• As a severe shortage of grass, hay, and corn is raising feed prices, many farmers and ranchers are desperately deciding whether they can afford to continue feeding their cattle, or to give up and sell off large parts of their herd.
With drought conditions the worst since the 1930s, most farmers and ranchers are cutting back, tightening their belts, and looking at all possible ways to cut their costs.
As a severe shortage of grass, hay, and corn is raising feed prices, many farmers and ranchers are desperately deciding whether they can afford to continue feeding their cattle, or to give up and sell off large parts of their herd.
“When the market is flooded with cattle, you don’t get much for selling your herd,” says Wade Rains, who manages 200 head of mama cows on 600 acres at the 4B Ranch in Bristow, Oklahoma. “Just like the stock market, you want to buy low and sell high. If you can hold out, now is not the time to sell.
For farmers and ranchers like Rains who adapt to the drought, this crisis can actually be an opportunity.
Many are finding ways to cut hay use by 30 percent or more, and slash labor costs. They are also taking advantage of eligibility for federal aid, including low-interest emergency loans, in half of the nation’s counties which are now deemed disaster areas due to the drought.
“One of the main ways we’ve been able to stretch our feed is through GoBob Hay Conserver feeders,” says Rains.
To reduce waste, “conserver” hay feeders force cattle to place their heads through metal bars to get at the hay. Any feed the cows drop falls back into the feeder where it can be eaten later.
“With the Hay Conserver feeders, cattle can eat what they need but don’t waste the hay,” says Rains. “We went from putting out several bales every day in each of our pastures to doing so every two or three days. We’re using about 40 percent less hay to feed the same number of cows, which is helping us to survive the drought.”
“Since we’re putting out bales less often, we’re also saving gas, labor, and vehicle wear and tear,” adds Rains.
By switching to more efficient GoBob cattle working equipment, Rains is also able to handle the workload of the 4B Ranch as its only full-time employee, saving the labor cost of several day workers for many operations. Cutting the cost of labor to the bone has helped the 4B Ranch to absorb the higher cost of feed during the prolonged drought.
“We’ve found that the GoBob adjustable alleys speed up the working process tremendously, and keep the cattle from turning around,” explains Rains
Rains has found that a more labor-efficient crowding tub has similar benefits to the 4B Ranch’s cattle working operations. “The gate adjusts so you don’t have to get down inside,” says Rains. “
Using a squeeze chute with rear controls, Rains finds that one man can smoothly run the chute with levers, instead of the two to three men required previously.
“Farmers and ranchers worried about the high cost of seed and feed during the long drought will find that new types of machinery will radically cut the cost of labor and quickly pay for themselves,” says Bob Studebaker, president of GoBob Pipe and Steel.
For instance, a new piece of equipment called the Accumulator is designed to allow one man to clear and accumulate an entire field of hay in a fraction of the time traditionally required. When used with an accompanying grapple, one person can rake, bale, accumulate, load, and store a 5-7 acre tract in a single day.
“Another innovative hay saving, labor saving piece of equipment is called the 2EZ Hydraulic Bale Mover,” adds Studebaker. “With this, one person can load, unload, and move up to six large round bales without breakage or loss, and never get out of their truck or tractor. Since its design keeps a single side of the bale in contact with the ground, it also saves hay by minimizing the number of bad hay spots caused by ground-absorbed moisture.”
Ultimately, the best advice to survive this drought and the next one may be to think creatively and find a supplier who knows farm and ranch supplies inside out, who can help to optimize resources, performance, productivity, and value.
GoBob Pipe and Steel offers a complete selection of quality feeders, fencing, hay trailers, pipe and guards, designed to help farmers and ranchers save money and labor by working better and more efficiently.
For more information, contact GoBob Pipe and Steel at 1-866-532-9123 or visit www.gobobpipe.com.