Making Better Farm Management Decisions

Traditionally, producer education efforts around farm management are directed at understanding the academic topics of business operations and management including accounting, law, human resources, marketing, production, risk, finance, etc. The information, techniques, and tools taught are often concrete and focus on measurement, analysis, and data. For instance, a traditional grain marketing education program would generally include topics in forward contracts, options, futures, hedge to arrive, basis contracts, storage, and seasonality.

How Far is too Far to Transport Cows to Winter Cornstalks?

here are times feed in the local area is scarce or expensive. This may happen during a time of drought or other natural or manmade disaster. With the help of UNL’s modified Feed Cost Cow-Q-Later it was straightforward to make some comparisons among methods of feeding cows and with some additional information estimate comparison costs among feed sources, including transporting cows. With the current drought conditions in many parts of the Western US...

Dealing With More Than Just Dry Conditions During Drought

The most recent drought conditions have grown to cover a large portion of the west and the central United States, as shown in Figure 1. Those depending on rain continue to watch and hope that conditions will change, while implementing and considering various strategies to preserve their livelihoods. Those who have been in the business for years have seen other occasions when dry conditions limited forage production and created hardship. Each occurrence has varying outcomes, depending on the many factors faced by individuals.

Long Term Profitability, Balance and Growth of the Farm or Ranch Business

Coach Bear Bryant is purported to have said, "Winning isn't everything, but it beats anything that comes in second." Often, I hear the sentiment, "Profit isn't everything." Continuing with the attitude expressed by Coach Bryant, I would expand his statement to something like this: "Profit isn't everything, but it sure beats a loss." Farm and ranch operators who are profitable are more likely to control the fates of their businesses, pass on their operations to their progeny, and accomplish the objectives they wish for themselves and their families.

What Should Farmers/Ranchers Be Paying Attention to Now?

As a child, I loved a good roller coaster. The ups and downs, the twists and turns, even going upside down. It was exciting and gave me energy. It is still fun, but they now give me a headache, make my stomach upset for hours, and drain my energy. I do not get on roller coasters often anymore, but I get the same feelings from keeping up with the rapidly changing environment around the agricultural industry. The last 15 years of the farm economy seems to have taken the ride to an extreme coaster level and it is hard to keep up. The unknowns, rapid changes, and need for quick decisions do not seem to be going away. So, how can a producer be prepared for sustainability?

A Strategy for Building a Beef Cow Herd

Due to the intensive capital requirements and approximate 27-month lag between the initial purchase of heifers and the sale of a calf crop, building a beef cow herd is challenging for beginning and younger cow-calf producers. Here, we describe a three-phase herd building strategy and summarize the results of an economic analysis of the strategy for the Nebraska cattle market.

Where are your priorities and How does your operation stack-up to the competition (Benchmarking)?

An executive summary of benchmarking a cow-calf operation by comparing it to other similar operations provides producers a tool to look at ways they can improve their businesses. This summary looks at 31 commercial beef cow-calf operations with 100 or more cows. The information comes from the 2019 FINBIN database maintained by the University of Minnesota for the states of Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

Strategically Making Your Farm or Ranch Profitable

The word ‘strategically’ sounds sophisticated and is often used to imply the presence of some secret idea that will always work to increase profit. In truth, however, strategy is simply a plan of action or policy designed to achieve something desired, and it can be complex or basic, as each occasion requires. Strategy can be good or bad, a successful endeavor or a disaster. The key to good strategy is...

Annual Beef Heifer Replacement Forecasts 2020-21

The 2019-20 season has been a wild ride for the beef industry. Although the supply of beef livestock has been adequate, supply chain challenges have made retail cuts of beef more expensive without producers capturing any benefit from the higher price. Some parts of Nebraska have experienced drought-like conditions, leaving some individual producers short on forage resources, and concerned about the coming season. These issues further complicate the already complex decisions related to maintaining a brood cow business. One of the largest factors in this decision-making process is the...

Annual Beef Heifer Replacement Forecasts 2018-19

Ranch profitability is not the result of a single choice but the culmination of all management, marketing and production choices. Therefore, better individual choices such as controlling costs are likely to result in increased profitability or decreased loss. Some choices have a larger role in affecting profits and sustainability. The costs of brood cow replacements are basic to profitability in beef operations. Therefore, what is a reasonable amount to spend on beef replacement heifers for the coming 2018-2019 production season?

Western Nebraska corn/soybean rotation Payoff

Corn and soybeans are the two most common crops grown in Nebraska. Some farmers in the western part of the state plant continuous corn with few that plant continuous soybeans. In most cases some type of corn/soybean rotation is practiced. Idealistically speaking crop rotations should be producer and site specific, matching physical geography, resource availability and management capability. This work focuses on the difference in profitability among four possible rotations...

A Historical Comparison of Heifer Replacement Costs 2015

The value of heifer replacements is an interesting question which is affected by time (e. g. future cattle prices), animal longevity and the individual production and management system of the cow-calf producer. If we ignore the differences among producers we can study the effects that price and longevity have on the net value of replacement animals. By using the simulation model Heifer Value Cow-q-lator production information from the University of Nebraska's research herd at Gudmundsen Sandhill Laboratory (GSL) and current and historical...