James Grothe, Dairy Beef Specialist
As corn harvest approaches, it looks to be a good one as far as yields – I think we have a very good opportunity to gain some new business and clients. In this market of livestock production where it is tough to maintain good profits, we have a new but old opportunity. The opportunity is with Dairy Beef, and not with the typical Dairy Beef clients we have called on over the years, but with new ones. These new prospects are dairy clients that are quitting milk or looking for additional profit and grain farmers.
Dairy produces are obvious prospects since they have experience with feeding Holsteins and do it quite well. On the other hand, grain farmers don’t always have cattle feeding experience. But, over the past 20 years of my career in selling dairy beef feeds, some of the best clients I have had over the years are grain farmers. Why? It fits for a number of reasons, which I will discuss.
The three requirements for this enterprise are corn, cattle and feedlot. The first item we will have a lot of this year. Some producers need a $3.50/bushel selling price to be profitable. So feeding corn to Dairy Beef adds value. Walk it off the farm! Grain farmers have one of the three major things needed to feed dairy beef, CORN. No matter how dairy beef are fed, they will use 60 to 100 bushels plus per steer.
Most grain farmers have limited livestock experience. That is probably good when dealing with dairy beef because they don’t have opinions/practices that require change. Thus, the concept of feeding whole corn and pellets to steers is one that is easily adaptable. Whole corn is something they know a lot about. They can be taught the proper practices in caring for dairy beef.
To get into the dairy beef feeding business with little investment, many grain farmers will rent an empty lot and purchase a self-feeder. Some may hire a neighbor with an empty lot or a custom feeding yard. The list of opportunities is limitless so think of an empty lot and a potential client that has corn and try to put the two together for a profitable experience for all.
The last piece is the cattle. Check the Dairy Beef listing to find cattle for sale, or place an inquiry for cattle. Chances are you will find plenty of cattle to feed. Sometimes, we look too far away for cattle when there is plenty of cattle right in our own back yard. Keep in mind that local cattle are more profitable most of the time and better for the community. Less trucking expense and stress will improve profits. Contracts for selling finished cattle are still available and presently a producer is able to lock in a good profit making $3.00 corn worth $4.00 a bushel.
What tools do we have to get this done? It should be more like what don’t we have. Brochures, record keeping books, projection programs, and ration balancers are available from Kent Feeds. That is the tangible stuff – don’t forget about the Product Development Center where Kent Feeds does continuing work on feeding Dairy Beef, the technical staff and commercial sales managers. Now is the time to find open feedlots and find ways to fill them with cattle being fed Kent Feeds’ products.