Sunday, August 21, 2011

Selling cows, drought, chicken litter

Well we sold a few hundred head of cows this week...had to send the bulk of them to Kearney, NE because the Joplin Stockyards cancelled their sale due to the drought and, consequently, lack of demand in this area. The cows did well and I am happy with our decision. I think the cow/calf sector will be very profitable in the coming years, it just doesn't lend itself well to mob we are utilizing our smaller acreage to keep our remaining cows and moving to stockers on our big ranch (the "goat ranch"). As good as I think the cow/calf sector will be, I think the stocker operation will be better.

We are just now getting recognized on the drought map as being in a severe drought in SW Missouri and I can tell you it's pretty bad. Pastures look like wheat fields in July and I've noticed a LOT of dead trees. We aren't nearly as bad as some parts, but it's still significant. We currently have enough grass to decide to keep our 2010 calf crop even longer to add some additional grass gain. It's so valuable now that it makes sense. Most people are feeding hay, we are doing pretty good...still have an entire 250 acres we haven't grazed at the goat ranch. Managed grazing is a beautiful thing. Hopefully fall will bring some moisture.

We are doing something this year I've thought a lot about but haven't done, spreading chicken litter on some pastures. As I've mentioned in the past, it takes grass to make grass, and we have some pastures at the goat ranch that simply don't give us enough production to be able to properly mob graze it. So we have decided to spread a ton of litter per acre ($35 per acre...gonna do about 600 acres) to hopefully give it a jump start this fall. I will keep you posted of the results. I think it's needed...we have 3 pastures (Rock Barn, North Rock Barn and Across Road) that just haven't responded to the mob grazing the way the other pastures have. I think the soil is just worn out from years of abuse and the litter should add some micro nutrients (in addition to the nitrogen) back to the soil to promote some growth. We are spreading this week so keeping our fingers crossed for some rain later this week.

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