How about this cattle market!

Farm Forum

What a time to be in the cattle business! The markets are at levels most of us would have never dreamt possible even one year ago. I know that there a lot of people wondering how long these prices will last, and I’m not smart enough to know the answer. I know that adding cow numbers will not be a quick or easy process; whether that’s in South Dakota or nationally so any pressure from the supply side won’t happen quickly either. On the demand side we are really in uncharted territory right now. At least so far our domestic and international customers appear to be more than willing to pay us for our product. Frankly in my opinion, it’s the beef industry’s turn to start making money again and I don’t think we need to apologize for doing so.

So how should producers manage going forward? I’ve thought of a few things to consider regarding cow herd and beef cattle management. These aren’t in any particular order and each operation may have other priorities that better fit their operation; but I hope these can serve as a starting point.

• Spend money to make money. To use a race car analogy, I wouldn’t take my foot off the gas pedal when it comes to optimizing production. All the tools and technology that worked at $1 a pound calves work that much better at higher prices. Take implanting calves for example. Adding 25 pounds with a sound implanting program adds up fast when calves are worth $2 plus per pound.

• Invest for the future. I’m not advocating simply buying assets to save on taxes. What I am suggesting making upgrades in areas that will keep producers competitive. Genetics come to mind very quickly, but other areas could include investing in facilities to save on labor, or doing things that might improve range and natural resources.

• Invest in people. There’s no question that raising cattle is work, and that the time comes when people are looking for a chance to slow down or step back from the physical aspects of raising livestock. At the same time there may be family or other individuals that have the desire and the ability but lack the capital. Figuring out how to capitalize on the strengths of both parties will leave everyone better off, especially rural South Dakota communities.

Beef Improvement Federation Convention in Lincoln, Neb.

If improved beef genetics are something that producers are considering updating, we’ve got a tremendous opportunity coming to our region. The Beef Improvement Federation convention is coming up June 18-21 in Lincoln, Neb. This conference brings together some of the leading beef genetics experts and top seedstock and commercial cattle producers in one place to share ideas and discuss how to improve cattle genetics and management.

One of the highlights will be a look back at the 50 year anniversary of the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Neb. There’s also a tour of that facility that will be offered along with discussions of cow herd feed efficiency, the genetics of disease susceptibility, and heifer development strategies. Online registration, lodging information, and a complete schedule can be found at