- Animals: bovine
- Animal Production: grazing management
- Education and Training: farmer to farmer, participatory research
- Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, budgets/cost and returns
- Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures
To become financially sustainable, small, limited-resource farmers are interested in marketing beef cattle together to obtain better prices for their animals. To do this, they must raise calves that are uniform in age, size and quality. Raising a group of calves of similar size and quality is hindered by a lack of understanding by many of the farmers as to what constitutes a quality animal and what size the calves need to be throughout their growing process. At present, members are raising calves born in all months of the year and of wildly varied quality. Currently, getting 10 uniform, good quality calves of the same age would be a challenge, much less the 50 needed for a solid marketing program. Because the participating farmers have limited-resources, the methods used to raise the animals in this program must be cost effective, focusing on forages rather than purchased feed and using managed grazing as a tool for both financial and ecological sustainability. Since many small farms are not profitable, the children of farm families are seeking other ways to make a living. This is particularly true among minority families. For our nation to continue to have the food, knowledge and stability provided by small farmers, financially sustainable enterprises have to be developed. This cooperative marketing effort is aimed at that outcome.
Project objectives from proposal:
Pelican Farmers Association proposes to educate farmers on the size and quality of animals needed for cooperative marketing and to help them raise suitable animals in cost effective ways. This will be done by showing the farmers how their animals compare with those of other producers by an objective measure—weight. The calves will be weighed at several age points and the producers in the program will be required to keep records on their animals. A weight of 500 pounds at weaning will be the target weight. Weaning weight is significant because the majority of beef calves are marketed by weight.
Baby calves will be weighed by the farmer. For the subsequent weigh-ins, the calves will be weighed on scales purchased by PFA and transported to each participant's farm by PFA's Quality Calf Project committee members. The committee will be responsible for project record keeping, which will include individual and group records along with data analysis.
By making this a two-year program, we expect that by the second year's calf crop through Project interventions and supports, more calves will reach the target weight. By achieving the target weight, farmer participants will be able to cooperatively market groups of 25 to 50 calves of uniform weight and quality for increase market values. Sales data of the experimental group will be collected and compared to regular market value to determine program success.