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Unfair Advantages

Posted on December 7, 2009 07:14 by Blair Hunewill

During the height of irrigation season this summer I was fantasizing about ranching in an area where you could rely on rainfall to grow grass.  I spend all spring checking cows or irrigating.  By August I am ready to be done irrigating for another year.  I talked to my father about how nice it would be to live somewhere that didn’t require irrigation.  His response gave me a lot to think about.  He said, “Every place has it’s unfair advantages for cattle that allows them to compete with everybody else in this country.  One of our unfair advantages is our Forest Service permits that let us run pairs for a couple of dollars in summer.”


In addition to our mountain grazing permits we have the advantage of wintering our cattle at a lower elevation in a little milder climate.  As a grazer, we have another unfair advantage of having a very low cost of gain on our stocker and feeder calves.  Compared to a feedlot guy, we have a lot of flexibility in what we can profitably buy.  Because of our location, I can buy undervalued calves in Nevada and sell them over the mountains in California for an overvalued price.  Still, other places have their own unfair advantages that make me jealous.  More...