If you’ve noticed more and more beef producers moving their cattle to part-time or year-round indoor beef facilities, you’re not alone. Whether they’re a one-person operation or a small family farm, they did their research and got answers to a few common questions: “When is the right time? What is the right size? What’s the perfect solution for my beef operation?”
The following information, based on the White Paper Is feeding cattle Indoors a Good Decision for My Farm?, is a good first step to helping you get answers to those same questions and determine if a 299-head beef barn is right for you.
1. Do I have the capital?Feeding your cattle indoors can lead to labor, feed and pasture cost savings. It can also help you optimize your herd’s performance by giving you greater control over nutrient intake.
Feeding cattle indoors is a capital-intensive business. That’s why the Russell Consulting Group, one of the leading marketing and financial advisory firms for crop and livestock farmers in this part of the country, recommends that you plan to have “your working capital equal to or greater than 50% of your annual gross revenue,” and your overall equity at more than 60%.
2. Do I have the right site?
Selecting a good site is important to laying the groundwork for many good decisions to follow. So consider the pros and cons of your site options: does they offer good ventilation and southern exposure, provide accessible water and power sources, and meet local and state regulations? These site-dependent questions along with many more, require “must-have” answers before you proceed.
3. Do I have enough labor?
Another issue to tackle early on is determining how many additional laborers, if any, you will need. An expansion will most likely require new labor demands and along with them new tasks, including working cattle, feeding, bedding and more. Although many beef producers realize pasture and feed savings with an indoor beef operation, labor is its own animal.
4. Will I need to upgrade any equipment?
Often, a beef operation expansion requires related investments in new equipment to go along with the greater head count. For example, that older manure spreader you’ve been using might not be up to the task for a 299-head beef barn.
5. Do I have a cattle source that can keep me full?
Empty pens are counter-productive to a beef barn’s purpose of maximizing your profit potential. So approach your feeder source and determine if they can keep up with your anticipated demand after an expansion. After all, full pens offer full potential.
6. What are the regulatory hurdles I might face?
You’ll find the answer to this very important question within the myriad rules and regulations unique to every state. For example, according to the Illinois Department of Agriculture, cattle operations with 299-head or less do not require a Certified Livestock Manager.
Across the board, local, state and federal restrictions are a moving target. They require specialized help from experts who understand how to research and obtain the correct permits as well as funding from such government programs as EQIP. The last thing a growing operation wants to do is get hung up on a hurdle down the stretch, requiring a costly fix and delays.
Ready to find out more?
Whatever your reason for expanding—to secure your legacy or create a sustainable future for your family—take the next step and download the free white paper: Is Feeding Cattle Indoors a Good Decision for My Farm? at summitlivestock.com or call 800-213-0567.
It includes more in-depth information covering important topics, such as beef facility types, floor plans, pen designs, EQIP funding and more.