“The greatest deterrent
to freedom are men and women of zeal, well-meaning, but
without knowledge or understanding.”
~Justice Louis Brandeis~

"People are so quick to defend their own agendas, but they so often fail to realize we must protect the rights of all if we are to continue to have any rights of our own."

Ranch meaning, in general, any real world dwelling probably not involving full care board. Kind of a rural voice of real horse owners, trainers, traders, auction owners, rodeo contractors, etc.. all of us who have taken a verbal beating and called greedy ass hats. Back at the Ranch contributors, moderators, subjects, and so on, are pro-horse, pro-owner, and pro-slaughter.
Back at the Ranch was formed by a group of like minded horse / livestock owners. It is a place for us to try to educate, a place to vent our frustrations with the current equine industry, a place to share humor and snark, and in general try to open the eyes of the public who seem to be anti-agriculture.We do have a section for comments of course, and if you would like to email us you can do so directly or through the contact us form. We like to hear from our readers. I hope you enjoy reading our blog as much as I enjoy managing it.
Ranch Manager

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

How can this make sense?!

Jan. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Madeleine Pickens, wife of billionaire oilman/wind farmer T. Boone Pickens Jr., has an ambitious plan to create a preserve for America’s mustangs.
She aims to purchase a million or so acres of ranch land to save more than 30,000 wild horses now held in captivity by the Bureau of Land Management.
The agency rounded up those horses in order to keep the remaining wild mustang population, which is spread out over 10 Western states, at about 27,000. The lucky ones get adopted, but the prospect of euthanasia, now performed only under extreme circumstances, was growing more likely because of mounting expenses. It costs the agency about $1,500 a year to maintain each captive horse.
Pickens and her previous husband, the late Allen Paulson, were major horse breeders. She was appalled to learn that many American horses ended up in the restaurants of France, Belgium, and Japan. “I never knew that horses went to the slaughterhouse,” says Pickens. “I didn’t even know we had them -- I thought they were from the Dark Ages.”
Promoting Ecotourism
The rescue plan calls for transporting 8,000 to 10,000 mustangs by helicopter to the preserve in the first year. Many of the horses would be neutered, and contraceptive controls would help maintain the herd at about 30,000. Pickens wants to create more than a sanctuary. She envisions a nonprofit eco-destination with RVs, teepees, and environmental education programs supplementing the main event -- the experience of seeing horses in the wild.
Pickens is setting up a foundation, which she expects will attract tax-deductible donations and corporate sponsors. The foundation is not yet named, nor is the land purchase a done deal, though she now has the short list down to three parcels.
Billionaire’s Misfortune
Being a billionaire household has its advantages, though it can also make it harder to get a fair transaction. “I’m negotiating on the land, but the original price changes once they find out who you are,” Pickens said. Some potential sellers have wrongly assumed that the project is part of T. Boone Pickens’s grander plan to cover the West with wind farms, or perhaps some other cash-laden enterprise.
In addition to wild horses, Pickens wants to help the castoff animals that would have gone to the slaughterhouses in the past. Since the plants’ shutdown in the U.S., many of these horses face abandonment. “I know that I will never say ‘no’ to a thoroughbred or a quarter horse. When we become a sanctuary, I’m sure we’ll take in everybody.” The more domesticated animals will enjoy retirement in huge paddocks of “a couple hundred acres at least,” Pickens said.
For more information on Pickens’s foundation, go to http://www.madeleinepickens.com/. You can also read this article in its entirety and several others on the same subject if you wish.

How wonderful all this sounds. Doesn’t it sound wonderful? I don’t agree with it and I think it sounds wonderful. Sounds like a place I would like to have my ashes sprinkled when I am gone. But meanwhile back at the ranch………..
How many people reading, or even writing it for that matter, realize how much land this will actually take? Land, ranch land, grazing leases on public acres, farmland, or any land for agricultural use is perhaps the most finite of all our natural resources. There will be no more produced, ever. We can plant more trees, we can build wind towers, we recycle plastic, or a whole list of other things to lessen our carbon footprint on the land, but we will never be able make more land. It is up to us to use what we have in the most productive, efficient, and economically sustainable manner possible.
Even the music of John Cougar Mellencamp tells us, “this land fed a nation, this land made me proud.“ Yes, it does. From the 40 acres and a mule, to modern family farm operations, and the family ranches, owning land has been the ultimate American dream. It is those family owned/operated ranches who will pay the highest price for Madeleine’s Utopian plan. Our agricultural land does feed a nation, actually several of them if you want to get into global economy. Anyone care to comment on the irony of how celebrity opinion can change to fit the cause of the month/year/day????? Oh well, we’ll let that one slide, for now.
So for the fun of it let’s run some rough numbers.
While I know something of animal unit requirements, death loss percentages, and in general cattle management revenue, I am no expert. I will miss a few things and perhaps my numbers will off a little. Even though my numbers probably won’t be perfect, hopefully, they will offer another side to this seemingly only happy thoughts plan.
Land required to support an animal unit (in ranching this refers to a cow/calf pair) varies widely from state to state. Here in the mid-west, where I am writing this, we are lucky, it ranges from roughly to 2 to 10 acres. For those of you who are really Ag-challenged a section is one square mile, meaning if you were to drive your car around a section of ground you would put 4 miles on your odometer. Somewhere in the west, where Madeleine is talking about locating this horse paradise, it runs 20 acres and up. We will use 40 acres per animal unit for our averages. It’s an easy number to work and definitely in the ball park of what the majority of western grazing land will carry. 40 acres x 30,000 horses = 1,200,000 acres or 1,875 sections. This same ranch land left in production would carry 30,000 animal units of cattle. It may or may not be doing that now. We’ll assume it is for the sake of argument. I am not even going to try to calculate the loss of revenue to the state and federal governments in the form of the grazing permits now currently being paid ranchers.
Using the idea that most self supporting family operated ranches will run between 200 to 500 head of mother cows, let’s use an average of 250 head. Putting it that way Madeleine’s land is now supporting 120 family ranching operations.
Using a very rough calculation those same ranches will produce a 95% live calf crop giving us roughly 28,500 live calves at weaning. These calves will be marketed in a variety of ways, the majority will go to auction to be sold to feedlots at various locations across the nation. Others will go to feedlots under retained ownership pens to be fed and marketed on the rail. And still another portion will go to test feeding stations to gather EPD feeding data, beef nutrition/feeding data, animal health statistic and so on. Trucking companies hauling them, the auction staff selling them, to the feedlots which will be finishing them, these calves will continue to generate revenue and jobs at every turn in their lives somehow. Many of these jobs will require those good old bred to work all day horses and that’s the part I like.
Using 575 lbs as a per head weaning average for those same 28,500 calves, produces a total of 16,387,500 pounds of weaned calf sales for those same 120 family ranches to sell at an average .95 a pound. Some will do better some will do as well but we will use it as a round estimate. Those sales produce $15,568,125.00 worth of income for those ranchers to spend in their communities.
If we continue to follow these calves through the food chain they will produce (if we continue to use the 5% death loss scale, which is actually kind of high) 27,075 head of fed market cattle. If we use a live sale weight of 1,200 pound per animal at a low estimate of .78 a pound, this produces $25,342,200.00 of revenue for someone somewhere.
If those same live weight 1,200 pound cattle dress at 60%, this produces 19,494,000 pounds of beef. Americans typically consume 63 pounds of beef per person per year. That breaks down to 309,428 people in the U.S. had better be prepared to eat less beef each year. Or we could go into how this will shove us one step closer to factory farms with confinement animal production to meet our growing demand with less land but I don’t want to run on or take time to research all those numbers. Granted it is only one step and it is a very sunny plan.
So who wants to give up their share? I don’t see how the trade off of land use Madeleine is proposing possibly makes sense so I get to keep my share of the beef.
And those “couple hundred acre” paddocks for the more domesticated horses will be sustaining 5 to 10 horses each. Somebody better get to building fence don’t you think?

written by, Ranch Hand 1

1 comment:

  1. It makes no sense to me! We've all heard the saying "more money than brains"..... This is a perfect example. I credit Madeleine for caring enough to try but sometimes ya just have to stop and think and realize how your plans and actions may affect others in a negative manner. Great post as always! keep up the good work.