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Animal Health Notebook

Equipment, toys and other stuff you don’t need

Alan Newport Rancher in a UTV
When you add too many pieces of equipment to a beef operation, it's a heavy load for the cattle to bear. The question is what really helps you make money?
Profits head south when you start adding equipment and big boy toys to the cattle business.

I love bass fishing. I hate the problems and stress that come with boat ownership. I’ve owned a nice bass boat and it very nearly ruined my fishing fun. The same can be said of farm equipment and toys in consideration of ranching.

Grazing cattle and growing soil health and grass can be very profitable. Profits head south when equipment and toys are brought in on the ownership side. In our part of the country a list includes:

  • Tractors
  • ATV’s
  • Bush or brush hogs
  • Trailers
  • Wagons
  • Loaders
  • Vertical mixers
  • Most barns, storage units and silos
  • Over-engineered feed and water systems
  • Pretty fences

Addictions to pills, smoking weeds, vehicles, diesel fuel and fumes, fresh plowed soil, and freshly mown grass are all real and must be addressed if life is to be long, healthy, and enjoyable in the cattle business. The addictions can be overcome. The desire remains as does our weakness. Our job is to eliminate the killers. Toys and equipment are killers.

The late Harlan Rogers and his family were and still are major players in the cattle business in Mississippi and Texas ( Harlan used to say that a major problem and expense with equipment and toys was the need to be constantly finding jobs to justify ownership. He also remarked that most of the work was unnecessary. I agree.

Necessary items or equipment I have purchased and actually use include:

  • A used reliable, small pickup truck with a good heater. Four-wheel drive comes in handy, if seldom needed.
  • A fencing tool, framing hammer, small chain saw, loppers, 12- or 14-gauge wire that does not rust, and a good amount of nylon or plastic baling twine.
  • Eight or 10 polywire reels and 100 or more pigtail step-in posts.
  • A couple of fence energizers, including two 12-volt battery chargers and a good fence tester.
  • Several 140-gallon portable water tanks and some water lines.
  • Plastic buckets (free at the dump) to deliver supplement.
  • An $18, 2.5-gallon hand sprayer or two.
  • A hat, work gloves, pocket or belt knife, chain saw file and good boots.
  • Occasionally a rope and chain.At 499 our biggest source of ranch profitability is the result of extremely low-cost production and the elimination of expenses. Equipment and toys are much too weighty for our cattle to bear.
  • Most everything else I own is very difficult to find when I need it, which might be an indication I don't use it very much.
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