Are you struggling with profitability on your farm or ranch?

Published 11th November 2020
Why Free Range

World meat consumption was 323 million tonnes in 2017 compared to 67 million tonnes in 1957, a fivefold increase in 60 years according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and should reach 470 million tonnes in 2050.

Now with such figures, why are farmers and ranchers struggling to make ends meet? For Brent Currie, Hustler Equipment’s CEO, it should not be this way. Thanks to his field experience working with farmers all over the world (Oceania, South America, United States…), Brent shares with you today a video that could help to improve your farm’s profitability.

For a few years now, and this is accelerating today, we have been witnessing a major shift from conventional feedlot farming to the sustainable future of livestock farming – free-range cattle farming. This trend is due to the massive cost increase for conventional farming operations while margins are decreasing. Why?

Several reasons can explain this shift. In a feedlot situation, the cattle have to be fed with what is grown in the crop fields, which has to be cut, harvested, carried, stored and distributed out. In addition, the manure produced by the cattle in the feedlots has to been scooped up, stored then disposed of. All this process is labour intensive, but moreover, it is expensive. Is it true that in a feedlot farming operation the cattle grow faster. But there are losses in storage and in feed degradation and wastage.

Whereas in free-range farming, the livestock consumes straight from the plant, there’s no loss, the cattle get every bit of nutrition in the grass or the forage. Plus, the manure is actually creating value instead of creating labour. Finally, the benefits are many: the soil improves, the welfare improves, there is less environmental harm (carbon is actually emprisoned in the soil). And at last but not least, the consumer demand for this type of meat and dairy is increasing faster than for conventional farming products. Free-range farmers and ranchers create a premium product, which meets an existing, growing demand.

From production to distribution, the meat and the dairy sectors are following the movement towards organic/grass-fed farming by developing at high speed. The number of farms producing organically is constantly increasing, mainly in the United States, Europe and even… in China!

The difficulties that the livestock sector is going through worldwide are pushing many farmers to “take the plunge”. According to several testimonies collected from these farmers who have switched from conventional farming to organic/grass-fed farming methods, the crisis in the price of meat and dairy products does not affect them. Price stability and a good organisation of the sector allow them to better adapt to supply and demand.

Butchers, supermarkets and restaurants, even collective catering are also slowly, yet progressively converting to organic, as is more and more the case in Europe.

Photo: Robin Webster