Monday, July 28, 2014

"How Are Farmers Making Money Off of 15 Beef Cattle?"

Interesting question:

Where I live, along a semi-rural route, you can see any number of smallholdings 10-30 acres with about 10-20 cattle standing on them (often sharing pasture with a couple of ponies or a donkey). They are generally Black Angus or Polled Herefords, so they are being eaten, not milked. I'm constantly wondering how on earth there can be any economic gain in that arrangement.

I have a few theories:
1) They are raising the cattle for their own use, and sell a few every year to a few friends and neighbors. (10 almost seems too many for that arrangement. I think it takes more than a year for the average family of 4 to eat a whole cow).
2) The animals are fine pedigreed breeding cattle that are sold to other breeders for prices higher than meat prices (although the conditions in which the cows are kept, while by no means inhumane, do not suggest the animals are of particular worth)
3) Somewhere there is a meat cooperative they can sell into (along the lines of Ocean Spray Cranberries).
4) They have a connection to a restaurant or gourmet buyer that is willing to pay extra for grass-fed, free range, never-feedlotted beef.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The most obvious answer is that a large cattleman is leasing the pasture from the small landholders.

My mother owns about 30 acres in Kansas and did that one summer. She only used the pasture to ride horses in, so it gave her a bit of money and kept her from having to mow the pasture. Only downside was having to dodge the piles of cow shit.