My husband is tired of the trucking industry and wants to farm full time.
Does anyone have their success story to share? Did you finally just take the leap and do it?
We have 84 head of beef cows and hope to get to 100-125 for him to farm most of the time at home and spend only a couple of days on the road in the truck... training wheels, I guess - until he knows we can make it without the truck. He wants to raise beef cattle and also do crops and hay.
He has so many scenarios in his head, so that's why I am posing this question...
Lets say he can make $60,000 trucking. IF you can make $200/head for 600# calves you'll need 300 cow/calf pairs to sell to be even gross. Call it 400 cows to cover replacements and reproductive failure. I think you have to have a vision of how you get to commercial size. We crop farm and have day jobs. A good friend in Iowa works off farm and his wife runs the cattle herd of 150 head. They built he herd up over 10 years. I think he should go for it. If farming doesnt work out there is high demand for good truck drivers and he can go back. What you cant get back is time.
We have been getting between $600-$900 per calf average at auction over the past 4 years we have been farming. I told him he needs to do it all or nothing. We're too big to have one foot in it and one foot out.
Or were you meaning that $200/ 600# calf PROFIT?
I would highly recommend going all-in. I have been starting businesses since I was 16 and after many losses and many wins, the one thing that holds true for each is that the winners are ones I jumped into with both feet. I think it is also critical to keep an open mind as far as production practices, technology and the like are concerned. It blows my mind how many folks go into farming with a rigid mindset about what the right way to do things is and graze right over boat loads of opportunity and $ due to an innate resistance to change. My pop leased me 150 ac of cropland to manage the season of my 16th birthday. I am 21 years old now and manage and lease 1340 acres of cropland and a little more than 700 of hay in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Colorado. I have quickly learned that farming can be systematically automated just like any other business. Technology is king and fertility is the queen.Keep an open mind and don't be afraid to be different. Nobody that just fell in line and followed a pattern of 'good-enough or average' ever won big, right? All that said, I would suggest that if he wants it- go for it and go for it big. If you need any marketing contacts, tech referrals or really any advice on growing your op I love working with start-up farms. Feel free to contact me at : email@example.com. Good Luck!
Can we adopt you? ;)
Ha! Depending on what day (or hour) it is, I am sure Mom would be glad to turn over all claims of me as her son. No no, seriously though, keep me updated on how the decision-making process is going. Are you guys aiming toward doing grass-fed or conventional beef?
Thinking of doing both haylage and corn silage in the winter months, but we sell most of our calves as fedder calves. We only finish out a few. So more conventional....
Got it. Could have saved you some typing if I had read above.
Haven't started a feeder op myself, but I have helped with tech for some & seems like they can be really fun. Do you use backtrack-data-systems to track buyers history of genetic characteristic purchases and when and where they make the biggest buys most? Are you considering coordinating with a feedlot op (as a separate entity of course for tax purposes)?
I apologize for asking so many questions. I love this stuff.
Right now we sell at the livestock auction. We would love to sell direct to a buyer and cut out the middle man but don't know how to go about that.
Oh No worries. There are pretty cool systems for both. We have some computer science guys who are brilliant with marketing approaches - - they track buyers ( whether it be auction or "on the farm") and view every detail of their often times very predictable load purchases. When I get to the office tomorrow afternoon, I will see what kind of buyer data they can scope out for your area. East Central or Rich Prairie would be the auction locations, right?
East Central Livestock and Rock Creek (Heidelberger Auctions) - if that is what you meant?
Yes ma'am. Ran out of time to give an exact contact recommendation. Will continue to work on it for ya. Today we narrowed down to 15-20 buyers that are coming in to your locations from the north with a good % of predictability in regards to frame and genetic characteristic buys during certain months. Once narrowed down further, the key would be adjusting to their predictable high price buying months(which shows when they need the most per the coordination of their own operation to packer). I see lots of opportunities for you to find convenient direct buyers already. The goal of course is to save you the 3% and transportation expenses using auction, which seems to be very possible as there are 15-20 buyers (leaving with nice loads that have consistent characteristics year in-year out) transporting from locations at a farther distance from the auctions they most often use than to Mille Lacs County area. Of course, what that means is by dropping your price say 1%( so you still save 2%+transportation costs), you have a better deal for them by cutting sell price and transportation costs. Will keep working on it for you to find the exact timing and characteristics of the buys they make, so you could pick best possible match for what your stockers typically would fit into. At that point you will have an easy approach to direct buyer because you already know what they want and are saving them money. Very few buyers turn down extra $ and private business vs. auctions. Hopefully, direct buyer options could make your husbands decision easier, so we will keep working to help!