Sitting here (procrastinating) patiently waiting for my little Squeaky Man to fall DEEP asleep before I make too many weird noises cleaning, and putting away dishes & laundry.
These thoughts have been weighing on my mind very heavily for the past few days and in Honey’s mind for years. Literally, he has been talking about a FeedLot seriously for at least 7 or 8 years.
So here it is….My EXTREME conflict! We want/need to expand our operation to bring in more income so that Honey will not have to work in town. This means 2 different things will have to happen. (I am so conflicted, that I am tearing up talking about this)
Scenario 1 - We expand our old-school feeding operation and raise more beef in a natural setting, and sell more breeding stock (heifers, show calves or bulls). The main question is how do we really expand our beef sales.
Scenario 2 – We expand in a different way and build a cattle confinement feedlot for ~500 head. A completely enclosed, covered, confinement feedlot. We would bed the pens with corn-stalks and have a dry bedding mound for the calves to lay on. We would also probably try to allow double the "animal space" per actual head of calves. Thus giving them more room to move about.
I am very conflicted. You see, I am an “educated” rancher. What I mean is that I have an Animal Science BS degree from Iowa State (honey has an Ag Studies degree too). I have been taught all of the benefits of confinement feeding. This is a small list of benefits
1- Increased feed efficiencies (thus decreased feed costs)
2- Less chance of manure (nitrates) leaching into streams and contaminating them
3 - Increased “comfort” of the animal (THIS ONE I CAN ARGUE BOTH WAYS!!)
The list may go on and on. (I will expand and update later today as I think of them, but I have to get this blog out of my head, and out there for y’all to comment on, please)
Here is a small list of the benefits from continuing in a very “Old Fashioned” way of growing our operation slowly. Meaning that we will continue to grow slowly and increase our beef sales, bred heifer, show calf, and bull sales. Scenario 1
1 - Less impact on the environment (I can argue this both ways, this benefit is just from reduced numbers in one location ON the ground not tearing up the sod)
2- More direct relationship with the customer that has our beef on their table.
3 - A more natural environment for the cattle (pasture when we have grass, and more room to grow)
Well, these are my thoughts for now, and I’m sure that I will have tons more to come, as we really delve into this more and figure out what details we will decide upon, and what path we will take to pursue expansion of our operation.
I will prepare you that I do not mind talking dollars, and I WILL share some of our financial details.