There is no doubt that cattle prices are high. With added income this year, you may be considering investing some of that money instead of sending it in as taxes next April. It is important to make wise use of that money to provide years of benefit to your cattle operation.
Priority number 1 — pay down any existing debt. If any debt will need to be refinanced soon, the higher interest rates are going to be a killer.
Once you have evaluated your finances, look at other investment opportunities on your operation. Now may be the time to invest in your pasture. Fertilizer costs have been very high, and many have put off making investment in their soil fertility. This can only be avoided for so long before your forage suffers immensely. Soil testing is the very first step to making a wise decision on what path to take. Perhaps pasture renovation is necessary. Pay the Florida Forest Service to assist with a control burn to control some areas you have neglected. Pasture is a priority for cow-calf operation success. Soil Testing Procedure
Perhaps with the extra income you could investigate buying some items in bulk. This could save you money on your inputs now and later. Think about winter supplements, mineral, fence supplies, hay, etc. This will all obviously hinge on your ability to store the supplies and keep them from becoming damaged.
Speaking of fence…Fencing is a constant “need” that sometimes gets kicked down the road. Not only repairing existing fence, but now may be the time to invest in cross-fencing. This gives you the opportunity to increase or add rotational grazing to your forage management program. The practice can add dividends for many years to come by improving forage production, maintaining forage health, and improving cattle performance. Rotational Grazing
Perhaps this year is the year to try a winter annual. More rain is expected this winter for Florida, so that is helpful when planting crops like ryegrass. Along with moisture, winter annuals require good management and soil fertility. While the inputs do have a cost, it could save money in the long run where winter supplementation is concerned. Cool Season Forage
Evaluate your cow pens to see if improvements can be made. Repairs are always necessary, but is there some remodeling that needs to be done? Does the flow cause stress on your cattle and yourself. The hidden costs of not having a good working and load out area could be removed with some new arrangements. Adding a roof to your cow pens for shade to alleviate heat stress is needed. Perhaps go beyond just “repair” this year and get a cow pen design that saves time and money for years to come.
This could be the year you take a big leap in genetic improvement. Take a portion of your herd and hire someone to artificially inseminate them with superior genetics you wouldn’t normally have access to. The goal could be a great group of replacement heifers which would be in the herd being high performers for years to come. Reproductive Technologies
If you have questions concerning your small flock, contact your local county Extension Agent.