I've long been a fan of presenting lists on this blog. Of course, each year I compile a top 10 of the best blogs of the year, and you may remember my list in the blog post, Five Lessons Ranches Teach Kids . Today, I've compiled a list of the top five things on my radar this week, and I hope you will list your own five in the comments section below. Here it goes:
1. The size of the U.S. cowherd. It's the lowest it's been since 1959, according to USDA reports. In fact, the U.S. cowherd has declined in 11 of the last 14 years, making this one of the longest single periods of liquidation in history.
2. Rising input costs. Whether you've been in this business for decades or you're just getting started, the pinch of escalating costs is starting to hurt -- from the high price of corn, to rising fuel costs, to maintaining equipment -- the livestock business is expensive.
3. Yet, the markets are poised to treat cattlemen pretty well this year. Feeder calves and fed-cattle prices remain high, and there is a feeling of optimism about the cattle industry that hasn't been there during the recession that crippled many sectors of business here in the U.S.
4. We need more young people in production agriculture. According to the USDA 2007 Census of Agriculture, the fastest growing group of ranchers is 65 and older, and ranchers age 45 and under have declined by 14%.
5. The animal rights activist agenda. In 2010, the Humane Society of the U.S. worked to pass 97 laws across the country. They are masters at turning sentiment into legislation, and they have duped the American public. It’s time ranchers start telling their own story and get proactive in this debate.
What’s your take on my list? I would love to read your input on my five, and it would be great if you would add some of your own. Thanks for your participation!
Finally, have you taken part in our latest poll? If you supplement stocker cattle with ionophores, how do you typically deliver it?
1) As part of a total mixed ration. 2) As part of a pelleted supplement. 3) As part of a free-choice mineral mix. 4) As part of lick block. 5) Other. So far, 56%  say they deliver it as a free-choice mineral mix. What's your preference?