Monday, January 26, 2015

Is A Dollar A Head Enough Profit

Wayne in NW Arkansas made a good post and reminded me of my childhood where we always raised hogs until the blizzard of 78 when dad finally gave up on hogs.

"I went to the bottoms this evening to check on my wheat and for some reason got to thinking about things in the past and are the turmoil right now in cattle. Years ago when I was growing up my uncle always kept at least of thousand head of hogs on feed all the time and he thought he had to be full no matter what the markets were doing.

I don't remember the year but things were awefully thin on hogs at the time and I remember grandpa telling my uncle it just wasn't worth all the risk. There were lots of guys heading sitting empty and I remember a friend of my uncles was buying every feeder pig he could come across. He had hogs every where I mean his lots were full and he would put hogs out with anybody and everybody that would custom feed them for him. My uncle And him were talking one day and my uncle was saying just how bad things were and how little they were making and the guy told him if I make a $1 a head I will be happy.

My uncle said DO WHAT? He said yep for every hundred thousand head of hogs I run I just made another $100,000 and he said that's just fine with me. I haven't thought of that story in years but it just came to me tonight while I was riding around but I can't seem to remember his name. I started buying calves when I was around 11 years old and I always tried to make a $100 a head. I remember one year I was probably around 16 or so I had bought quite a few that year and only made $50 a head after everything and I was just pretty bummed about it.

I'll never forget talking to my uncle about it and he said you didn't lose and you made a little and your gonna be able to go again so you did pretty dang good as he said a profit is a profit no matter how small it may be. I guess my point is even though the margins might get tight there are thousands of guys across this country that would just love to be in the game and we are on the starting team. I do one thing for certain that there is nothing ever certain in feeding livestock.

My uncle eventually quit feeding hogs and just concentrated on cattle but he did buy in one last time. I don't remember the year but hogs got to nothing. My uncle bought some nice feeders pigs for IIRC $4 a head and he said there was no way he could lose. He said when he left the guys place he felt guilty for buying them so cheap but that's what the market was at. I remember he fed those hogs out and when he got done he lost $40 a head and still hadn't paid himself back for the corn he pulled out of the bin."

When you choose your pork or other meat at the supermarket, remember this story.  I would sure like the manure and I loved raising hogs but that has all changed in the last 20 years.

The pig project is still one of the best ways to teach a rural youth responsibility and the risk is less than the rewards.



  1. We can sure understand getting out of hogs after the blizzard of '78!

  2. A neighboring farmer who specialized in farming ground no one else would farm once told me that while he only made $5 an acre if you were farming 4,000 acres it was a nice income. Two years later when he lost $10 an acre it seemed his wisdom was flawed. But, then ten years later he was making over $100 an acre so I guess the only lesson to be learned is that life is one step in front of another...

  3. Yes, Linda! I was finishing my Master's degree and our first child so I was not enough help for dad.

    Budde. what can I say but I really appreciate both your comments.

    $20,000 is NOT a nice income for 4,000 acres, that decision is flawed from the beginning.

    A dollar a head doesn't interest me either.

    Now the guy they showed on Cincy TV this week who took his mothers sex toy business to a multi million dollar company, that's a different story!


  4. Dear me. And here I am planning to make $6 of profit out of a $16 organic chicken. And I still would be 12.5% cheaper than competition. Granted, I won't raise 100,000 chickens, but I need much less to make the same profit and a better meat, with no extra costs such as lagoons of liquid manure to manage...