RANCH MUSINGS: The big test and how do we prepare for it?

RANCH MUSINGS: The big test and how do we prepare for it?

Fall is the time when ranchers market most of their production

David Zirnhelt

Special to the Tribune/Advisor

Fall is the time when ranchers market most of their production.

That’s when the cows come home with their calves unless you don’t have open range on public land, and then they are right there at hand ready to be sorted for sale.

You can hold some animals over the winter if you have or can afford to buy feed you don’t have.

Then you can hope for more profitable gain on those animals.

But the real determinant of your success which is tested this time of year is how many cows bring home a calf which you want to sell.

Some people think the bigger the calf, the better, and it is about the production of a maximum numbers of pounds but really it is the cost of the pound that matters.

We have run out of “preparation” time for this year’s “exam” on the calf production.

Not much we can do but try to bring in the last stragglers and get them on a truck to the sales yard.

We also have to see which cows are pregnant so we can ship the “opens” that is the ones that are not going to calve next year.

Some analysts say that any calf is better that no calf which means that cows that don’t bring home a calf needs to be assessed for the reason.

Was it predation? Was there a disease? Were the calves’ mothers vaccinated? Was the feed on pasture and range adequate? Did the calf get sufficient colostrum at birth to build the immune system?

Do we really have the right cows for the environment we have to keep the cow in?

It is complicated and as husbanders we have to take everything into consideration and make decisions about which cows to keep and which to sell?

Read More: RANCH MUSINGS: Agriculture Days – or is it Daze?

Sometimes a cow that is close to the end of her time as a mother will bring home a smaller calf than normal so it just might be time to sell her or we risk losing her and/or the next calf.

In the end, we are judged by the buyers of our product whether we sell into the wholesale market or finish them and direct market to consumers.

We are graded on what people are willing to pay for the product.

Because there is an abundance of meat raised in the rural areas, we are price takers, not price setters, therefore to make money in our business we have to watch our costs of production.

It had been said by some analysts that it is not the price we are paid but the cost of producing the product which fetches the price we get that matters.

From sale to sale we don’t know what the market will be like, but if the price drops then we can hope we had the foresight to hedge our bets and purchase price insurance.

The premiums for that insurance (paid in the spring) can cost $20-$30 per head.

In a falling market this might make a big difference to the bottom line on this year’s sales.

At this point of selling we are judged or graded on our performance, or rather the performance of the herd we manage.

We can say the market is not fair. But if we do a little honest self- evaluation, we can always try to do better, this winter and next summer in the lead up to the Big Test next year.

Investing in some “professional development” might just help in the preparation for that next “test.”

David Zirnhelt is a rancher and member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association. He is also chair of the Advisory Committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at TRU.

Just Posted

As a former reporter and editor at the Tribune, Diana French carries on sharing her ideas through her weekly column. (Photo submitted)
FRENCH CONNECTION: Cheering on the Habs

Many westerners were biased against French Canadians years ago

Email letters to editor@wltribune.com
LETTERS: Congratulations to Romeros on JUNO Award win

Fame has not made them more aloof, as it does to some

Jim Hilton pens a column on forestry each week for the Williams Lake Tribune.
FOREST INK: Agroforestry alternative to some commercial forest practices

We do need to seriously look at some of our practices

2021 graduate Annaliese Hunt-Owega with Burton Astleford in advance of the Reverse Grad Parade held Saturday, June 12 in Williams Lake. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Jenna Harvey. (Photo submitted)
RCMP looking for missing woman between 100 Mile House and Williams Lake

Jenna Harvey was last heard from a week ago and claimed to be hitchhiking north

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Most Read