By Keaton Dodd
You bought a ranch… Now what? Time to stock your cattle ranch!
Whether it’s been your lifelong dream, or just looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, investing in property in the form of a ranch has certainly become more popular in recent years.
And, now that you’ve purchased land, you’ll want to chose the best cattle to make the ranch sustainable and hopefully profitable!
We love the ranching lifestyle, love to see it growing and hope to see the trend continue.
With that, as a Brahman seedstock supplier, we want nothing but success for our customers and fellow cattleman in general.
We work with a lot of new ranchers, or first generation ranchers, so we wanted to go over a few things to consider and possible steps to take towards starting your own profitable and successful ranching venture.
Find the Cattle that Fit Your Environment
If you aren’t aware of what breed types are built for your area, and better fit your land, then you’re creating a challenging uphill battle for yourself that at times can be difficult to overcome.
The type of cattle that are successful on the gulf coast of the southern United States don’t typically align with the breed type of cattle that see the most success on the plains of Montana. So, you’ll want to stock your ranch with cattle that fit where you live.
Both areas are extremely useful for cattle production, we just see differences in temperature, humidity, forage type/availability, and management practices that make a different type of cattle prosper in one versus the other. This is where understanding livestock ecology really comes into play.
You probably wouldn’t want a herd full of Brahmans trying to withstand the winter elements in Montana, the same as you may need to avoid straight bred Bos taurus cattle in the heat and humidity we find along the gulf coast.
Years of dedicated mating decisions, as well as natural selection has helped design these cattle to fit the country they were developed for.
It will help you avoid both the financial heartache and logistical headache that comes with trying to manage cattle where they just aren’t meant to be.
Determine Your Stocking Rate
Learning to manage available forage resources to fit the number of head you intend to run is a must. Many would refer to this as stocking rate. A basic definition of stocking rate could be summed up as the concentration of grazing cattle on an established amount of land over a given period of time (season, year, etc.). Your stocking rate can be calculated as (Forage Yield (lb./acre) x (Utilization Rate (%)/100)) / AUM. AUM stands for Animal Unit Month, and for cattleman, an animal unit can be defined simply as a 1000lb cow with calf.
ExampleFor a 1,000 lb. cow, AUE = 1.0
(100 head) x (1.0 AUE) = 100 AUs
(Total Land Area) ÷ [(# AUs) x (grazing season)] 1,000 acres ÷ [(100 AUs) x (12 months)] = 0.83 acres per AUM or 10 acres per AUY
Calculating your stocking rate manually can take some training and a little bit of work, but if you would like a more general idea of estimated stocking rate, you could contact your local county agriculture extension agent and they can help point you towards average stocking rates they have traditionally seen in your area.
Evaluate Your Ranch Facilities
One thing that cannot be left out when considering a ranching venture would be the importance of functional facilities.
You can ask many people in the business and I am sure the answers would be similar, without the infrastructure to handle your cattle properly you will have a hard time making things work logistically, and you will probably stay frustrated for long enough that you won’t want to do it anymore anyways…… We don’t want that.
We suggest that before building you meet with other cattleman that operate a similar program to what you are trying to implement and see how they have done things.
There is usually some trial and error involved, but you will be thankful for the extra time spent planning and building things the right way and it’ll pay dividends in the long run.
You can look up our working facilities here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTzu0qLBj8E&t=126s.
We have found this system to work well for us, but it is important to find a set up that works for you and your outfit. Every ranch is different, and it is important to adapt and find what works best for you
Make a Ranch Plan
At BRC, we are big on spreadsheets and setting goals. I think it is key for building an operation with staying power, that you set budgets, establish annual goals for growth and sales, and continue to check progress while adjusting to changes when necessary.
At BRC, we are somewhat spreadsheet junkies… every aspect of our production is documented in a spreadsheet, and we try to keep up with them throughout the year. I know that the ranch work and being outdoors is the reason we are so passionate about the ranching industry in the first place but investing some desk time to keeping the books in order will help keep you on the path to success!
For more information on BRC and how we can help you develop your dream cow herd to go along with your dream ranch visit brcutrer.com.