Sustainability and profitability, that are what I’m “big” on. So when I learn of something that is hurting fellow ranchers, just so someone can make a buck, I get a little upset. I wanted to share one of those things that just irk me. Irk is putting it mildly. Frankly, I was so angry when I learned of it that I was stuttering.
It’s a common practice, probably more common than I would ever want to know. What is it? It involves buying groups of yearling heifers, breeding them, and selling them as bred heifers. Sounds good enough, right? It’s fine. Until you hear some of the numbers!
I’m all for someone taking a group of heifers, breeding them, and selling them as bred heifers. People need to purchase heifers, there is a demand. Nothing wrong with doing something to meet that demand. And nothing wrong with making money while doing it.
People buy lots of heifers–100s of heifers–and breed them. All well and fine. My issue comes in when a large percentage of those heifers won’t breed. They sell the bred heifers as bred; the opens as feeders. Sounds okay, right?
But lets examine this: What if I told you that for ever 100 heifers, 40 were sold as bred heifers and 60 were sold as feeders? That means only 40% of the heifers bred! What would you consider acceptable? 50%? 60%? 90%?
From my understanding–which I don’t remember exactly where I got the info, but it was a reliable source–on average 20% open rate is standard! 20%!!! Are you kidding me??? No wonder ranchers get more income from cull cows on an annual basis than from calf sales! Seriously, 20%?!
If you have 1,000 cows, how could you afford to stay in business if 200 wouldn’t breed?!
Now, here’s the question…who’s to blame? The bulls, the cows, or the operator?