Editor's Notebook: Keep Sharing Your Ideas

December 13, 2008 09:48 AM

Last month, I asked you to share ways you are saving money and improving efficiencies around your farm or ranch. These can be in any area of your operation, such as machinery, labor, feed, grazing, animal health, nutrition, etc.

I have heard from many of you and have received some interesting ideas as well as some great commonsense reminders we should all be ready to use. Here's a sampling of what I've received so far:

Spread your fertilizer on pastures in the fall instead of the spring and then manage and/or stockpile the grass to graze in December, January and February.

Utilize management-intensive grazing as much as possible. It is the best way to make more and better-quality grass on the same acreage. One additional benefit is that with more pastures, you have a better chance of finding a place to retain your calves longer to hit the peak seasonal yearling markets.

Use your ATV as much as possible. They make good sprayers, seed spreaders, utility carts and many other add-on tools. In most cases, an ATV is a much more efficient use of your time and equipment than a tractor.

Do your homework and shop around for feed and hay from different sources to find the best deal.

Always test forages and hay before supplementing to see what nutrients are lacking.

Work with your sale barn owners to get their opinions on which week to market cattle. As with anything, some weeks are not as good as others. Putting enough cattle together for full loads helps a lot on freight. If you have a neighbor or family member near by, you can work with them to arrange a full load and save money on freight.

Wean calves earlier than normal, especially in dry years.

Go through your spring cowherd in July and see which cows need to go to town. Pull the cows off in early August and leave their calves in with the bunch to wean in the company of their buddies.

Put the cull cows across the fence from their calves (and the remaining herd) and let them dry up and put on a little bit of condition. Then try to get them to the sale barn in early September before the market does its fall plunge. If you don't get them sold in the first two weeks of September or so, you will have to wait until January or February of the coming year to get a fair price for them.

Keep those cost-saving tips coming and drop me an e-mail at kwatson@farmjournal.com to share your thoughts and ideas. And look for those ideas to appear on our Web site, www.beeftoday.com.

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