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Guest Blog

Read about different aspects of the industry from a variety of perspectives. Guest writers include cattle producers and beef industry experts.

LATEST

I passed an old motor home on the highway the other day with a bumper sticker that read “Mamaw and Papaw’s playhouse.” Randomly plastered on the sides and rear end of the motor home was a large collection of “official state stickers” (purchased at the same places that sell “official state souvenir spoons.”) That motor home looked an awful lot like some of the cows we see at the sale barn.

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Thanks to our Creator and the tilt of the Earth, winter is just starting to think about leaving us here on the Northern Plains. When summer finally comes, we can look back on the memories of this time and reminisce, with the warm breeze on our face while sipping a cool iced tea. Unsweetened, of course, because if you want sugar in your drink this far north, you have to order a pop.

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Maybe it’s my Celtic ancestry; maybe it’s my naivety; or maybe it’s just human nature – but I have always put a lot of sway in luck. When it comes to those of us in agriculture, I am hardly unique in my little superstitions.

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Turning on the light over the back door at 5 that morning revealed a layer of ice on everything, including the cattle trucks that had arrived in the compound overnight. Too bad a few hundred pounds of ice on the trucks wouldn’t work in my favor at the destination feedlot.

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I once asked a group of my students how many enterprises the typical cow-calf ranch has. Almost without fail they all said only one, the ranch.

The answer in most cases is usually around four: the calf enterprise (selling calves at weaning); the replacement heifers (be it raising your own or for sale); the hay; and a land enterprise (this is where you analyze lease value of the property).

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If I describe veterinary medicine as “colorful,” I’m sure the first image that pops into your head is that of the colorful language that is often utilized when a cow tries to go backwards down the alley. But no, veterinary care for our cattle involves a literal menagerie of colors that indicate everything from a cow’s health status to nutritional state. Sadly, the proper identification of those colors is mired in the chaos of subjectivity.

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