Sometimes one just needs to wonder and dream to learn something new. With all the excitement about DNA in the cattle business, one cannot help but learn something.
The cattle business is a fairly conservative business that is operated by fairly conservative people. As risk-takers in a high-risk environment, those in the cattle business have learned that conservative management seems to keep the operation around longer.
Maximum return is not the goal. Generally, the primary objective is a rather consistent return that gives the producer an opportunity to be around next year.
In some cases, the newly arrived expert is even perplexed. Why not listen to all the inputs, chitchat and multitudes of opinion and allocate all the dollars accordingly? The wiser, more experienced will say that with patience comes sanity, and with sanity, one still can appreciate raising cattle.
As cattle are sold and move through the production chain, the cattle may decrease in importance, but their investment opportunities may increase. Profit and loss actually may not be a product of burning the midnight ranch oil, but more embedded in the markets and how they move.
Spot markets always are active, but actual value and profit and loss are a long chain of accounts, with some being negative and some positive. The true value of a calf may have very little to do with who comes out on the positive side of the equation versus the one who loses.
However, back on the ranch, this year's calf crop is just starting to unfold, and attention is much more focused on survival, livability and brute strength.
In fact, calf value probably is not even mentioned very often. Although a 0 percent calf death loss is desired, the reality is that an operation will experience some loss. However, focusing on dead calves is futile because there is always a live calf on the way.
Now back to the conservative nature of ranching. Cattle are really not much different than the producers who manage them. Cattle that survive need an array of tools to fend off the elements and produce a living calf. Although management may provide some protection from the elements, as well as a good supply of food, cattle on the ranch need as large of a tool chest as possible to accomplish their desired outcome, which is to survive, reproduce and produce beef.
Just the other day, temperatures dropped 50 degrees when we went from slightly above thawing to almost minus 20. However, the cows survived. In fact, they actually handle these massive changes better than the producer. Why?