Episode-1558- Getting into Cattle Ranching on a Shoestring Budget
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Lucas Branham is a 32 year old aspiring rancher from Taylorsville, KY. He has worked two jobs around 55 hours per week for the last 14 years. He has grown tired of the grind and wants to spend more time with family and work from a home based operation.
He’s started a small cattle operation on leased land with 14 head currently and soon to be 30. He ran a small csa and pastured broiler operation in 2014.
Lucas joins us today to provide advice on securing funds for start up cattle operation, securing leased land, running cattle on a shoestring budget, and how to start making the transition to self employed while keeping wife/family happy and involved.
We discuss how he got started, where he sought his funding, how he found land to lease and his future plans. We discuss the funding that is available to ranchers, how you can use leased land operations to eventually secure a loan to purchase land and more.
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Ha, I recognized that Loo’aville accent immediately!! Glad you are living the dream!
It’s definitely been fun. If we can make it work. It should be a great life in the next several years.
Lucas, you mentioned staying at your job for insurance and cutting your hours to 20 hours a week. You may want to check to make sure you will still get insurance at 20 hours a week. most places I know of want at least 30 hours a week to qualify for insurance. That’s been a hurdle for me. Good luck
Lucas, instead of selling your cattle at market, how about selling them to locals, i.e., family and friends? Your animals are raised in a healthy and humane way and there are plenty of people are willing to pay extra for that. There is also a market for soup bones from pastured animals. Weston Price people are looking for quality soup bones and you could sell shank cuts at a premium for those looking to make a good beef broth. Those same customers would likely end up buying ground beef, tallow etc that might get very little return in a standard market. I would hope that by marketing your valuable product you could benefit financially for all the hard work you put into your operation. Jack always talks about adding value to products and this could be one way.
Do you have any mature trees in your pasture? Don’t know if silvopasture is helpful in your situation or makes it difficult with movable fences. Didn’t know if you looked into amending your soil with minerals, like kelp, sea salt, etc?
Don’t know if this was your first interview, but you did a great job, very focused and informative.
Good job lucas, thanks for sharing! Baby’s favorite baby food is beef broth made from bones we bought from our local version of you. Glad you are doing this.
Good job Lucas! Great interview and good to see folks jumping in and getting stuff done.
“the first time someone handed me $7 for a dozen duck eggs….” You’re right Jack. Sold my first dozen chicken eggs last week. $4 is not much, but it sure felt good!
I work for a very large company. They provide full family coverage to all employees. Even part time. Thanks for the heads up though.
I am going to offer the cattle for sale locally before I go to the sale barn. It should be much more economical to buy my cows even with the processing costs than buying at the grocery store. I hope that I can make that happen. There is a processor about 10 minutes from the farm that I have already spoken to about it.
This was my first interview. I was a bit nervous. But it is surprisingly easy to talk about something you’re passionate about. I really hope the interview helps others interested in the things that I am doing.
You might put them up on craigslist or some other tool several months before you are ready to send them to the freezer. Set your target harvest date and price and get it up early. This gives your customers time to save up money if they need to and it gives you longer exposure to make sure you get them all sold. It does take a bit of organization to sell direct, but it might be worth it for the extra profits.
We just put up a rotational grazing system with electric fence and poly wire. We are first timers with cows and almost lost one as well this winter. If you are interested in setting up your own managed rotational graze paddock system, I have included a great resource in the video description here that helps you to calculate the number of cells you will need and the appropriate size to rotate every X number of days. https://youtu.be/iG8Hsd0EThw
I’m not saying this video series is the gospel on setting up your graze, its just how we did it. I already have better ideas for the next one we set up. The final video (part 4) has a complete breakdown of costs. Hope this helps someone out there.
Lucas, a few things to consider. I have an average size cow /calf operation of 100 head of fancy angus unregistered cows. I got started by doing a grass lease with an experienced rancher who helped me through the learning curves. My husband and I are in our 60’s, so it is very possible to do this business for older folks. To clarify even more, it is really my business and has been very important in filing the gaps on our yearly finanaces. The point here is women ranchers have an advantage with financing and support programs. I got started a few years before you right around 2010. About that land you are interested in; we bought our first 150 acres by doing a private treaty land contract with an older rancher. He wanted to structure his payments to avoid a big tax burden. It was structured over a 5 year period. Then we were able to purchase the 50 acres next door with a farm and ranch loan with very low interest. Also the retired rancher wanted to keep cattle on the property while we learned the cattle business. This helped us quite a bit in learning how to select cows for our larger operation. One last comment; feeders if done right are very profitable and in some ways easier than a cow calf operation. We are moving into feeders and buy long yearlings that are then run from may to october. This gets us out of cattle for winter operations and removes the hay burden. Good luck with your operation. Like you I have found people want to share information and help you even for the big things like branding and castrating the calves. It is part of the culture and lifestyle of ranching. Welcome to the clan!
Good job in the interview. You didn’t sound nervous to me. I love hearing these type of stories because it helps me keep my eye on the end prize. Keep up the good work.
I was wondering if you would consider sharing some of your business plan (maybe pull off your personal info). I’ve found it hard to find decent plans available and it would be a lot easier to customize a plan that is close to what you want than to try to create one from scratch for those of us with no business training. Some of us might even be willing to pay a small fee for something that just needs a little tweaking for our local markets.
We will be looking at doing this here soon on the 44 acres I’m in the process of buying. We’ll be looking at running native sheep and native cattle breeds in a silvopasture model. Some things in life you just gotta get out there and do.
I’m sure that raising feeders can be a very good business. It seems to me that the main problem with it is the time it takes. I would love to expand and do more down the road, but my current situation doesn’t allow. Thanks for the encouragement and tips.
I hope the information helps others do the same. Thanks for the encouragement.
I am willing to share as much as I can. Just send me an email or Facebook message with specific questions.
Good luck with your land purchase and operation. I agree. Don’t waste too much time planning. Be realistic with your numbers and if it looks like it can make a profit after startup. Then go for it.