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Dealing with Drought
Grass has been growing two feet tall for a year or two, then it happens -- the blessed rain of heaven stops -- stops dead. Your pasture is over grazed with too many cattle and quickly the grass is gone. It was not expected -- the drought slipped up on you. There are a number of quick fixes or temporary fixes, but nothing is easy or economical. Here are some cheap, costly, long term, short term, good or bad things to do. Some may have to be done pronto. Some you have some time to prepare.
The great World Champion Boxer, Jack Dempsey, when ask what is the most important thing for a boxer, said, "Always be ready to fight another round." To a rancher, the answer may be, always have fresh grass to turn the herd into.
The attached article lists 58 points that can be used to lease fresh grass. I hope this article will help my cattle friends to weather the drought, or get ready in case there is one headed your way.
-- Darol Dickinson, Dickinson Cattle Co, Barnesville, Ohio.
TO BUILD A RANCH by Darol Dickinson, 3-31-11
Young people who dream of being Hoss Cartwright or John Wayne may want to own a ranch extending as far as the eye can see, but they don't live in an 1880 opportunity. Today, unless one inherits wealth or ranch land, the only way to start a valid cattle business is with leased land. However, that isn't hard. Many have done it. It still works with a good business plan. It is a way to grow a ranch with little or no borrowed money, and that is very important.
Leasing of grazing land is a way to develop profitable herd numbers with no land purchase, thereby maximizing livestock income and minimizing land purchase risks and cost at the same time. Over a period of years, the profit from registered Texas Longhorn cattle will buy your own ranch.
An ideal plan is to have a permanent owned headquarters for branding, corrals, barns, tool shed, working and feeding pens. Then, have lease pastures to inventory larger herd numbers. Leasing several different pastures minimizes the risk of losing a main pasture. A landowner may pass away or sell property. At that time it is a safety net to lease a half dozen different properties so the whole business is not in jeopardy. Leases located in different areas may provide security against drought by having grass in different parts of the county.
Many good grasslands for ranching are priced too high for cattle. Land priced at $4000 per acre may be available at $0.50 to $35 per acre for an annual grazing lease. The price of a grazing lease will vary in different areas. In Arizona it might cost $0.50 per acre and require 300 acres, a cost of $150 per cow per year. In Iowa it may cost $35 per acre and require 3 acres per cow per year, at a cost of $105. A lease per year, per cow, should always be under $200. The combination of deeded or owned land and leased land is a secure investment blend.
Here are 58 points for a RANCH BUILDING PLAN that are proven to work. Use this for a check list to expand your herd and earn the funds to build your own Ponderosa in the future.
1. Who has Unused Land?
2. Locating Pastures to Lease
3. Problem Solving ?
4. Negotiations (points to present land owners for their good)
5. Grazing Agreements/Contracts
6. Leasing Risks/Cost Considerations
7. Lease methods
8. Maintaining Good Relations with Landlords
9. Above & Beyond
10. Payment Schedule
Many parcels that have been used for livestock grazing become available for new lease owners. A poor cattle manager will grub the good grasses to the ground trying to harvest the last dollar from their lease. When new land is leased, sometimes it has been previously trashed. Under this scenario, a contract of lease can be negotiated to begin in the distant future, allowing a season of grass growth recovery. Damage by the previous lessee is not carried over as an expense to the new lessee.
As cattle and land become more valuable there will be a division. There will be land owners and there will be livestock producers. Most likely these will not be the same people. The person who owns valuable land may not want to break ice, brand cattle or castrate calves. The cowboy who can manage cattle for profit may not be able to own enough land to run a profitable sized herd. At this point the leasing of ranch land is a win-win partnership for both. As the USA continues the 20-year decline in beef production, it will become patriotic to produce quality lean beef for human consumption. It strengthens the nation not to depend on imports for family food.
Projections reveal that livestock grain feed availability will decline due to the increased price paid for human grain consumption in the US and abroad. As all cattle switch to dependency on grass, browse, cactus and low quality fiber, the Texas Longhorn breed will become far more profitable.
The miracle will be to grow human consumable food without feeding human consumable food to meat animals. That fact, in the next few years, will make the Texas Longhorn the true hero over all meat animals.
Build a ranch.....pronto! Get your plan ready!
Registered Texas Longhorns since 1967
DCCI~~~ Purveyor of “one owner” quality Cattle.
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