Flexibility in Forage Usage to Maximize Cash Flow

By  | 

Most ranchers are like dry land farmers in that they depend on whatever rainfall they get to grow their crop, which in a rancher’s case is forage for his cattle. But what if a rancher, like many farmers had the ability to irrigate? Tyler Jacobs and his father ranch in Montgomery County.

“I think the buzz term today is I’m a grass farmer, and I’m growing grass and I’m harvesting it with cattle or I’m harvesting it with a hay baler. Either way, I’m trying to manage that to the maximum cash flow. The cattle are the most efficient way to harvest the grass, and this year we have an abundance of forage for example, so we’re going to use that to our advantage and try and get our calves to town with the least hard expense in them we can get.”

Jacobs has the advantage of a water well and a pivot sprinkler to help them grow grass, whether it rains or not.

“Last year it was more advantageous to sell hay than maybe keep the calves. So this year’s probably going to be the other way around. I’m probably going to keep calves rather than, and graze my calves through the fall, maybe even through the spring rather than sell the hay. From everything I’ve seen there’s an abundance of hay out there this year. It’s mostly low to medium quality hay. And so there’s not enough margin for me at that market to justify baling the hay to sell it, so this year we’ll bale what we need and then we’ll grow the forage back for grazing and we’ll graze under this pivot instead.”

Having the ability to irrigate gives Jacobs options many other ranchers don’t have.

“So we try to stay a little bit understocked to give us a little bit of flexibility and last year it was actually pretty easy to bale a couple of extra cuttings and with the water we can double down on our fertilizer and everything becomes a little bit more efficient.”