Bob Price is the 2012 National Stocker Award honoree. Price owns Gracie Creek Ranch in Burwell, NE.
Low-stress cattle handing has always been a part of Gracie Creek management; it’s how Price learned to handle cattle from his father, who learned it from his father.
Gains during grass growing season run 2 lbs./day and better at Gracie Creek Ranch. During the winter, gains are targeted for 1 lb./day to keep the cattle gaining, but for less total cost.
Price says one of the advantages of the storied Nebraska Sand Hills is the sandy soils which enhance the plant water cycle, making grass more drought resistant.
By knowing his true costs, Price is able to establish profit goals for each set of calves. Subsequently, he knows when that goal is achieved so that he can manage his risk with futures and options when appropriate. Price can tell you that his calves accounted for a 13.13% return on investment last year.
Price is the third generation to carve a living from growing cattle. His daughter Lindsay Smith and her husband, Clayton (right), are the fourth.
The Gracie Creek Ranch crew includes Bob Price (left), Cathy Reifschneider, and Lindsey and Clayton Smith.
Terry DeGroff and his Management Information Systems provides consultation for Price and Gracie Creek Ranch.
When needed, Gracie Creek Ranch can easily deliver supplemental rations built around grain byproducts.
Most of the calves procured for Gracie Creek Ranch are preconditioned. “We’re blessed to live in an area that allows us access to high quality genetics and markets that will recognize quality cattle,” Price says.
Even amid drought, carefully planned grazing management—including deferment of 25% of the ranch during the growing season each year—enables Gracie Creek Ranch to graze as they normally do, adding better than projected weight gain. Plus they were still able to market hay.
“If you’re patient, it seems like somewhere along the way you’ll have a chance to make them work,” Price says. “Don't try to out guess the market, take the good with the bad, and most importantly manage risk so that you can be there for the good years.”
Price builds uniform pen lots, sorting groups at least five times between the time calves arrive at Gracie Creek Ranch and the time they leave.