Where is the Profit?

Published on Thu, 03/31/2022 - 10:26am

Where is the Profit?.

 Article courtesy of Kopriva Angus.

 Kopriva Angus is located in northeast South Dakota. Our winters are long and harsh. Our summers are hot and dry. Our soil is shallow and fragile. Profits for cattlemen are jaded and illusive.

I have noticed many agricultural producers in both grain and livestock have become totally obsessed with production.  They will gamble everything for high yields and big weaning weights, with only minimal attention to increasing expenses.  I encourage our customers to pause and consider the possibility maximum yield is frequently less profitable than optimum production. This theme reoccurs through out all the enterprises on the farm.

If ranchers buy soft fat show cattle that have been sheltered from the harshness of this cold hard world, they should not be surprised when those animals crash and burn when returned to the real world.  The benefit from buying cattle from our closed, bio secure herd is; the moment a bloodline is recognized as problematic, we didn’t gloss it over, we eliminated it.

Much of agriculture’s production blindness stems from the fallacy that bigger or more defines better. Check it out in your dictionary.  Agricultural producers and lenders have been brain washed into believing they can out produce a loss.  The simple fact is, there must be some increment of profit per unit before producing more units will help.

The secret passage to profit is efficiency.  We must search out and recognize expense in all its hidden forms and justify them or eliminate them.  If there is a hole in the pail, more trips to the well isn’t going to fix the problem, FIX THE PAIL!

Sometimes research and statistics tend to conceal the problem.  Our goals of profit become complicated by production.  Cowboys seem to forget the hands down number one most important factor to cow profit is fertility, nothing else comes close.  Fertility is the reason your cattle number doubles every spring.  Next in importance would be longevity and durability.  Anybody can compare EPDs but unfortunately there is none for these 3 most important traits.  The other antagonism is nearly all the EPDs are production oriented and are actually counterproductive to fertility.  Larger weaning weights and yearling weights, will inevitably lead to larger cows, which will increase feed and pasture expenses.  One ton cows are more expensive to develop, then they keep growing for 5 years, then they have structural problems and fall out of the herd before 6 years old…ask me how I know.  Higher carcass traits fly in direct opposition to fertility and very few of the benefits financially help anybody but the packer.  Similarly high milk production becomes the enemy because that movie star heifer pulls herself down to skin and bones and doesn’t breed back because the pasture alone doesn’t provide enough energy to support that level of production.  Yes again “it was just too good to be true”.

All that being said, here at Kopriva Angus we do accurately and honestly record 100% of the production and carcass data.  We embrace the science and enhance them with genomics and make them available to our customers.  My best advice to attain profits in the cow/calf business is consider the possibility that moderation in size and production may lower your cost and increase your profits consistently.

Jim Kopriva,  Kopriva Angus Raymond SD.  Production Sale - May 5, 2022 at the ranch.