RANCH MUSINGS: Young people and the business of ranching

RANCH MUSINGS: Young people and the business of ranching

We recently had our vet check our cows to see if they were “in calf” or “open”

We recently had our vet check our cows to see if they were “in calf” or “open.” We consider this a good investment because we can take the infertile ones out of our herd.

I have said here before that, from my reading of the research on the economics of the cattle industry, that reproductive performance is the single most important determinant of profitability.

We ranch and farm to make a living, not to subsidize food for others. Working off farm is common and is undertaken to maintain a lifestyle, or to invest in paying for the farm. It is also a way to invest in the farm or to put money aside for retirement.

It is never too early to teach young people about the business side.

There are many production skills that can be taught early. One of these skills is handling livestock.

Learning about appropriate (sometimes simple technologies, not just the latest fad) technologies can keep the kids interested. However, it is the costs of production that will determine viability as a business.

As good as 4-H is for kids, it teaches them about niche marketing. They get premium prices at the sales for their animals, but it doesn’t focus on the general commodity livestock business.

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

That mostly has to be done from home.

If we as adults and business managers don’t know our cost of production we should know where to look to keep costs down. Yes, good product can bring a few cents a pound more but most of the production goes into the big commodity market.

People directly marketing finished (cut and wrapped) meat, may be able to get a little more provided they can afford to truck livestock a couple hundred miles to a slaughter house. However, our local markets are not big enough to take but a small percentage of our production.

Kids can be encouraged to keep their own numbers and share in discussion about the cost structure of the business.

A bunch of us were talking the other day about the need to stay focused on economic viability because if there is a decent living to be made in ranching then young people will want to enter or stay in the industry.

There is another proviso here, which is that they must have experienced the joys of the business and lifestyle, not just the tribulations: it is hard work and nature and government can throw some hard balls our way.

Our recent experience involving the grandkids and a neighbour child in the preg checking was instructive.

They learned not to stand or swing on gates (the ground is soft and the gates will sag). I hate pushing gates that touch the ground.

The really liked to carry the stock pod which is used for emergencies thinking they might have a magic sword and they might like to prod an unsuspecting cousin. They learned it was not a toy and really only has to be used occasionally.

The really big lesson was when the vet allowed them to look at the tiny calf inside the mother cow by looking through the glasses and seeing the image on the ultrasound scope.

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

They also learned about moving the cattle through the handling facility. They said that was fun too. When they can read and write (even before) they can start the chore of record keeping

It all takes time and we must do that, even though we are often pressed for time.

About cost of production calculations, the Cariboo Cattlemens Association and the government are sponsoring a workshop on Nov. 29 in Williams Lake from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Thompson Rivers University. Cost is $ 35.

Space is limited. Contact cariboocattlmens@gmail.com or call Ang at 604-243-8357. Bring your financial information and work on your own business or share with others. We can be an example to the next generation.

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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Buses transport School District 27 students home after school on Monday, Jan 25, 2021 in Williams Lake. (Anna Fait photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
COVID-19: More contact tracing, more Williams Lake students self-isolating in SD27

Interior Health answers questions around contact tracing

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin makes preparations at Toronto’s mass vaccination clinic, Jan. 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
3 deaths, 234 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

One death connected to outbreak at Kamloops’ Royal Inland Hospital, where 20 patients and 28 staff have tested positive

The Williams Lake Seniors Village. (Angie Mindus file photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
COVID-19 outbreak declared over at Williams Lake Seniors Village: Interior Health

IH credited the good work of staff in keeping the outbreak from spreading

Brent and Craig Lelleau of Lebleau Brothers Logging star in Mud Mountain Haulers on Discovery Canada. (Photo submitted)
Mud Mountain Haulers shine light on forest industry

New TV show, featuring Lebeau Brothers Logging and shot in the Cariboo, premieres tonight.

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Kamloops This Week.
48 COVID-19 cases and one death associated with outbreak at Kamloops hospital

One of the 20 patients infected has died, meanwhile 28 staff with COVID-19 are isolating at home

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

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

Kyrell Sopotyk was drafted by the Kamloops Blazers in 2016 and played two seasons with the Western Hockey League club. (Photograph By ALLEN DOUGLAS/KTW)
Kamloops Blazer paralyzed in snowboarding accident sparks fundraiser for family

As of Jan. 24, more than $68,000 had been raised to help Kamloops Blazers’ forward Kyrell Sopotyk

Most Read