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Archive for the ‘government cost’ Category

>Why my grass fed beef won’t replace any corn for your tortillas any time soon

Posted by Thrivelearning on November 5, 2009

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Sure, I’m just joking about the tortillas – practically, the seeming biggest use of corn is sent to animal food. 1% is sweet corn, 25% goes to ethanol (and the byproduct leftover is then fed to animals), 20% is exported and another tiny bit is used for food ingredients, chemicals, fabrics, and plastics. (Source: EcoProducts)

But one of the big whoppers being told by the “animal rights” activists and other enviro’s is that cattle are taking the land we’d be growing crops on.

Look, I’m from Missouri, where we are #2 behind Texas in raising cattle. If the land is good enough to raise profitable crops, you won’t see a cow anywhere near it.

Good crop ground makes between 150 – 200 bushels of corn an acre. It takes 2.5 acres to keep a cow alive in Missouri (more out West.) So if you are getting $800 for a full-grown steer or could take those 500 bushels of corn off those same 2.5 acres and sell them at $4 each ($2,000) – which would you do?

That’s probably why we shifted over to feeding cheap corn to cows instead of having them munch away at prairie grasses. But you will also see the big feedlots in crop country, not down in the rolling hills that start where I live and keep going further down into southern Missouri.

But I’m awfully tempted to take the rest of my 45 acres I farm as crops and convert it to pasture. Why? Because it doesn’t make but about 80 bushel per acre of corn. And the cost per acre is the same, whether you get a 200 bu. yield or nothing.

Crunching the numbers for the land I have showed that I got about $2,000 profit off those 45 acres last year. Pays the taxes and the bills, barely. Now, say I had a crop which didn’t require inputs and was pure profit. 45 acres should keep about 18 more cows. If I sell their calves at about $600 profit, then I make $10,800 – so which is more profitable?

That’s what these other big-city complainers just don’t get – cattle are raised on marginal land which won’t produce any decent sort of food otherwise. Our own farm land is all marginal, even the stuff we crop right now. Mostly trees, shrubs and clay ground under about 2-3 inches of top soil. Raises better grass and trees than anything else.

You go 40 miles north or east and it’s a different scene. 6-8″ topsoil and that 200 bu. corn I mentioned earlier.

The trick is to raise that low-maintenance, low-input, environmentally-friendly grass fed beef.

Because the land only gets better when you raise your beef right. And the quality of the beef is the best that can be produced. Award-winning and lab-tests to prove how heart-healthy it is.

And it will make this farmer improve his own rural lifestyle by being able to maybe quit his day job – one day, anyway.

If you follow what Nature laid out, not the government, you generally have an easier time of it. At least, that’s what I’ve experienced.

Try it for yourself and see…

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While I raise my own grass-fed beef here in Missouri, I suggest you try a vendor such as La Cense Beef if you want to sample some truly wonderful, Montana-raised grass fed beef.

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Posted in beef cattle, government cost, grass fed beef, rural lifestyle | Leave a Comment »

>Why you probably won’t ever see Organic Beef coming from my farm

Posted by Thrivelearning on November 4, 2009

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The reason is pure economics. Has nothing to do with the quality of beef produced. Let me lay it out for you.

I’ve already covered in a broad sense how grain-finished beef is more expensive to produce than grass-fed beef.

Let’s look this over:

  • I don’t have to have a lot of expensive equipment to run my farm or produce my crops.
  • I don’t have to spray anything as the cows eat almost all of the weeds.
  • I don’t have to deal with insects, since the more I can get in the pastures (well, except maybe face flies) the better the pastures do.
  • If I do it right and manage my grazing, I don’t have to even cut and bale hay for the winter.
  • And If I manage my herd properly, the soil will actually improve in quality – which means I can actually start adding more cows just to keep up with the grass.

Follow the money…

What’s my net cost for each calf I produce? About $40 in shots for the new ones (and I’m beginning to think those are even unnecesary…)

Now, per beeffrompasturetoplate.org,

The truth is it takes 2.6 pounds of grain and 435 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef in the United States.

When you take a 400lb just-weaned calf up to 1100lbs, you are using 1820 lbs of grain (usually corn and soybeans, ground and mixed). If it were just corn and I had to buy it at commodity prices, I’d be paying at least $4 per bushel (more or less) – so a rough cost would put the extra cost at $7280 – at least on paper. Large operations will get their feed much cheaper than this (and have to.) But that tells you right there why you pay high beef prices and farmers still go broke.

My own experiences, from fattening cattle on this farm, told me that the feed bills alone took half the calf crop. We never made enough corn on our land to feed out cattle, so we’d sell the corn we raised (for real minimal profit) and then buy the other feed.

Now, the funny thing was when I found out feeder calves (sold right after weaning) made as much income as keeping those calves up to fattening weight – well, I never fattened cattle on corn again. (And I got to keep the money from that corn we raised.)

The next price break was when I found that a calf fattened to a year old on just grass will give me about $600 profit per head – and that’s taking out the cost of keeping them and their mother alive during the winter with hay.

So my profit of selling these calves as yearlings was better than feeding them on corn I didn’t have.

The next break – selling them as finished cattle (about 20-22 months) was no better profit, because you have to winter them over with hay again. Since they are now eating more to put those last few pounds on, it’s a wash for those extra months. (Of course, when I go over to “mob grazing” and no hay in the winter – every calf is nearly sheer profit…)

The cost of Government-inspected Organic Beef

Here’s where organic comes in. Annually, I would have to keep paperwork and get this inspected to prove that I didn’t add anything to the land or the cattle. So I pay a fee to have my paperwork checked – for every single acre and animal (as I understand it.) Essentially, this is a government tax at work.

Right now, the premium paid for locally-raised, grass-fed beef is the same or higher than organic beef. Why? Because people know where it came from and who butchered it.

And the last case of e-coli infecction I heard of came from what? USDA Government-inspected beef – which came from cattle out of four states and two countries, all mixed together into a yummy, tasteless, uniform-sized, frozen, plastic-wrapped, gray patty.

So if it costs more to get the government involved, but I make the same amount of income – which is more profitable? Pasture-finished or organic pasture-finished? (And we’re leaving out the idea of making organic corn – a whole ‘nother expense…)

That’s why I’m not going to be raising organic beef anytime soon. It gets the government into your operation and makes it cost more. I’ll make more money and higher quality beef, even if I just sell to my neighbors in our local cities.

– – – –

While I raise my own grass-fed beef here in Missouri, I suggest you try a vendor such as La Cense Beef if you want to sample some truly wonderful, Montana-raised grass fed beef.

Posted in beef cattle, government cost, grass fed beef | Leave a Comment »

>How my local beef is better than your supermarket version – and I can prove it!

Posted by Thrivelearning on November 2, 2009

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While I’ve been working to improve the quality of the beef I raise, I find that many people don’t know that they can buy their beef directly from the farmer. Factually, this will actually save them money when they do.

Additionally, they know how that meat was raised and what it was fed.

Most local beef is raised in an environmentally-friendly and responsible manner. This is why a great deal of it is grass-fed, also known as pasture-finished. It’s as natural as they come.

Government Intervention in Beef

Now there is some discussion about organic versus natural versus grass-fed beef. And another discussion about USDA-inspected or not.

My rule of thumb is this: the less the government is involved, the better. The Feds own the organic trademark and license it’s use. That doesn’t mean you get the best quality – but you can guarantee it costs more.

If you stick to the USDA definitions for these types of beef, you’ll quickly see that they are nearly impossible to achieve – as they are so limited. So that again means that you are going to have higher costs.

Same with USDA-inspected. All meat lockers and processors have to have regular inspections from the state health inspectors. When the USDA is involved, they have to check into other special items, like the conditions of the lymph nodes, and so on. All USDA means is that you can re-sell the pieces of a cow (like a single steak or just one pound of hamburger) and it’s guaranteed safe. (Well, almost always…)

Again, this just raises the overhead for the beef – which is passed right on to you.

The more your beef is connected to the government, the more it’s going to cost you.

Buying grass-fed beef directly

The best guarantee of your beef quality is to know how it was raised, where it came from, and who butchered it.

You should be able to drive out to these places and visit them. (Try that with Argentinean beef when you are in New York…)

I was looking around and found this great explanation from the University of Washington:

Many farmers do not sell meat by individual cuts, but offer it in sides, quarters, or smaller packs containing a variety of cuts. It may be more economical for you to purchase a whole, half (side), or quarter of grass-fed beef if you have the freezer space to do so. It is important to understand how you are buying the beef if you choose to buy a large quantity.

A variety of factors affect the amount of meat a whole, half, or quarter will yield. First, the dressing percentage (the weight of the carcass after the hide, blood, and organs are removed) will alter the amount of meat a 1,100-pound live steer will yield. Typically, dressing percentages range from 56 to 65%, so a 1,100-pound steer would result in a carcass weighing between 616 and 715 pounds.

Cutting yield is the amount of meat remaining once a carcass is further processed. Typically, with grass-fed beef, there will be a loss of 25–30%, which is attributed to the removal of bone and fat. Losses can be greater when the consumer prefers more boneless cuts. With a 650-pound carcass, a consumer can expect to take home 455–487 pounds of beef. A side of beef will yield about 200–240 pounds of beef, and a quarter will yield 100–120 pounds.

When buying meat as a whole, half, or quarter, be sure to ask who will pay the processing costs. In most situations, the consumer works directly with the processing plant and pays the processing costs; however, some farmers will pay the costs for processing and then include that charge in the overall price of the meat.

If you are unfamiliar with negotiating regarding cuts of meats and costs, ask the farmer from whom you are buying the meat to assist you with this process. Most farmers consistently work with the same processing facilities and should be able to address any questions you may have. You will need to follow up with the processing plant soon after the animal has been delivered to the facility to provide cutting instructions as well as any special requests you may have (e.g., sausages or special cuts). Depending on how long the carcasses hang before they are cut up, the meat will not be ready for 2–3 weeks. The processing facility should call you when your meat is ready. Payment is expected when the meat is picked up.

Questions to ask the producer

Farmers use a variety of production practices to produce high quality meat products, and it is worthwhile to talk to the producers about how their animals are raised. Typically, beef cattle are slaughtered at 18–24 months of age. Grass-fed beef is usually produced without growth-promoting hormones or other additives, but be sure to ask the producers about their production practices if it is important to you. Grass-fed beef may or may not be produced with corn. Some pasture-based farms feed a little grain to “finish” the animal.

One benefit of buying directly from farmers is you can talk with them about their production practices, develop an understanding of their actions, and learn the reasons for their production decisions.

– – – –

While I raise my own grass-fed beef here in Missouri, I suggest you try a vendor such as La Cense Beef if you want to sample some truly wonderful, Montana-raised grass fed beef.

With thanks to University of Wisconsin – A Consumer’s Guide to Grass-Fed Beef – A3862 – http://www.uwex.edu/ces/cty

Posted in beef cattle, cooking natural beef, government cost, grass fed beef | Leave a Comment »