Investment advice for a start-up herd of cattle


In cattle breeding, financial resources are always limited, especially for beginners. Flesher brothers, Jerrett and Jentry, in their twenties, from Randolph County, Indiana, have been there and managed to create a small herd of cows in just five years. We’ve listed five investment alternatives – land, genetics, people / education, machinery, and facilities – and asked them for their best advice on how to prioritize scarce dollars.

1. Genetics

The brothers agree that this is number 1. Genetics impact a herd in several ways, they say. With a focus on quality beef for a growing frozen beef business, it’s a priority that they give better value than grocery store meat. The Fleshers have invested in cows and bulls that deliver high quality calves to produce tender and flavorful meat.

Genetics also extend to healthy production traits. “When we buy bulls, we pay special attention to EPDs [expected progeny difference] for factors such as ease of calving, udder quality and feedlot efficiency, ”Jentry explains. “We select cattle which have a good temperament and which are calm. This makes them safer and the calm cattle also work better in the feedlot. ”

Angus cows, he adds, tick a lot of important boxes.

2. People / Education

The brothers both graduated from Purdue University in agriculture, but their education continues on the farm. Their father, Joel, who has been in the cattle industry himself, is their mentor. They have also established a good relationship with their local veterinarian, Philip Howell, who has his own purebred herd and shares his production knowledge beyond his health expertise.

They also tap into the knowledge and help of Rollin Jackson, a longtime employee of their father’s farm.

“Don’t be afraid to seek help and ask questions of various sources,” Jentry explains. “Listen to other producers who know livestock.

The point of education goes beyond knowing the cows, adds Jerrett. “The frozen beef business also allows us to educate our beef customers,” he says. “The two most common questions asked by customers are, ‘What do you feed? “And” What kind of care do you give? We want to be ahead of them on these concerns. ”

3. Facilities

“We were fortunate to have a base on our father’s farm, where there were cattle in the past,” Jerrett says. “We added things like automatic drinkers and feeders as we could justify. We have invested in a good calving barn and a good working chute. It is important. When our vet comes in he says he loves our facility, and he knows we’re ready for him.

4. Land

The Flesher brothers started their herd of cattle on rental pasture on the fringes of their father’s crop farm. It is hilly terrain crossed by a stream and not very suitable for row crops, but it serves the cows well.

“We started from the theory that there is no shame in renting land,” Jentry explains. Indeed, he adds, you can sometimes rent a pasture land at a better price than owning it. “Pastures are hard to find, so we are always on the lookout for opportunities that arise around us. ”

5. Machines

While some people start with this investment, it is actually last on the Fleshers’ priority list. Shiny new gear can sink a farm, they think. It’s not that they oppose investing in machinery, it’s just that it doesn’t need to be sophisticated for livestock.

They use older tractors and hay equipment from the 1970s. “We keep them in good working order and they meet our needs,” Jerrett says.

Corn silage is the basis of their feedlot rations, and they have a neighbor who cuts it to measure for them. It’s a piece of equipment they don’t need to own.

Come to think of it, the brothers agree that their most valuable machine is a New Holland skid steer loader. “We feed the silage, dispose of the livestock lots and transport the manure with it,” Jerrett explains. “We can justify upgrading it every few years.

Investment bonus: Marketing / Sales

Jerrett and Jentry think this should be a sixth investment choice for novice breeders. “We use social media to tell people about our cattle,” Jerrett explains. “We have an agricultural drone to take videos that we post online. We get a lot of questions because of this and also find new customers. It is very important for young producers to educate our communities about agriculture.

About the farm

Name: Flesher Farms Frozen Beef
The owners: Jerrett (28) and Jentry (26)
Site: Randolph County, Indiana
Begin: 2016
What theyre doing: Sell ​​finished cattle and frozen beef from an Angus herd of 45 cows, with some purchased calves added to the feedlot.
Advantages : Frozen quarters and half-carcasses sell for 20 cents per pound live weight.
Where to find them: On Facebook, Flesher Farms Beef Freezer
Financial credit: The brothers both have lines of credit from Farm Credit Services and their local bank which they can use as needed.
Growth plans: As the land becomes available, they would like to grow to around 75 cows, with an emphasis on quality and not quantity. They recently bought their first plot of land using the Early Years Farmer Loan program through FSA.
Outside the farm: Jerrett works part-time as an auctioneer and Jentry sells farm insurance, two careers that allow flexibility in managing the cattle herd.
Best Advice: Cattle farming lends itself to a small start and slow growth, and only to the extent that cash flow permits.


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