that its competition for everything cattle related.
 

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Pastures profitable if you have 30 inch (750 mm)plus rainfall evenly spread over the calendar year.

4 main factors in any profitability equation
Rain fall
soil
quality stock
most of all = the right operator

Always see one neighbor going ahead and the other going backwards.
one in work clothes and the truck and one in cowboy clothes and the car.

But seriously we found dual purpose cropping added a third to our stock numbers and having them eating crop turns out quality offspring. If we get a good season and lock the crops up before spring we can yield 1.5 ton to the acre without to much trouble.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
i have over 2000 acres of pasture for 150 cows, maybe your grass grows quicker, but if you can put 80 cows on 200 acres for the grazing season i think i might move south and be your neighbor.
Phew, thats a lot. Ill turn around, and say Ill never move north...but yea, 2.5 acres is about what most people put their cows on and the soil isn't terrible. Its got some clay, but is otherwise fairly clean and thats just the pasture side of things. My area averages around 40 inches a year of precip a year, including snow. Snow isn't ever very heavy though, and 11 inches of snow is 1 inch of rain or roughly so.

Some people get away with a couple acres and less for their cows due to higher fert. rates and substitutes, but 2.5-3 is a safe figuring number. We currently run 18 cow/calf pairs with a bull on 40 acres and it works out, but if we had a drought, we couldn't handle it. Will have quite a bit more reclaimed pasture this coming here though, so thatll help.
 

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Phew, thats a lot. Ill turn around, and say Ill never move north...but yea, 2.5 acres is about what most people put their cows on and the soil isn't terrible. Its got some clay, but is otherwise fairly clean and thats just the pasture side of things. My area averages around 40 inches a year of precip a year, including snow. Snow isn't ever very heavy though, and 11 inches of snow is 1 inch of rain or roughly so.

Some people get away with a couple acres and less for their cows due to higher fert. rates and substitutes, but 2.5-3 is a safe figuring number. We currently run 18 cow/calf pairs with a bull on 40 acres and it works out, but if we had a drought, we couldn't handle it. Will have quite a bit more reclaimed pasture this coming here though, so thatll help.
Tame grass? How big paddocks? How often rotated? Cow/calf?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Tame grass? How big paddocks? How often rotated? Cow/calf?
Majority grass around here is tall fescue, with managed areas (pastures...) usually containing a mix of usually several varieties of clover, brome, timothy, and tall fescue. Sometimes hairy vetch (I think, maybe its crown, one of them isn't really fit for cattle to eat). We dont really do the paddock style rotation really, but more just moving cattle to what best suits. That might be across the fence, or several miles away. Maybe 2 moves a year at the rate we are at?

Cow/calf operation. Not many yet, as we are just starting after getting out of hogs a couple years ago (terrible timing right? But might have lost more than I cared too staying with them)
 

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2.5 acres/cow seems a bit over crowded to me, but you get a bit more rain than I do here in SW Oklahoma. I think a good rate would be around 3-4 acres/cow, depending on the pasture quality and cow size. But, you may be able to make it work in your area with good rains. My dad and I have about 850 cows of various sizes that occupy various pasture and wheat land, so there are many ways to make things work.
Land wise, good pasture land is always a good purchase I think. I'd love to find 200 acres of high quality grassland I could pick up, and I'd gladly pay 12-1300/acre for it.
 

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Here guys run around 4 acres per pair, if well stocked and taken care of and rotated properly. Near the forest fringe, the rainfall is abundant and the land is cheap. Like 300 dollar an acre cheap. A quarter sold for 60 000 last year, and guys around that area thought that was really, really high.

So yes, there are areas where you can still buy cheap land, and at these cattle prices, make it pay its own way...

Sound too god to be true? Well, like a lot of things, there are issues with the area. Wolves, bears, brutal winters, long feed period, extreme isolation from population and cities..
 

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we are currently running 250 breeders with 90% calf at foot plus 5500 merino sheep (half of them will lamb each winter) on 2500 acres and usually have 300 acres shut up for crops from august till January. We also shut up 50 to 100 acres for hay from july to November.
But around here $1100 per acre is bloody cheap, would probably average $1500 or over $2000 for smaller basalt blocks say 200 or 300 acres.

I said it to Don the other day " everybody's back yard is different"
 

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LRShooter, looks like your pasture pencils out better then mine, and i have to feed hay close to half the year. i wish you the best of luck in your ranching startup, but up here the last 12 years were pretty hard on most cattlemen, gets a little discouraging when flipping burgers is more profitable. this fall things went a lot better then most lets see what 2015 brings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
LRShooter, looks like your pasture pencils out better then mine, and i have to feed hay close to half the year. i wish you the best of luck in your ranching startup, but up here the last 12 years were pretty hard on most cattlemen, gets a little discouraging when flipping burgers is more profitable. this fall things went a lot better then most lets see what 2015 brings.
Well, I figure high costs, low gross, and I usually end up happier in the end with more than expected. Thats they way I was with my farrow to finish before I got out, and things just go better for me. But ill still be needing a job thats paying 50-60k a year. My name is out there, I just need to go advertise it for sale...if that makes any sense.

Pasture around here does do quite a bit better, but it can also be farmed. Our soils aren't great, but they aren't super poor either. This makes a lot of the pasture fairly fertile and even farmable if its got structures. We turned a lot of pastures into fields the past few years, and are going back to pasture now with Brome, timothy, fescue, clover combinations. Im really hoping I can aquire some pasture that I have my eye on, rent that is, so I can bring my numbers up a couple. Its not a lot, but college has to come first so I can only go so fast.
 

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If you can find pasture in your area for $1300/acre, you better buy all you can find. You really need to find a local agricultural realtor or auctioneer and look at all the pasture that has sold in the last year.

I expect that will be $3,000+/acre pastures.

I'm 200 miles west of you and I couldn't buy pasture for $2,000/acre with junk fences, 1/2 cedar trees, and grubbed out grass.

For those of you questioning his carrying capacity, its amazing what 40" rain/year will do for a pasture.
 

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I came from western Nebraska and go to college in Lincoln, so I understand the shock that some on here have when your saying 2.5 acres per pair and I understand why you can do 2.5 acres per cow, I have alot of friends from eastern Nebraska that think its crazy we have to have 15 acres per pair in the same state, but moving east on our continent a few hundred miles sure does make a **** of a difference in rainfall and topsoil, that's just how it is, the areas are many times too different to equally compare.

Now as far as the investment while in college I say go for it. I am majoring in Mechanized Systems management, much like your ag systems major I'm assuming, with a minor in agronomy. Ill be graduating in a year and returning home to take over the farming side of our operation. Last spring I bought a combine and header and took on a pretty substantial 5 year loan. My reasoning for doing so is that I would be guaranteed to have enough acres to cut in the summer for my dad to make my payments on a normal year, and any custom I can pick up is extra. I also run a couple pairs of my own on pasture ground that I rent which helps everything cash flow especially this year. When I am out of college I have the combine I need for my operation half paid off and I can work on investing money into operating expenses and other equipment. My situation, which I think is very comparable to yours, offers a head start to a career in agriculture and if you know that's where you want to be, why not get started now? I think you need to figure out which one of your scenarios on the land and cattle will put you farthest ahead when your out of college and figure out how big of a loan you can swing and have a plan to make your payments. With a good plan followed by a good back up plan you will be fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I came from western Nebraska and go to college in Lincoln, so I understand the shock that some on here have when your saying 2.5 acres per pair and I understand why you can do 2.5 acres per cow, I have alot of friends from eastern Nebraska that think its crazy we have to have 15 acres per pair in the same state, but moving east on our continent a few hundred miles sure does make a **** of a difference in rainfall and topsoil, that's just how it is, the areas are many times too different to equally compare.

Now as far as the investment while in college I say go for it. I am majoring in Mechanized Systems management, much like your ag systems major I'm assuming, with a minor in agronomy. Ill be graduating in a year and returning home to take over the farming side of our operation. Last spring I bought a combine and header and took on a pretty substantial 5 year loan. My reasoning for doing so is that I would be guaranteed to have enough acres to cut in the summer for my dad to make my payments on a normal year, and any custom I can pick up is extra. I also run a couple pairs of my own on pasture ground that I rent which helps everything cash flow especially this year. When I am out of college I have the combine I need for my operation half paid off and I can work on investing money into operating expenses and other equipment. My situation, which I think is very comparable to yours, offers a head start to a career in agriculture and if you know that's where you want to be, why not get started now? I think you need to figure out which one of your scenarios on the land and cattle will put you farthest ahead when your out of college and figure out how big of a loan you can swing and have a plan to make your payments. With a good plan followed by a good back up plan you will be fine.
Exactly! Only thing is that I am probably more behind than you were at this point. Simply wasn't thinking about my future much until a couple years ago. I just labored, had a farrow-finish swine operation, and got out of them and got into cattle before I lost my tail. But i never really pushed it, now I am. Should be getting a major in both Ag systems and agronomy with an emphasis in Crop management. Puts me in a good position to get most any job I want to supplement farming. We dont farm enough for me to just "take over," so I need to work my way to that point with a job paying dividends of at least 40-50k a year. Its not realistic to do everything, but its possible to do enough to be successful.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
If you can find pasture in your area for $1300/acre, you better buy all you can find. You really need to find a local agricultural realtor or auctioneer and look at all the pasture that has sold in the last year.

I expect that will be $3,000+/acre pastures.

I'm 200 miles west of you and I couldn't buy pasture for $2,000/acre with junk fences, 1/2 cedar trees, and grubbed out grass.

For those of you questioning his carrying capacity, its amazing what 40" rain/year will do for a pasture.
That was ave. pasture in 2013, which isnt that realistic. Mid to southern missouri really drags down pasture value averages. Most stuff around here is roughly 2000 when I checked with locals. The higher value stuff is usually farmed, even if it shouldn't be.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I think cattle have no where to go but lower in price over the next five years but maybe i am wrong
Well, in all honesty, I hope they do. For those starting up, we need lower cattle prices to get in. Sure, itll be a hit for me on the cattle I have now, but I feel that I would be better off long term. Everything goes in cycles, so we gotta go down sometime.
 
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