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  #61  
Old 06/24/12, 11:47 AM
 
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Originally Posted by PaulNKS View Post

You mention turning cattle only once a year. But, one calf, if sold at auction, you will get $800 to $900 per head. If raised right, most of that is profit. Our cattle are pastured year-round. Fed hay only in winter from what we produce. I can sell enough excess hay to pay for baling all our hay. We don't grain. If a cow can't keep weight (isn't an "easy keeper") she goes to town. So, yes, most of that money is profit.
Hay and pasture are not "free". You need to calculate their value to access costs.
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  #62  
Old 06/24/12, 12:04 PM
 
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Seems hay and pasture would be a asset, not necessarily a cost.

Specially IF, as was said the hay makes enough to pay for the makeing of it. The pasture could be rented out or hayed also bringing in moiney.

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  #63  
Old 06/24/12, 12:40 PM
 
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Originally Posted by FarmBoyBill View Post
Seems hay and pasture would be a asset, not necessarily a cost.

Specially IF, as was said the hay makes enough to pay for the makeing of it. The pasture could be rented out or hayed also bringing in moiney.
That's my point. If you feed 2000 bales of hay that could be sold for $3 each then the cost of feed is $6000. The pasture could also be used to produce hay.
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  #64  
Old 06/24/12, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by tinknal View Post
Hay and pasture are not "free". You need to calculate their value to access costs.
Yes, and the value to access costs are zero for that. The excess hay sold pays for the hay baled that we keep. The previous calves paid for the land. So, the calves no longer owe us anything for the cost of the land. The taxes for this 160 are less than $500 per year and that is with a small house. It's all pasture and the calves had it paid off by 2007. The taxes on 90 acres of hay is less than $300 per year.

So.. as I said, the sale from the calves today is mostly profit.
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  #65  
Old 06/24/12, 02:11 PM
 
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Originally Posted by tinknal View Post
That's my point. If you feed 2000 bales of hay that could be sold for $3 each then the cost of feed is $6000. The pasture could also be used to produce hay.
Yes you have a valid point.

However if I'm setting at home doing nothing and need hay I have to buy it. So why not use my idle time to cause the hay to be put into my barn. Is watching tv that important? I laugh at people paying $60 to a hundred or more to watch tv and then pay $6,000 for the hay they could have without spending the $6,000. Do you understand just the tax problem. People wonder why they are broke. To get that $6,000 one has to work. Tax for a self employeed person is very clost to 50%. So if one does the work they made something close to $10 - 12,000 and paid no tax. We have even considered the cost to work or the hauling hay home.
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  #66  
Old 06/24/12, 02:20 PM
 
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[[[[[[[........As an interesting side note, I bought a box of old books at an auction. Inside that box were the accounting books for a new start up farm in the 1930's.

They started with chickens, and stayed with them as their primary income for many years. It was kind of amazing how much wealth that family gained over time......]]]]]

Adjusted for inflation, eggs at that time sold for the equivalent of $12 a dozen in today's money. A roast chicken was an expensive luxury item, not cheap meat like it is today. It was a lot easier to make money with chickens at that time than it is today.

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  #67  
Old 06/24/12, 02:55 PM
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Have not read all the post but seems to me weather will play into this also...spring time baby chicks,ducks,geese,turkeys & guineas sell real well especially at small animal auctions i have been to...sometimes rabbits do well...goats all spring/summer so far are bringing the most money per pound...

Also might depend on the area you are living in~~

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  #68  
Old 06/24/12, 06:43 PM
 
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I think a lot of today's ag issues have to do with peoples pride.

People laughed when I started out with only 4 sheep, yet they want to know how I made a profit in 4 years without investing my own money into my farm after only four years. For some, the thought of starting small and building up is beyond them, and they want to go all out, get big numbers and do big things. Yet everyone I know that is large in size (and profitable) started out small and worked up.

I also think my success has been in having a plan from the onset. I spent 10 months making a farm plan before I added any animals, and everything I have done since then has been in accordance with that. Only when I deviated from the plan (and there has been many times I did that), did it not bode well for me. I encourage everyone getting into farming for profit to do a real farm plan, it really does give a small farmer direction.

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  #69  
Old 06/24/12, 07:15 PM
 
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Originally Posted by tinknal View Post
That's my point. If you feed 2000 bales of hay that could be sold for $3 each then the cost of feed is $6000. The pasture could also be used to produce hay.
This is very true, but at times things can get complex.

On my farm there is 100 acres of land split 50/50 with corn and hay ground used by my families large dairy farm. Other then grazing 3rd crop, and getting some feed for my own sheep, I let the farm take this hay and corn without pay even though I pay taxes on it ($10 per acre).

At first this seems silly...I am giving away good feed that I could sell as hay or corn silage.

Not really. Feed costs for most sheep producers is 60%, where as my feed costs are nothing. I do not have to buy equipment, fuel or have other expenses to get my winter feed for the year..incredibly good feed that would NOT be possible with cheap equipment and inferior technology. And because this farm co-farms with a major dairy operation, I am eligible for an incredible amount of grants and low interest loans. It takes a lot of communication with the dairy farm to ensure neither one of us encroaches upon the other, but in the end we have an incredibly productive farm. Almost every ag acre of this place is maximized. That is good for me and my sheep operation, the major dairy farm putting milk on a lot of Maine peoples tables, and to the American people.

Without the aid of a dairy operation and its economy of scale, I would not be profitable. Yeah I might make $6000 dollars in hay, but go broke doing it.

Farming is complex and requires a sharp pencil.
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  #70  
Old 06/24/12, 07:50 PM
 
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Originally Posted by PaulNKS View Post
Yes, and the value to access costs are zero for that. The excess hay sold pays for the hay baled that we keep. The previous calves paid for the land. So, the calves no longer owe us anything for the cost of the land. The taxes for this 160 are less than $500 per year and that is with a small house. It's all pasture and the calves had it paid off by 2007. The taxes on 90 acres of hay is less than $300 per year.

So.. as I said, the sale from the calves today is mostly profit.
I'm all for you raising cattle. Dang fine avocation. I'm just saying that the value of the feed fed to the cattle, regardless of it's costs, is part of the equation.
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  #71  
Old 06/24/12, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by TxMex View Post
Honey bees!

Not only are they profitable, but they harvest your neighbors nectar. You don't need acreage to have bees. You can locate hives on other peoples property and sometimes they will even pay you to do so. You can take a vacation without needing to hire someone to come feed and water them. They are so adaptable that you can raise them anywhere from the desert to a rain forest. Everything they produce(honey, pollen, wax, more bees) is a high profit product.
I wanted to put a few hives in but just the cost of the bee keeping supplies was enough to stop me in my tracks. How can you raise bees without breaking the bank on all the accoutrements?
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  #72  
Old 06/24/12, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Dusky Beauty View Post
Different breeds of cows have different needs and perform differently. I have heard people say a dairy cow was a big stupid beast that ate them out of house and home (this person had a holstein dairy farm reject), and also seen it said that their dairy cow was the best creature they had for thrift and that person owned a dexter.

I own a pregnant belmont (thats a dexter/jersey cross meant to be a more dairy type dexter) so I can't say what the milk or meat is like from experience, but I DO know she stays fat and sassy (overweight even) on very little feed. She probably costs me less to feed than my ducks and geese.

I paid twice the price of a dairy jersey for her just because of her smaller size and lesser food consumption and thus far I'm pleased. There seems to be quite a high demand niche market for dexter heifers and the steers are supposedly premium "mini cuts" of beef. My girl is also darn smart and dog gentle.
I fell in love with Dexters this summer - they seem so much more manageable and the farmer I met with said he figured he could keep one Dexter cow on 1-2 acres of grass. That's a far cry from what I'd heard from other people with the bigger milk cows... but 2gal/day is also much more manageable for us than 10-15.
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  #73  
Old 06/24/12, 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Cabin Fever View Post
The most profitable critter - with the least of inputs and handling - are leeches.

Jumbo leeches go for about $12/pound around here. Can anyone beat that?
Yep, rare breed exhibition poultry, $100 per dozen for eggs.
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  #74  
Old 06/24/12, 09:07 PM
 
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Originally Posted by PrettyPaisley View Post
I wanted to put a few hives in but just the cost of the bee keeping supplies was enough to stop me in my tracks. How can you raise bees without breaking the bank on all the accoutrements?

Well, if you get a hive going, it can make 100lbs of honey on average, and you can sell that for a profit off 5 bucks a pound after your bottle and lable. 500 dollars. Of course it all depends on weather, year, breed, and beekeeper ability, but isnt that the way it works with any form of ag?
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  #75  
Old 06/24/12, 09:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Chris. View Post
Well, if you get a hive going, it can make 100lbs of honey on average, and you can sell that for a profit off 5 bucks a pound after your bottle and lable. 500 dollars. Of course it all depends on weather, year, breed, and beekeeper ability, but isnt that the way it works with any form of ag?

Oooohhh...I guess I didn't know that bees made that much honey! I know it sells for a lot-I buy it local by the gallon and pay a pretty penny!
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  #76  
Old 06/24/12, 10:03 PM
 
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Ive got a picture of a farmer in the 30s looking at a black board at a feed store or general store of the pricesof eggs. 3@ for small 5@ for med, and a dime for large.

A candy bar that costs a nickle in 55 now costs 75@ I dont know what that candy bar would have cost in the 30s.

A gal of gas cost round between 9 to 15@ in the 30s. Ive paid 22@ for a gal in the mid 60s. U know what it costs nowadays.

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  #77  
Old 06/25/12, 09:12 AM
 
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Originally Posted by nc_mtn View Post
I don't know, I"ve done pretty good on rabbits. People are always trying give the cute little "my kids never pay attention to him" rabbits away. I can save them up for the auction and usually make a 100% profit. Lots of times, they give me cages and feed too....
Out of curiousity, whaty are rabbits selling for these days?
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  #78  
Old 06/25/12, 09:58 AM
 
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My Great Uncle wrote a book and told what he was getting for some of his agricultural products. I was shocked to read that people were paying $1 for a dozen eggs in '49...1849 that is. You can get them for .87 cents today!! Considering the inflation or cost of living increases, we are either paying way too little today, or people were paying way too much in 1849.

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  #79  
Old 06/25/12, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Plowpoint View Post
I think a lot of today's ag issues have to do with peoples pride.

People laughed when I started out with only 4 sheep, yet they want to know how I made a profit in 4 years without investing my own money into my farm after only four years. For some, the thought of starting small and building up is beyond them, and they want to go all out, get big numbers and do big things. Yet everyone I know that is large in size (and profitable) started out small and worked up.

I also think my success has been in having a plan from the onset. I spent 10 months making a farm plan before I added any animals, and everything I have done since then has been in accordance with that. Only when I deviated from the plan (and there has been many times I did that), did it not bode well for me. I encourage everyone getting into farming for profit to do a real farm plan, it really does give a small farmer direction.
Perfect in my opinion. Everyone wants to make a fast success of their farm but farming is not a get rich quick venture.

I was told by a young man once not long ago that no one can start a small farm nowadays and make it work.....I don't buy into that. The difference is you have to realize that you won't have the new tractor, truck, pickup, thousands of head of animals, on and on and on until you earn it. Start like the old days and work as hard as they did and I believe it can happen.
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  #80  
Old 06/25/12, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by grandma12703 View Post
... I was told by a young man once not long ago that no one can start a small farm nowadays and make it work ..... I don't buy into that. The difference is you have to realize that you won't have the new tractor, truck, pickup, thousands of head of animals, on and on and on until you earn it. Start like the old days and work as hard as they did and I believe it can happen.
New farms start up every year in this area.

1- The organic association networks between most organic farms and the Farmer's Markets; and oversees an informal 'apprenticeship' program. Hundreds of apprentices work on farms each year. Those who stay with the concept rotate between farms, and go on to their 'journeyman' program. Which then moves a farmer on to being a 'Farm Manager', and after a year doing that they commonly are able to maneuver things to get each journeyman onto their own farm.

I do not think that any of these new farmers start the process with more than two nickels to rub together.

2- I also see apprentices who decide to go it 'alone' and start farming without benefit of the association. Now I am just guessing here, but from those I see doing it around me, I estimate that state wide we must have dozens who do this each year.

3- Plus one friend of mine [Tom], starts a new farm, invites apprentices, any of them who stay for two years he encourages to form a formal partnership, and to buy him out. Once he can back away from one of these farms, then he goes out and starts another new farm.



Anyone who thinks that you can not start a new farm, is not firmly connected to reality.

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  #81  
Old 06/25/12, 02:06 PM
 
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Originally Posted by wildcat6 View Post
Out of curiousity, whaty are rabbits selling for these days?
As far as I can tell, they aren't selling. Darn difficult to even give them away.

I eat mine, and with the price of feed, they are not a cheap dinner. I like rabbit, though, so I raise them.
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  #82  
Old 06/25/12, 02:55 PM
 
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Ever look around and wonder why all the infrastructure in pastured livestock is cattle and not goats, even though goat is the most widely eaten meat in the world and the US does not produce enough to satisfy its own demand?

That's because cows make more money with less work and inputs, and that's why the whole pasture livestock world from farm to sale barn to slaughterhouse is built around them. And this is coming from a guy who has spent 22 years raising beef cattle and 21 years raising goats for the mass meat market. I sold the goat herd and goat equipment last year. I just could not justify all the inputs and the huge labor demands it took anymore. What a change in my lifestyle that made! Wow, I have free time now!

I love and miss goats, but they do not make money as a farmed meat animal when all costs are factored in. That is why so many goat operations are show kid or pet or breeding genetics-oriented. It is also why the typical goat herd is owned for just 3 years on average. To simply farm them like you do cows doesn't pay. I hate to say it, but I have 21 years of experience to prove it.

We love goat meat. Our herd fed us for years. But it comes down to being easier and more profitable to raise cows and buy goats to slaughter and put in the freezer.

If you want profits, buy heifers and a young bull as cheap as you can at auction and start there. These are known by some as "mortgage lifters." Raise them up on grass, breed them and use some of the profits from selling the 6-month-old calves to buy better breeding stock as you go. This is a route many a farmer has taken, and in a decade, you will have fine animals and a good operation.

A 600-pound calf here is almost $800 at the sale barn. It'd take 6 or more goat kids 6-8 months old to equal 1 calf (goat is about $1.50/lb now). So if you sell 10 calves, you'd need at least 60 kids to get the same gross payback. You'll have more inputs in the goats, and more labor cost, if my 21 years of experience counts for anything.

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  #83  
Old 06/25/12, 03:08 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ET1 SS View Post
New farms start up every year in this area.

1- The organic association networks between most organic farms and the Farmer's Markets; and oversees an informal 'apprenticeship' program. Hundreds of apprentices work on farms each year. Those who stay with the concept rotate between farms, and go on to their 'journeyman' program. Which then moves a farmer on to being a 'Farm Manager', and after a year doing that they commonly are able to maneuver things to get each journeyman onto their own farm.

I do not think that any of these new farmers start the process with more than two nickels to rub together.

2- I also see apprentices who decide to go it 'alone' and start farming without benefit of the association. Now I am just guessing here, but from those I see doing it around me, I estimate that state wide we must have dozens who do this each year.

3- Plus one friend of mine [Tom], starts a new farm, invites apprentices, any of them who stay for two years he encourages to form a formal partnership, and to buy him out. Once he can back away from one of these farms, then he goes out and starts another new farm.



Anyone who thinks that you can not start a new farm, is not firmly connected to reality.

It is very difficult to start or run a small farm (under 500 acres) and come out simply on profit vs. loss with farming as the sole occupation.

Livestock wise, as an example, it takes 80 calves at current prices to buy a new pickup. Not that you need a new pickup; I am using that as a reference point. That figure has just now gotten back to where it was in the go-go 80s relative to inflation. To return $25,000 in net profit for the farmhouse to live on, a body has to run 425 head of mama cows and have a 90% weaned calf crop for sale each year. That's hard work.

Subsistence farming is another matter entirely, and it is possible with the right stock and large gardens to provide most of the food consumed on the home place by just using grass as the basis for meat and fertilizer needs. But that's not what we are discussing here, I don't think.

For someone looking to start a farm to earn cash, small is not the way to go. The best way to go in that case is to crop farm by owning small acres and leasing the majority of the rest.

Of course, small farms can "farm the government" by claiming tax deductions and sheltering other cash income that way, as long as the auditor doesn't come calling someday. But beware the salespeople who tell you that you can make money on a small farm. Many a person has lost their life's savings that way. I've run my place on old equipment and used stuff for years, and I get it from the forced sales from the newbies who came with stars in their eyes and a Joel Salatin book in their hands.

About the prophets, ask yourself: If he's doing so well farming, why does he have to sell books and go on paid speaking tours and have people pay him to do "internship" chores on his farm? (I sure would like folks to pay me to do my farm chores!)

I'm sorry if this sounds harsh, but there are facts to consider in any hardnosed business decision, and farming is a low return on investment business, so you must be careful how you do it if you seek monetary profits and not just a hobby.
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  #84  
Old 06/25/12, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by oregon woodsmok View Post
As far as I can tell, they aren't selling. Darn difficult to even give them away.

I eat mine, and with the price of feed, they are not a cheap dinner. I like rabbit, though, so I raise them.

At the little auction here we get between $8.00 and $15.00 for each rabbit. I think it is pretty good. Ours are NZW and we have even gotten up to $20.00 a few times.
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  #85  
Old 06/25/12, 03:41 PM
 
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Originally Posted by tinknal View Post
That's my point. If you feed 2000 bales of hay that could be sold for $3 each then the cost of feed is $6000. The pasture could also be used to produce hay.
Sorry to disagree, but $6000 would be the value of the hay... not the cost.

The cost of a product is the amount spent to produce it. The value is what it's worth to whomever is using it.
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  #86  
Old 06/25/12, 03:56 PM
 
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I magine rabbit worth, like most other animals is different in different parts of the country. Im carrying around 75 to 100 right now, and CL dosnt do hardly a thing for me selling them. If I take them out to a huge sale first Sat of ea month, I have to pay 25% comm. Hardly nobody takes rabbits there, but therll be maybe 5 to 700 chickens.

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  #87  
Old 06/25/12, 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Jim S. View Post
It is very difficult to start or run a small farm (under 500 acres) and come out simply on profit vs. loss with farming as the sole occupation.
I certainly see a lot of people doing it.

Of course I also see many who hold a job in-town.



Quote:
... For someone looking to start a farm to earn cash, small is not the way to go. The best way to go in that case is to crop farm by owning small acres and leasing the majority of the rest.
I sell produce in a Farmer's Market where I rub elbows with a number of other small food producers.

What I have been seeing is that 4 to 8 acres is about optimum for the beginner. It is about the best size to get going and step away from needing a job in town. While having enough profit potential to support either a family, or else a partnership of 3 to 4 adults.



Quote:
... Of course, small farms can "farm the government" by claiming tax deductions and sheltering other cash income that way, as long as the auditor doesn't come calling someday. But beware the salespeople who tell you that you can make money on a small farm. Many a person has lost their life's savings that way. I've run my place on old equipment and used stuff for years, and I get it from the forced sales from the newbies who came with stars in their eyes and a Joel Salatin book in their hands.
There are scams in any business.

I am not familiar with Joel Salatin.



Quote:
... About the prophets, ask yourself: If he's doing so well farming, why does he have to sell books and go on paid speaking tours and have people pay him to do "internship" chores on his farm? (I sure would like folks to pay me to do my farm chores!)
Are you talking about your Joel Salatin ?

I have no desire to google to see who your buddy is. From your description it sounds like he is running a scam.



Quote:
... I'm sorry if this sounds harsh, but there are facts to consider in any hardnosed business decision, and farming is a low return on investment business, so you must be careful how you do it if you seek monetary profits and not just a hobby.
I think that most of your 'harshness' is focused on your Joel Salatin.

From where I stand, small farms are popping up all around.
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  #88  
Old 06/25/12, 05:16 PM
 
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WC - been a month almost 2 since I've been to the auction. I think around here at least, they sell better there in the spring. I would say an "average" price is around $5. It's not uncommon to see them bring closer to $10. I have seen some go for more, even up to $25 but that doesn't happen often. Usually the larger and more colored they are, the more they will bring.

I know some people have issues with auction animals. I've never had a problem especially with rabbits. The only rabbit we lost soon after an auction was one that a guy gave me. I made the comment about how I didn't want to spend that much on one but I thought about getting the kids one. He said he had 2 that was hurt and gave me. It had happened on the way to the auction so he didn't sell them. I think the mother had died and they were almost too young to wean. One had his nose bit almost off by another buck. The other wasn't too strong looking. I didn't have any other rabbits here and they were free so I took them. The weak one died on the way home, the other with the messed up nose lived for several months before I sold him.

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  #89  
Old 06/25/12, 05:37 PM
 
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Unfortunately, for the most part Jim S is correct, and my thoughts have mirrored his for many years.

I am not sure Joel Salatin is necessarily a scam, nor have I read any of his books, but I did read a book on a cattle farmer that was raising grass fed only beef and I quickly realized, while his method may work incredibly well for him, it would never work here in Maine. Yeah I have known people to winter graze in Maine...it was called a divorce and the person had no money to buy hay so he called it winter grazing while the rest of us called it starving his livestock!

I do differ in Jim S in that I do not think you can give a certain amount of acreage as the cut off point of a farm being sustainable or not. There is just too many variables between farms in soil quality, rain fall, micro climates and topography to say this amount of acreage works and this doesn't. But I do agree that leasing land makes far more sense then paying property taxes. On our big dairy farm WE HAVE TO LEASE, there is no way, with Maine's high property taxes, that we could own our own land entirely and successfully farm. No way.

But that farm is all supported by family members that work off the farm. The reason is simple, every household that draws an income off the farm also needs to have health insurance, and it is just too costly to do so off the farm's income. Instead wives (or husband's) draw an income off-farm and put their spouses and kids on that employers health insurance.

I understand the Middleman takes a big cut of the profit, but few farmers starting out realize that to get the Middleman's pay, they must do the Middleman's job. Myself, I have no motivation to babysit a parking lot all day just so I can sell my crops and call myself a farmer. I would rather spend my day on the farm doing what I do best, raising crops, and taking care of sheep and cows. For those that do, they pay a price for that.

As for farmers market type farms; here in Maine anyway, the standard figure is about $5000 per acre. The math is pretty easy, if you are targeting an income of $25,000 you should plan on putting in a 5 acre garden and so on. Here though, the Farmer Markets are everywhere and really saturated the market. It is hard to get into the more lucrative Farmer Markets since they are not letting in any more members. The days of having a few acres and making a living off it are just about over...at least here I think...but perhaps niche marketing will change that?

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Old 06/25/12, 06:55 PM
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Colorado
Posts: 389

When we lived in Arkansas and had our little herd of dairy goats we were turning a decent profit with them. We could sell 100 gallons of milk a month on premise and we always had buyers for that 100 gallons at $6 a gallon. So that worked out to $600 a month. On top of that I was constantly making cheese for our use and some that I traded to others for veggies and berries. Also had a woman that would trade me milk for soap that she used the milk to produce. Plus we were able to sell any unwanted kids for a decent profit.

I'm not claiming the $600 was all profit as I don't have the books here in front of me to show where we were on feed costs and such, but we turned a profit each month they were in milk. There was a lot of time invested in them, and it all really started out as an experiment to see how we would like it. It took a while to find enough people to meet our 100 gallon a month limit in sales, and there was definitely a learning curve in it all. Luckily the pigs and chickens ate all the extra milk and bad experimental cheeses.

I am not suggesting that you try this route. You seriously need to look at how you want your livestock to produce money for you and how much of a time investment you are able to commit to the endeavor everyday. I would have never committed to dairy animals if I wasn't a stay at home dad at that time. Visit others in your area and try to see what works for them and try to identify any gaps that you think you might be able to fill with your livestock choice. You might be surprised at what you come up with.

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