5 Wisdoms that Rule the Herd

Let's get back to what's important— raising quality cattle.
Let's get back to what's important— raising quality cattle.

It’s been a long few months of contention—the country, the checkoff and the weather. It’s time to get back to what we all love—watching new calves born, feeding the first few loads of corn silage, and seeing your kids racing to pull on muck boots to help with the chores.

Raising cattle can happen in many different ways. But here are five rules of wisdom we all need to be reminded of:

1. Work with a good veterinarian and be fanatic about animal health.

Good Fences Make Better Neighbors (5)Evaluate your operations for any lack in animal health—from scours to anaplasmosis to pasture health. Concerns about antibiotic use world-wide will continue—having a good veterinarian-client relationship is key to getting medications responsibility and quickly.

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2. You get what you pay for.

Good Fences Make Better Neighbors (4)Pay the extra money for a good bull and build a reputation for quality cattle. It will come back ten-fold when its time to market your calves. Regardless of the breed you choose, understand the EPD and genetic evaluations of your options. If there is additional data to be had—have it!

3. Cull out the crazy cows.

Good Fences Make Better Neighbors (3)If she’s running, she’s not eating or milking her calf. There’s no argument you can make to not send her to market. Wild cattle put your safety, employees and entire herd at risk. The moment she is gone, take a gut check—do you need to work cattle in a lower stress manner? Invest in the animal handling training to have a calmer, more productive herd.

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4. Good fences make better neighbors.

Good Fences Make Better Neighbors (1)You’ve likely heard the story of a prized genomic cow getting accidentally bred by the neighbor’s bull. Have you ever weaned calves and woke up the next morning with them all mixed together? Key cause is your fence.

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Many states have differing fence and liability laws. This could also be a year to consider corn stalk grazing. Make sure your fence strategy is ready and have accessible water sources.

5. Plan for tomorrow today.

Good Fences Make Better Neighbors (2)The unthinkable is only seconds away—accidents are never planned. What would happen to the farm or ranch, if you have an unexpected death or debilitating accident?

Do you want to pass the farm to the next generation, now or some point in the future? Succession planning is a hard, complicated process, but farmers and ranchers can create a successful transition of the business to another party—without losing a production step.

Drovers and our media partner, the Farm Journal Legacy Project, have a collection of succession planning resources—from planning family meetings, creating buy/sell agreements to tax planning. Let us help you get started.

Succession Planning Action Guide

Fair Versus Equal Exercise

Retirement Income and Expenses


Have more ranch-tested advice for other cattlemen and women? Email sbrown@farmjournal.com.


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