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  4. 1997
  5. May

Managing Your Operation

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QUICK! Before we forget, let's recall those memories while they are still painful. It seems like it was just last year that we were experiencing $5.00 corn, no wheat pasture, drought in Texas, and 50-cent calves. What did you learn and what will you do with what you learned? i.e. Do you employ the same management in good and bad times and hope that there are enough good times to cover the bad? You may not be able to control the market or the weather, but you, and you alone, make the decisions that determine the efficiency of your operation.

Decisions affecting your supplementation and hay program, cow herd, bull battery, marketing programs, and forage management are of paramount importance and deserve indepth thought. Many of us utilize one of the following decision making rationales: "that's the way we have always done it" or "that's the way Dad did it". Neither require much thought and even less planning. No pain - no gain!

I believe we will all agree that the cattle cycle has turned. How do you plan on capitalizing on these higher prices? If you are in the cow/calf sector, will you keep that old cow one more year? Will you purchase more bred heifers or retain more of your heifers than normal? Each of these practices will increase the size of your cowherd and enable you to sell more of these higher priced calves. That old cow and that bred heifer WILL sell a calf next year. The heifer that you raise and retain will not wean a calf for two years. How far through this "up" in the cattle market will we be by then?

Based on this and other considerations, should you raise or purchase your replacement females? This is a question that is not easily answered and is hotly contested. I have developed an Excel based spreadsheet, Replacement Heifers - How Much Do They Cost?, that is designed to calculate the cost of raising your own replacement heifers.

For your copy, on paper or diskette, contact Tresa Runyan or myself. Whether you raise or purchase your replacement heifers is your decision but, at least know what they are costing you. There are no guarantees, no free lunches, and no magic answers in the cattle business. Successful producers with prosperity and longevity think, study, and plan!

As for you stocker operators, enjoy the calves that you purchased in the summer and fall of 1996. They may be your last "home run" for some time to come.