Profitable low-input livestock production

Livestock producers from all over Michigan came to hear Kit Pharo talk about Profitable Low Input, Cow/Calf Production.

Low input is a buzz phrase that you hear often these days, but how many really know what that means? The answer can be complicated. It depends on your farm or ranches situation—what goals you have, and what your market is. However, each producer needs to evaluate their farm or ranch, and determine if there are inputs that can be eliminated.

On March, 30, more than 80 farmers and ranchers from Michigan and Ohio were in Gladwin to hear Kit Pharo from Pharo Cattle Company talk about low-input, sustainable cow/calf production. Pharo has more than 25 years of experience in the ranching business, and was able to keep the crowd on their toes for four hours of discussion. Many of the comments from the crowd were positive, and many thought that the information presented could be used in their operations.

The costs of inputs is something that each of us as producers needs to pay close attention to. One of the first points of the day, was this equation:

profit = income (production x market value) – expenses

Simple enough, right? However, increasing profit isn’t as simple as increasing production. Most of us are very good at production, it’s the way that we are programmed to think. It’s very easy to see the increase in production, but not so easy to see how to reduce inputs, i.e. costs. You can easily see that weaning weights have increased, but what does that really mean? Long term, it’s something that you need to watch, usually an increase in weaning weights, means an increase in cow size if the heifers are kept for replacements.

Pharo also discussed matching cow size with the resources you have on your farm or ranch. Most believe that winter-feeding costs are the biggest expense on a cow/calf operation, so one can assume that by lowering that cost, you could increase your profit. One of the best ways to lower feeding costs is to decrease the amount of harvested or stored feeds, and increase the time spent grazing. To learn more about increasing grazing, contact Jerry Lindquist,MSU Extension grazing educator.

Please consider attending “How to of Grass Finishing” on April 27, 2011. The featured speaker of that program will be Jim Gerrish, from American GrazingLand Services LLC. For more information on this program, contact Dr. Jason Rowntree.

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