By Jerry Nine
(Oct. 10)--It is nice to see green in these wheat fields. All the way from Oklahoma City to the west for at least 200 miles, farmers are either planting wheat while others have fields where the wheat is growing every day. And there are two or three cattlemen I know who already have some calves turned out on wheat. Whatever the case, it is just good to see green with potential for some wheat pasture. This past week our calf prices were $3 to $10 per hundredweight better than the week before. I could tell several buyers were buying those better 500-pound black heifers probably with the idea of excellent demand for heifers to breed this spring. If you are buying a set of heifers to breed, you are only kidding yourself if you save one that is wild. If you have a good quality set that is gentle, you always have a product that you can market at a good price anytime. Plus when you bring their calves or feeders back to the auction, we can almost always gain weight on a gentle set. I am amazed at the cattlemen that save heifers back for cows that are mixed colors or perhaps plain. It is too easy to switch and sell those heifers and buy a very nice set to breed. If you do that for only a few years you can completely change your cow herd with very little extra investment or trouble. It would be one of the smartest things you could do. If you are breeding heifers, I do not object to using a Longhorn bull. But you need to definitely spend $200 to $200 extra and get a solid-colored one. You can fake a lot of calf buyers out if they are solid colored. A lot of cattlemen would argue over using the Longhorn bulls and I like the straight Angus better, but I myself do not have time to check heifers that are calving and besides I don't have a wife to check them either. One rancher who has mixed colored cows uses Charolais bulls, which gave a very shapy calf and took most all the color out of his herd. In fact, you would swear those calves couldn't be out of those colored cows.
These next six months could be very interesting if we happen to get moisture back on several of these states that have had extra culling on their cow herds. The price could get very good for these bred cows and pairs and heifers to breed. If most are like me, you basically still have the same notes at the bank but only half the income after reducing your cow herd because of the drought. Tuesday the demand was a lot better for bred cows.
Be thankful if you have good health. One of my high school friends has been in a wheelchair for 12 years. I felt guilty after the reunion for ever thinking I was having a bad day.
Editor's note: Jerry Nine, Woodward, Okla., is a lifetime cattleman who grew up on his family's ranch near Laverne, Okla.