Update on cows and cow plans for 2016-2017

Today Miguel, Spork, Vicente, and I worked all the cows through our corral and across the scales. It’s our first time doing so since the cows went to our leased farm this spring and it’s our first gut check of the year to see where we are.

First, back in 2015 we had a goal for 2016 to finish one cow per month. That would keep us in beef pretty much all the time, so we thought, throughout the year. We scheduled with our processor to have one cow per month back in 2015. However with the demand, we’ve increased our schedule to where we’ve already taken 8 cows through the processor in six months, putting us ahead of plan. It normally takes 90 days to get on the schedule at the processor, or more pertinent to us, to get extra slots in the schedule. Last month I sat down with our processor and mapped out our schedule for the rest of 2016. I did this before I had the data from today’s weigh in so it was really just educated guesses.

For the remainder of the year, we now have spots on the schedule for 12 more cows to be processed over 7 months.

June 13 – 1 cow
July 11 – 2 cows
August 15 – 1 cow
September 13 – 2 cows
October 14 – 2 cows
November 4 – 2 cows
December 12 – 2 cows

Importantly, we have slots at the processor prior to Thanksgiving and Christmas so that we can get our meat back prior to the big days. That will let us order special orders for people and get them in fresh just before the holidays (hint, hint).

As we weighed everyone today, we have 11 cows that are or will be ready to process in 2016. They are:

14 – 1186 lb
3 – 942 lb
39 – 1247 lb
43 – 1050 lb
47 – October finish, 720 lb
LF33 – 1135 lb
WF 18 – Late 2016, 966 lb
Steve 10 – 1210 lb
LF07 – 1198 lb
759 – 1093 lb
63 – 1042 lb

That means we are 1 cow short of plan. Since we just took an unplanned cow to the processor (they had a sudden extra spot this past week), that means we were actually perfectly on plan for 2016, which is pretty good when you consider we’ve increased our beef production 50% above our original plan and we were just guessing on how many we’d need.

We will most likely take #11 to the processor in late 2016 as well, so that will make our 12th cow for the plan putting us perfectly on plan, Lord willing.

So for all of 2016, we will process 18 cows and about 54 pigs.

For 2017, we need to finish 24 cows. We have 13 cows on the ground that will finish in 2017 meaning we are 11 short. We will need to purchase stocker cows to make our numbers for 2017 and I’m already working on that now. For 2017, we have:

47, 54, 55, 57, 60, 64, A1, A2, A3, A4, A6, A9, and A12. Those are our 13 cows already committed. From that group, we have four cull cows, A5, A7, A8, and A11. These will be going to market to be gotten rid of.

For 2018, I don’t know what our planned production will be yet. I do know we have 9 calves expected this year (to finish in 2018), three of which are from new moms. We also have a number of new moms coming into production for 2017 meaning we have calving potential for 2019.

As you can see, it’s not ready, fire, aim so much on putting beef in the freezer. We have to plan out years in advance. In order to keep growing, we are going to have to either find some farm land to lease/buy or change our operation to a finishing operation. That would mean we only buy stockers/weaners and don’t have bulls and momma cows. I’m resisting that option as long as I can, but with the demand for beef in the store, I’m getting pushed that way pretty hard. We’ll see how it goes.

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