"I don’t know that we’ll do any expanding, although we’re always looking for an opportunity to grow,” Sam Hands says of his cow herd. “But we don’t look to shrink, either.”

Rather, with Triangle H, an integrated ranching, farming and cattle-feeding operation near Garden City, KS, Hands says they’ll do lots of fine-tuning in 2009 with their cow-calf operation.

“We’re going to be more mindful of the cows and situations and locations that are not working for us as well. We’re going to make sure (all the cows) are paying their way and pick up any slack where we can.”

Their feedlot, on the other hand, could offer some growth opportunities in 2009. “It’s always a challenge to out-predict the market, be it the grain market or the fed market, but I think there may be a greater opportunity for retained ownership than in recent years.” Given that, he’ll look to expand the operation’s feedlot over the year to accommodate his customers.

Hands sees ’09 as a challenging year, but one with opportunity, as well. Commodity prices, whether selling corn or cattle, have retreated. Input costs haven’t retreated quite as much, setting up a tighter scenario in ’09, he thinks. “In the meantime, (the industry will see) more vertical integration and increase in values by way of feeding cattle. I think we’ll have a little better opportunity and maybe less risk than last year.”