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Experience vs. Experts

Some things can't be taught from a book, sometimes it requires experience.

Doug Ferguson

July 9, 2021

6 Min Read

Five years ago, I was in the doctor’s office and my blood pressure was high, I was solid hypertension 2.  He urged me to get on blood pressure medication which I would have no part of. That brought us to the next discussion about diet and lifestyle with my beef consumption being one of the focal points. 
I’ll give my doctor credit, he also raises cattle so he gets it. He didn’t give me the red meat is bad talk, he just suggested dialing it down a bit and adding in some other proteins.

This week I was in the doc’s office and popped the lowest blood pressure reading I’ve had in almost 20 years, I’m back in the normal range (they checked it three times to be sure it was legit). I made some small lifestyle changes and diet changes, but I did not dial down my beef consumption. I eat it daily and the portions are not small.

Real life vs. Books

I trust my own experiences more than I trust experts because my results usually prove them wrong. I have read many articles the past few months that were written by experts that tell us something is not possible, or to do things a certain way. Well, I have seen enough of that and to be blunt I am calling these experts out and to step up to the task.

One article I read recently was written by a Senior Animal Science Specialist, on cattle handling facilities.  It included a Bud Box and had a diagram. I noticed right away that the hinge was on the wrong side of the gate. Now this is not too big of a deal. I’ve worked in these before and all you have to do is move to the other side of the alley after closing the gate to get in the correct position. But what was new is this is the first time I’ve seen a sweep gate inside the Bud Box. This defeats the whole point of what a Bud Box is supposed to do, use the cattle’s natural tendencies to create flow. The addition of the sweep suggests only one thing, he didn’t know how to properly use the Bud Box and added a devise to shove cattle into the alley.

Related:Summer Beef Demand Sizzles

Cattle marketing 101

Another article I read was written by a person with an MBA in economics. It was a two-part article one of which touched on cattle marketing. She stated cow calf operations have three ways to sell their cattle. One is to sell to stocker operations, or sell to a packer, or sell to a sale barn. Sell to a sale barn?

Clearly, she doesn’t know how it works.
She also wrote that commodities move in cycles and that means that sometimes the cow/calf operations win, and sometimes the packer wins. This is just not true.  If we market cattle with the sell/buy method we can win every time.
She went on to write that if you are going to be in the commodity business you must be large. What is large?  I know some people that think 100 head is pretty darn big. I think 100 head is small or a hobby. 

Related:Plan now for beef cattle’s winter hay needs

The thing is that 100 head is nothing to shake your head at. With sell/buy marketing 100 head can generate some serious income. With 100 head, making $50 per head profit and turn the inventory 4 times in a year will make $20,000, with just plain commodity cattle.

Market literacy

Here is my favorite line “commodity production is governed by a ruthlessly brutal dictator, the market”. She is right to a point. If you do not utilize the market correctly it can punish you. If you utilize it properly, meaning you must have market literacy, it will help you.

With market literacy we can spot price relationships and capitalize on them and generate positive cash flow. We never see the experts with fancy job titles or letters attached to their name write about price relationships. That’s key to earning money making it to important to leave out.

When I read articles that state you have to be a large operation I know how discouraging that is to a young person. I started from scratch, I know what it feels like to have someone discourage your dreams.  I know the struggles. I also never would have gotten to where I am without the knowledge of sell/buy marketing. So when I read things like that I wonder just who do they think they are helping, and what is farm media thinking allowing this kind of message?

Starting from the bottom

We all know someone who wanted to raise cattle for a living but was strongly discouraged from doing it.  So they go to school to get credentials and begin a career in something else. If they had received the right message and had received the right information, they could have done what they wanted instead of bearing the burden of a job they don’t like.
This is why people like me teach marketing schools.

For more information click here   I would love the chance to make all of you master marketers and prove these experts wrong.

I know the tuition seems high. Here’s the rub, young people are spending more than that on college to gain credentials to get a job you don’t want, so compared to that this is cheap. In the grand scheme of things cattle and feed will cost much more, but with the skills I will teach, you will make it work. Now when we look at it that way the school is terribly undervalued.

People get upset when I get sideways with credentials. I believe education is necessary.  Someone had to teach me the things I know.  My education was unconventional and practical. When you do what I do job titles and letters attached to a name mean nothing. That new pen of cattle do not care if we did a good job with the previous pen and believe we are excellent stockmen.  We have to prove it to them, everyday. It doesn’t matter if we think we are excellent marketers, or what the neighbors think of our marketing.  We have to prove we are excellent every time we show up at an auction. That’s what matters because that’s what supports the family.

Going back to the beginning

The market has been hinting that we are getting back to being a weight gain business and this week the market solidified that. Value of gain was mostly over a dollar on cattle weighing up to 900#, with a few random blips that slipped below that. The VOG on flyweights is pushing $2 at some auctions. Stocker, back grounder and cow calf operations should be feeling pretty good about this. I know I shouldn’t tell you all how to feel but I said what I said.

The bad news is that the rise in feeder prices has once again made fats undervalued.
Geographical spreads are in play in a big way this week. Making a bull hauler your best friend can save or make you a big wad of cash.

Big bunches of cattle sold notably better this week. Load lots in the south caught a premium of $12 or more. The guys that pieced together cattle earlier in the year and sold these value -added loads proved their credentials in the commodity game.


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