Ohio Land and Cattle is located in East Central Ohio, near Cadiz. It consists of 8000 acres.
It is an operating ranch with some 1000 head, thriving year round on the grass. Cattle are registered Black Angus.
God Made a Farmer
Herd Sires are selected from the very top of large peer groups of 200-500 bulls.
They are selected for a combination of calving ease, masculinity, muscling, structure, fleshing ability, hair coat, growth, and disposition.
The largest, outside genetic influences are from Pinebank (New Zealand), Pharo Cattle Company, and Wye. The genetic program is very simple. We buy and develop the very best bulls, capable of reproducing cows that thrive in East Central Ohio, problem free, on ranch resources and year round grazing. Bulls are the very top, selected from large peer groups, 200-500 in a group. Cows are raised on the ranch and have a single task, wean a calf, on time, problem free. Every cow that is late, open, aggressive, or needed assistance for her or her calf, is removed from the herd. The type cow which thrives at this task, is moderate in size, 1100-1200 pounds, winters well, easy fleshing, moderate in milk, and moderate in growth.
Seventy percent of the cull pen is made up of the taller, higher milking, higher growth, portion of the herd, year after year. The cow herd is viewed as a genetic pool, which is why emphasis is placed on the very top bulls. Cow emphasis is on function, a cow with top genetics, which fails to calve on time, or has any other problem, is culled, regardless of her genetics.
Everything starts with a live calf. Bull calves average 65 to 72 pounds, heifers average 62 to 67 pounds. Less than 2 percent are born outside that range.
Roughly 1% require assistance at birth, usually heifers. Heifers are calved with the cows with no additional labor or development. Every dam requiring assistance is removed from the herd.
Low Input Management
Low input management is a term without a definition.
The easiest dollar ever made, is the one you did not spend.
If we managed our 8000 acres, and 1600 head, as my prior vet suggested, and then sold into the commodity market, this would be a losing business.
The ideal business model is, low input management, good genetics via bulls, good grass management, and selling into a premium markets.
Below are some ideas:
Why worm cattle? Depending on the article you read, it reduces the grass production by 10-20%, as it reduces the soil biology, which in turn reduces grass production. Cattle should be able to perform and produce with a small worm load. Health is key in fighting off a worm load.
Wormer and meds cost money, and consume labor.
Labor cost's money, and has risk. Two years ago, working bulls, I was kicked on the side of the knee, it popped out, went back in, high pain, and a year to heal. In the past 3 years, two animals ran past the sorter, into a bull gate and broke their neck. We quickly hang them, and process them. This cost's money. Had we not been working them, none of the above would have occurred.
We have not vaccinated cows for 10 years. Our death loss is lower than when we were vaccinating, along with costs. However, when we sell steers, we will follow the protocol the customer asks, we will worm them on request, and give a single shot of Vista Once, and Enforce 3. Working the cattle produces more stress than the meds fix........... Stress is the enemy of cattle.
Two years ago we lost 6 calves in two days to blackleg, a bad day. If we measured the value of the 6 calves against working 1000 cows for 10 years, financially, I will take the dead calves.
Most steers are sold as all natural, and bring 5 cents above the top of the market, because there are no meds..
We have a registered herd and a commercial herd. We need the registered as we sell bulls, and registered females. There is a cost to the registered herd, as we need to check calves each day, weigh them, register them, and, the Angus Association seems to invent a new genetic defect each year, which requires DNA testing. This is $18 per head, plus labor. And, there are machinery costs in this checking cattle, bearings, axles, drive shafts, fuel, etc.. Two cattle have had a defect in 10 years. (The Angus Association owns a testing facility, HMM.)
The commercial herd supplies our grass finished beef customers, no tagging, no weighing, little labor, i.e., drive thru and check calves every week. We must have both registered and commercial, however, we will build the commercial herd more as we go, and get the same money.
The past 3 years, we have ceased weaning heifers, leave them with their mothers and they learn how to break ice, eat thru snow, are protected by their mother's from predation, etc.. This past year, we sorted off potential bull calves and wintered them with their mothers (mothers were already bred). Both worked well. We have had one cow permit nursing a prior calf while nursing the new calf, and she is now harvested.
As an aside on protection, we have added a donkey to each group as protector's (female donkeys's only)
Please consider the amount of labor and costs eliminated, so far in this discussion.
This past year we sold a large group of bulls. A few customers were disappointed early on, however, they are comparing forage developed bulls with grain developed. The bulls went thru winter on grass, low cost. But, add the idea that winter is a management tool. If someone wants pretty cattle year round, it is simple, park a feed truck in their midst. We have two bulls which are 3/4 brothers, one went thru winter pig fat, the other looked like he was from a concentration camp. Winter is a tool to assess genetic performance. Without pressure, we lose the ability to judge animals.
Consider animal classes:
- A cow calves and consumes 40% more forage than a young female.
- A steer gains weight.
- A young female gains weight and calves.
The meat buyers want cattle under 30 months, this a mistake in my opinion. Our favorite meat is a 5 year old, pig fat cow. For our use we get the entire cow. For retail use, some middle meats and bone are lost with the BSE issue, however, her carcass is larger, and more than offsets the loss of middle meats and bone. Selling a cow prior to 7 years old promotes herd turnover, and a younger herd, with better genetics, and less problems, assuming calving ease bulls. ..................Turnover matters.
If there is a concern about tenderness, buy a Jaccard on Amazon, $13 (tenderizer).
Grass management is interesting:
We follow Jim Gerrish's model, that is, here, we have 30 pastures, eat the top half, leave the bottom half.
We sold a herd to a close friend who is strip grazing, and our cattle did OK, but not great. Strip grazing is the ultimate test of genetics.
Buying cattle from a farm, feeding months per year, and moving to a ranch, grazing year round, is a loser all day. The cattle are open and hard keeping and fall out in two years. However, the reverse direction works fine, strip grazing, to a ranch, ranch to a farm.
Forget about the idea of moving cattle, never east, and never south. It is management models that matter most.
Cattle that work best are moderate in size, calving ease, WW/growth (EPD below 40), milk EPD 15 and down, with high efficiency (above 20 $EN).
Gavin Fallon, 90 years old, has one of the best breeding programs in the world, and we spent 4 days with he and his lovely wife, in New Zealand a couple years ago. He said something interesting. With a herd of 800 cows, 400 bull calves each year, over 65 years, they would have a game changing bull every 10 years, that is one bull of 4000. Now then, if someone comes here, or anywhere else, with the idea of picking out that game changing bull as a yearling, or 2 year old, forget it. Pick out a good bull, at a reasonable price. The game changers are hard to identify until they are almost dead of old age. Keep the bull cost's down.
Better yet, make money with bulls, lease them before and after your breeding season, sell them at 4 or 5 years old while they have value, and buy a new one. Turnover bulls while they have value. Share there cost with a neighbor. Every bull will consume twice the forage of a young female.
We do not AI, it is like a dating service, pretty pictures, no other information, and a bunch of work. We want to see bulls winter, be absent of injuries, etc.............. We need to see them work.
We do not preg check, we simply leave a single bull with each group for 6 months. A late calf is better than no calf, and cull the cow the following year. With a premium outlet for open cows, and an annual cow cost of $293, it does not financially matter.
We need premium outlets, an 1100 pound should hang at 60%, and sell wholesale for $2000+, retail for $3000, by the piece for $4000.
Genetics are key, short, thick, heavy, easy fleshing. Here, it is Pinebank, Pharo, Wye, breeding.
I have tried every mineral program there is: Free choice minerals, high end salt and kelp, cheap minerals and salt, and have seen little difference, other than in my checking account.
Additionally, the calving season spread out a bit is good for the grass fed supply chain. This is opposite the industry which wants the convenience of a tight calving season.
When someone that says they do not have an outlet for grass finished beef. My first question is, what have you done to find an outlet?, and usually the answer is "nothing". Retailers need sources, find them, on the web, phonebooks, Facebook, etc..
Heifers are bred at 13-15 months of age, after wintering with the cow herd, on grass, with no other input, except minerals. Bulls are wintered and developed on forage, alone.
Assume $15 per acre land rental/ownership. Further assume 10 acres per cow, which includes water, ownership and taxes to the middle of the roads, plus forest.
Mineral program is at $16 per head annually.
No worming, soil biology matters. Worming decreases grass production 10-20%.
17 herd bulls make money through sales and leasing, therefore we attach no breeding costs.
Equipment costs are $150k, amortized over 7 years, tractors and trucks last longer, Rangers last shorter, $35 per head per year.
Hay costs are $4 per year, no hay the last 6 years, Interstate I-70 is near the line where that is possible, further north, is tougher.
Fence maintenance is $1000 per year.
Labor is $48k per year.
Fuel/gas is $300 per month
Two working facilities are 110k, amortized over 30 years, $1 per head per year.
Cow costs are $293 per year.
Note, there are no depreciation costs, as the turn over on cows, below 6 years of age is kept high, producing a young, elite, appreciating, herd. Cows over 6 depreciate back to the commodity market.
Bulls: Profit, Not a Cost
Bulls are a profit center, not a cost:
East of the Mississippi River, the average herd is 18 cows.
It is difficult to justify a $5000 dollar bull, or is it?
Imagine a farmer / rancher wants the best stock.
A cow will influence the herd by 8-10 cows on average, in a life time.
A bull will potentially influence hundreds, over a life time.
The genetic investment should be in bulls.
Bulls, cost money, they consume forage, and require separation during the non breeding season.
How might these costs be mitigated?
We produce several hundred bulls per year, and cull down to the top 25%, keeping the best of the best.
In turn, we choose the top 5, which are available for a swap in 2 years, for a comparable, top bull, at no charge.
We calve in May/June, most calve earlier, many calve in fall. We lease bulls, $750 per month for a 2 month minimum. A benefit of leasing is eliminating the need for separation outside of the breeding season, and no forage resources are used outside of the breeding season. That forage can otherwise be used for increased stocking.
Turn over the bull at 4-6 years old while he still has value, for sale, or exchange with a friend with similar thinking and genetics. It is possible to buy one good bull, and thru swapping and leasing, not buy another bull for 10+ years.
It is realistic to buy a bull for $2500, lease him 4 times for a total of $6,000, sell him at 6 years old for $2500, or exchange him.
Bulls can make money, and not cost money.
Ohio Land and Cattle is first, a business. As a business, it has resources in land, forage, cattle, fish, fence, and equipment. Its responsibility is to produce the greatest revenue, relative to costs. This is accomplished with a profit per acre business model. This model minimizes equipment, labor, and inputs (costs), and maximizes protein production per acre (income).
Production is increased with grass management, the right cow- size and type, genetics, and management. These combined principles produce the highest possible stocking rate, and highest production per acre. Stocking rate effects profits more then any other factor.
This ranch uses Management Intensive Grazing, i.e., the top half of forage is grazed, and cattle are rotated to new pasture, permitting sufficient rest for the grazed pasture. MOB grazing will play a role in the future.
Production is increased with the moderate type cow and their genetics. Each year, the following observations are confirmed: the physically shorter/thicker half of the herd, which includes heifers and second calvers, produce a calf which weans a higher percentage of the dam's body weight, and sells at a higher price per pound. Because the cow is shorter/thicker, her forage requirements are less, which permits an increase in stocking rate. Shorter, thicker cattle have a higher relative intake, I.E. they eat more for their size and flesh easier, which increases fertility. A younger female, who will gain and produce a calf, is economically superior, to a steer who will gain only, or a cow who will calve only. Consequently, the ranch has more, slightly, smaller calves (30 pounds less), which sell at a higher price per pound, and more total pounds are produced with the additional calves and stocking per acre.
The genetics are moderate in growth, milk, size, low in birth weight for calving ease, and low in maintenance requirements (high $EN). These characteristics produce cattle capable of finishing/marbling on grass, every bit as well as cattle finishing on grain in the feedlot. This makes the cattle attractive in the Grass Finished market place, at a premium price, and they finish in the commodity market in fewer days, with less feed. Typical transactions are roughly double the commodity market.
Management increases stocking rates with strict culling; every late, open, calving problem, physical problem, harder fleshing, hard wintering, and disposition problem, is culled every year. May calving, reduces forage requirements in winter, and matches the peak forage requirements with the peak forage availability.
Interestingly, the production differentiation between the physically taller group, and the physically shorter group is narrowing each year, as 70% of the cull pen is from the physically taller group. The physically taller group is the greatest source of opens and lates and winter harder. The cattle are becoming more uniform, and are defining the optimal size and type for this ranch, and low input management.
The characteristics of most cattle in the culling pen are what should be avoided. The characteristics of the cattle remaining in production are reproduced, using bulls consistent with the cow type remaining in production.
Ranch management is not defining the desired type and genetics, the cattle are defining the ideal type and genetics, under this environment and management.
Revenue is increased in several other ways, selling bulls, females, grass finished beef, hunting and fishing operations, etc.
Costs are limited. With the need for hay limited to a winter storm which produces more than 2 feet of snow, there is little need for most equipment and labor. The stockpile of hay kept in inventory is purchased, it is usually 2 year old hay which reduces its cost. A benefit of buying hay, is the ranch is importing those nutrients onto the ranch.
East central Ohio has some of the best whitetail deer and turkey hunting in the country. The quality of the deer are further enhanced with careful management and rules. Ohio Land and Cattle maintains a 1000 acre sanctuary, on its 8000 (over 9 square miles) acres of managed area. No bucks are harvested which have under 135 inches of antler. There are no deer drives permitted, as drives are the largest source of wounded deer and misjudgements of antler size. Turkeys are everywhere.
To schedule a hunt with an outfitter, see
Grass Finished Beef
Grass finished beef is tasty and healthy. Cattle are raised on pastures with a high percentage of legumes, they are harvested when they are well marbled. No chemicals, hormones, or antibiotics are used. Cattle are as well marbled as corn finished beef, and have much more flavor.
Beef is sold by the animal, half, or quarter.
The following link discusses the health benefits of grass fed beef, TallGrassBeef.com
For articles, cookbooks and books, on Grass finished beef and farming, see Eatwild.com
Buy a meat tenderizer, we use it for every cut: Tenderizer
Power Steer: The life of a feed lot steer - Michael Pollan
Buying Bulk Beef
When your animal is processed, a certain amount of bone gristle and fat are removed when the carcass is cut and wrapped. Depending on your choice of cuts and your choice of bone-in or bone-out steaks and roast, the take home weight may vary by as much as 79 lbs on a whole animal.
Because of this variation we sell our animals on the pre-cut weight for hanging carcass weights, which is about 60% of the live weight of the animal. Our average carcass will weigh approximately 675 lbs.
Average Live weight 1125 lbs. x 60% hanging carcass weight (HCW)
Whole animal averages 675 lbs. x $4.50/lb. = $3,037.50
WHOLE BEEF - $4.50/lb. HCW
50 steaks (1.25" thick)
28 roasts (2.4 lbs./ea.)
130 lbs. ground beef (1 lb./pack)
Any of the cuts below can be ground
to increase the amount of ground beef
14 cube steak (1 lb./pack)
2 brisket (weight varies)
2 flank steak (weight varies)
2 skirt steak (weight varies)
4 short ribs (2 lbs.)
8 soup bones (2 lbs.)
HALF BEEF - $4.75/lb. HCW
25 steaks (1.25" thick)
14 roasts (2-4lbs./ea.)
65 lbs. ground beef (1 lb./pack)
Any of the cuts below can be ground
to increase the amount of ground beef
7 cube steak (1 lb./pack)
1 brisket (weight varies)
1 flank steak (weight varies)
1 skirt steak (weight varies)
2 short ribs (2 lbs.)
6 soup bones (2 lbs.)
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Below are books and articles highly recommended
• Knowledge Rich Ranching / Allan Nation
• Grassfed to Finish / Allan Nation
• Quality Pasture /Allan Nation
• Land, Livestock, and Life /Allan Nation
• Get the Hay Out/Jim Gerrish
The books above can be purchased from Stockman Grass Farmer
• How Not to Go Broke Ranching / Walt Davis waltdavisranch.com
• Is the Angus Breed on the Right Track?Link to Article
• Allan Savory on the world becoming a desert, and cattle as the solution Link to video
• Johann Zietsman: Video on stocking rate as the largest factor in profitability, high density grazing, etc... Link to video
To buy his book, "required reading", see: Link to book
• Kit Pharo, Low input Business model/Management Link to video
• Body Condition and Its Importance Link to Article
Ohio Land and Cattle
Cadiz, Ohio 43907
Travel to Cadiz Ohio, Drive 5.1 miles southeast on St Rt. 250, Turn right on Jamison Rd, Drive 9/10ths of a mile, Turn right into the drive