With calf prices showing protracted strength, Noble Foundation ag economist Fred Schmedt suggests producers use some of the profits to invest in the future of the operation.

Schmedt suggests producers begin by identifying key areas of the operation where investments will lead to lower production costs or increased quality and quantity of production. These might include:

  • Cattle genetics — Assess the type and quality of calves you're producing. Do they fit the market?

  • Working facilities — With more emphasis on calf backgrounding programs, working facilities are needed to easily perform routine health management procedures. Focus on items that will make cattle working faster, easier and safer for both humans and animals.

  • Grazing facilities — Fencing and water systems can make grazing more efficient, and lead to increased production, and grazing cows can cost half as much as producing and feeding hay. Check with your local Natural Resource Conservation Service office about cost-sharing programs available in your area.

  • Feed storage — Bulk storage is a long-term investment that immediately can save $20-$30/ton over sacked supplements. Often, hay storage sheds can offer long-term feed savings. A good investment might be building a commodity shed to receive and store truckload lots of the cheaper by-product feeds.

  • Pasture acquisition — Now's a good time to consider adding additional grazing capacity. Leased land is usually more economical than purchasing, but now's a good time to evaluate all possible alternatives.