Finding breakeven in challenging times
By Jerry Nine
(May 8)—Frustrating is one word that comes to mind when thinking about the cattle market lately. And other words I cannot put on paper. Almost always after a long period of losses on cattle coming out of the feedlot—then we would adjust the feeder prices to where they would often make good money the next turn.
However, this long dry spell has lasted basically several years. And after each cycle of cattle losing money—feeders did not cheapen up like they normally would have. Several years ago everyone feeding cattle planned on making money on every turn of cattle. Then a lot of independent feedlots were content with hedging their cattle for a breakeven and let the feedlot that they owned make the small consistent profit. However, if you misfigured or do not get all your items contracted right—then the breakeven soon was a loss for several hundred dollars per head. That’s basically the situation a lot of independents are faced with today.
A year ago grains made such a huge rally that losses were inevitable. But all this time calf and feeder prices stayed good with everyone still betting on a better market. Now those losses have carried down to feeder cattle, which will more than likely carry down to calves.
Then add a drought to the situation and it really does make it tough. From Woodward east the moisture is better. The farther west of Woodward you go, it gets dry fast. I wasn’t really planning on it being a bed of roses, but I really didn’t plan on it being a cactus patch either.
In the long run if it takes a lower market to get these individual feedlots to make money, then perhaps it is best for us. We do not need for our business to end like the hog and chicken business with huge corporations controlling the whole market.
Some wheat hay is being baled and I figured there will be a lot more.
A friend of mine said the other day that if he died and if there was such a thing as reincarnation, he would like to come back as a bull. Another friend spoke up and said, “I don’t know why you would want to come back as a bull, because within a few days I’m sure you would soon be a steer as plain as you are.”
Two weeks ago at the sale we sold the most big cattle we had ever sold at one sale with 85 percent of them weighing 850 pounds and more. There was only one week that was that lopsided.
A cowboy at the coffee shop said when he was 20 years old he drank a half of a pint of whiskey every morning for several years. Another man spoke up and said, “I have been at the bar with you several times and never once did I see you drink only half of anything.”
Sunday is Mother’s Day. Do something nice for your mother. And if she is no longer living then do something nice for some other lady and tell her happy Mother’s Day. Moms are a great thing. They like you even when Dad is mad at you. Trust me, I remember. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.
Editor’s note: Jerry Nine, Woodward, Okla., is a lifetime cattleman who grew up on his family’s ranch near Laverne, Okla.