“The agriculture industry is changing and the ranching community is not immune to this change. It is increasingly more difficult to be profitable and sustainable in ranching when inputs and costs have dramatically increased, while returns have remained relatively constant,” said Tim Reinke, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) range management specialist and Coastal Prairies Grazingland Conservation Initiative (GLCI) coordinator. “The importance of this workshop was to provide landowners and managers the necessary tools to become or remain profitable in the tough economic times, while profiling ranchers who are successful in doing it.”
Speakers included local ranchers Steven Lukefahr of Lukefahr Cattle Ranch in Kleberg County and Daniel Boone of San Pedro Ranch in Dimmit County. Ranching for Profit trainer Dave Pratt of Ranch Management Consultants also spoke at the workshop.
Lukefahr presented information that focused on helping ranchers minimize production costs while maximizing returns. He focused on cattle bred specifically for resistance to South Texas obstacles, such as drought.
“Having the correct type of cattle is the first step to a successful, profitable ranch,” said Lukefahr. “Cattle from Africa, India, and similar climates have been subjected to natural selection, allowing them to be more heat tolerant.”
Keep the best and cull the rest was a reoccurring theme throughout the workshop. Boone manages a 24,000-acre ranch that is divided into 16 pastures where large scale rotational grazing is practiced. His livestock management philosophy is centered on utilizing efficient animals that will harvest standing grass with as few costs as possible.
Boone employs a rotational grazing system, believing that “the cattle will tell you when they want to be moved – only they know.” He said drought is not an obstacle, but an opportunity when used as a culling tool.
Pratt was the workshop’s keynote speaker. He spoke about cattle ranching profitability. “Seeing is believing. Believing is seeing. You must believe that your ranch can be a profitable, self-sustaining business in order to turn it into one,” Pratt said.
He explained that some producers focus on ranching’s lifestyle and working on a ranch, when they need to be focusing on the money and running the ranch as a business.
Pratt addressed the current drought situation with an ultimatum. “Crisis is a threat or an opportunity… you cannot wait for a crisis to make a change or else you will lose the opportunity.”
He encouraged producers to turn their ranch into a profitable business by preparing for a change, instead of when they are forced to make a change.
Dr. Poncho Hubert, who ranches in Riviera, was a workshop attendee. He said the workshop increased his awareness about business possibilities in ranching, along with the realities of ranching.
“After attending the seminar, I become more aware of the business possibilities with ranching, coupled with the reality of ranching. This program was able to help me identify, quantify and prioritize risks associated with ranching and develop options on how to deal with them,” Hubert said.