Arguably, the best investment you’ll ever make in your ranch operation isn’t your tractor, your farmhouse, your haying equipment or your land. While all of these pieces are critical to the success or failure of the operation, the puzzle piece that truly ties it all together is the mama cows.
Sitting in a financial planning meeting with our banker last week, Tyler and I were discussing our plans for the upcoming year and laying out our five-year strategy for where we want to go.
And while the conversation covered a wide variety of topics including marketing, investing and our off-farm incomes, the one thing that really stood out to me was the bankers advice to, “Keep investing in the best cows you can.”
Identifying the best genetics that match your environment, breeding goals and marketing strategies are critical, and while we have the best tools in the world to help us select for certain markers, it truly is an art to compiling a beef herd of mama cows with “power!”
So what does cow power mean to me?
It means a maternal mama who easily maintains her body condition score throughout the year; who can calve unassisted; who has the perfect udder with appropriate teat size to allow for the calf to easily nurse; who has a gentle disposition with a safe dose of a hearty protective nature to keep predators at bay; who breeds back on time for the optimal calving window; who consistently weans a calf at 60% or more of her body weight; who looks the part with femininity, design and structure to handle the rolling hills of the prairie; and who looks good on paper, too, with proven genetics and EPDs to match her eye appeal in the pasture.
It’s a tall order to ask all of these things from one cow, but if she can do it all, she is worth her weight in gold.
As we kick of a new year, we are also excited to launch a brand new photo contest! Sponsored by Neogen, the theme is “Cow Power,” and we want to see highlights from your herd and what makes your girls so special!
The contest will be open for entries starting Jan. 28, and the deadline is 10 am on Feb. 5. From there, we’ll narrow down the entries to 15 finalists and will ask you to help us choose our champions. Voting will be open from Feb. 6-12, and we’ll announce the winners on Feb. 17.
Four winners will take home $50 VISA gift cards; plus, two randomly selected voters will receive a set of my children’s books, “Levi’s Lost Calf” and “Can-Do Cowkids.”
TO ENTER: Simply email the BEEF team at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a photo, caption or title, your name and mailing address to be eligible to win. One entry per person, please.
Check back often as we will update the “Cow Power” photo gallery daily.
For complete contest rules, click here.
Good luck, everybody! I can’t wait to see your mama cows in action!
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.