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  • Mar 30, 2014
    blog

    Without Expansion, The U.S. Beef Industry Is Unsustainable 1

    The problem with ignorance is that sooner or later it catches up to you. I’m not talking about innate stupidity or choosing to be intentionally obtuse. I’m talking about earnestly believing the sky is green, when in fact it’s blue, if the color is considered at all — even if the success of your business depends on it....More
  • Mar 30, 2014
    blog

    Harlan Projects $276/Cow Profit In 2014

    After another month of record cattle prices. I’d planned on moving to another subject in my April 2014 column, but I am compelled to the observations of my mid-month price analysis. Figure 1 presents the eastern Wyoming-western Nebraska sale-barn prices for the week of Feb. 15. All steer calves weighing less than 620 lbs. brought over $200/cwt., 800-lb. feeder steers averaged $170/cwt., and 10 head of 1,053-lb. feeder steers sold for $150/cwt....More
  • Mar 25, 2014
    blog

    You Can Control Your Own Level Of Happiness 2

    I was privileged to spend some time recently with the operations people at the USDA Meat Animal Research Center near Clay Center, NE.  One of the managers within that group mentioned how much he enjoyed his job, but pointed out that there were some days and events that he could do without. My response was that “every job has its cows to milk.”...More
  • Mar 24, 2014
    blog

    8 Things Happening During National Ag Week 3

    National Agriculture Week kicks off this week (March 23-30), and it’s the perfect time to recognize and celebrate the importance of agriculture. Make an effort, particularly this week, to spread the positive message about agriculture in your community. On Friday, I asked friends on Facebook what they have planned for the upcoming week. Here are eight things happening across the country for National Agriculture Week. Please, let us know about any additional events in the comments section below....More
  • Mar 20, 2014
    Commentary

    State By State, Momentum To Raise The Checkoff Is Building 14

    While it still appears to be an uphill battle to raise the checkoff at the national level, such momentum is building in individual states. This state trend is a hopeful sign that the industry eventually will see more total dollars for beef promotion, advertising and research....More
  • Mar 20, 2014
    Commentary

    I Love Tournament Time But I Hate Ranching’s March Madness

    When anyone in America hears the phrase March Madness, most everyone instantly thinks of college basketball and the excitement of the big annual national tournament. If you’re a rancher, it’s more about crazy, frustrating weather, wild markets and trying to outguess the prognosticators....More
  • Mar 17, 2014
    blog

    Talking Technology With Non-Technical Consumers 9

    The debate surrounding how the beef industry should respond to activist attacks has been going on for quite some time, and it seems we're no closer to finding an answer. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't keep asking the question....More
  • Mar 17, 2014
    blog

    Contest Entrant Tells Why Her Roots Are Deep In Ranching 1

    It’s hard to believe March is half gone, but it’s finally starting to feel a little bit like spring. For many ranchers, these days are filled with calving out cows. In fact, I’m already looking ahead to this summer, turning pairs out to pasture and haying season. You can’t blame a girl for wanting to fast-forward through the mud and muck of springtime and start enjoying long, hot summer days with lots of sunshine!...More
  • Mar 13, 2014
    blog

    What Can Growers Of Delicious Beef Learn From Growers Of Delicious Apples? 3

    I’ll never forget the illustration that Jim Gosey, formerly the University of Nebraska Extension beef specialist, once presented at a meeting long ago. Gosey talked about the apple industry and related how the Delicious variety of apple once dominated that industry in market share. Its growers were committed to maintaining that position and thus listened to what the consumer wanted. They developed the perfect color and shape (perfect for sitting on the teacher’s desk), and gave it that cool crisp sound when it’s split....More
  • Mar 13, 2014
    blog

    There Is No Magical Cow Size That Guarantees Profitability 12

    I had several people this week dispute my statement from last week that biological efficiency doesn’t vary among the accepted range in mature size in the industry (“The Bearish Math On The Beef Industry Doesn’t Add Up”). The bottom line is that maintenance costs rise as mature size increases, but it’s not a 1:1 relationship. In fact, the general rule of thumb is that maintenance costs are calculated by taking mature size to the .7 power....More
  • Mar 10, 2014
    blog

    What Does HSUS & The Hunger Games Have In Common? 7

    Partnering with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is a lot like joining an alliance in the Hunger Games. If you’ve seen the movie or read the books, you know that each district in this imaginary world has to sacrifice a boy and a girl tribute to play in the Hunger Games, which ultimately results in the tributes killing one another until only one remains....More
  • Mar 9, 2014
    blog

    Despite Record Prices, Push The Pencil For The Best Selling Option

    Current corn prices are lowering cost of gain, and current marketing buy/sell margins are putting upward pressure on breakeven cost of gain. Be sure to use a sharp pencil in making your post-weaning marketing plans for your 2013 calves....More
  • Mar 6, 2014
    blog

    Liability Risk Is Beginning To Flow Down The Beef Production Chain 7

    The whole topic of liability is a frustrating one for cow-calf producers. After all, a cow-calf producer has no way of controlling what happens to the product once it leaves the ranch. However, in today’s litigious world, someone is going to be sued if a problem develops. Retailers, packers, and feeders tend to be much larger enterprises; thus, they’re much more appealing targets from a trial lawyer’s viewpoint. That doesn’t mean, however, that cow-calf producers are immune from such legal action....More
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