Here are 5 ideas for diversifying your cattle farm so you can ensure and expand your profitability for years to come.
Sell more than one type of profitable livestock
Since you’re already raising cattle, adding other types of livestock to your operation is a natural way to diversify your farm. The most profitable farming animal can change from year to year based on consumer demand and dietary trends. Expand your sources of income by adding poultry, pork, and/or lamb to the beef you already sell.
Once you add more livestock to your cattle farm, look to diversify your customer base. One way to do that is to sell your meat products directly to the people in your community at a farmers market. People who already buy your beef will appreciate the convenience of purchasing a second or third type of meat product from the same vendor.
For example, Wells Family Farm in Northwest Missouri established a loyal following at local farmers markets for ten years before opening a store in Kansas City’s City Market. In addition to their original grass-fed beef operation, their store sells other kinds of meats as well as fish and dairy products.
Individuals aren’t the only customers who value local suppliers. You can have success raising cattle for profit by selling grass-fed beef to a nice grocery store like Whole Foods or to local restaurants with a “farm to table” or other community-oriented approach. Even if grass-fed beef is just a niche part of your cattle farm, it expands your opportunities for profit. And as with selling to individuals, restaurants and stores that buy your grass-fed beef are likely to purchase other organically raised livestock from you.
One last idea is to raise healthy livestock to sell to medical research facilities and universities.
Take Advantage Of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
Farmers who want to know how to make money with cattle, or how to expand the income they’re already generating, are increasingly turning to the CSA model. Originally created by produce farmers as a way to sell shares of their harvest and minimize the risk of crop failures, CSAs are increasingly popular among consumers who value healthy eating and want to know where their food comes from. As a cattle farmer, you could partner with another farm’s CSA to offer your beef products as add-on items to produce shares. Some farms display additional items for sale, such as meat and dairy products, when CSA members arrive to pick up their weekly share.
You could also create your own beef-only CSA, as Missouri Legacy Beef in Columbia has done. When people commit to monthly deliveries, you benefit from a stable stream of income. Plus you can take pride in sharing your high-quality beef with members of your community who want to connect with the farmers who grow their food.
Offer Agri-Tourism and Seasonal Activities
Analyzing your target customer base is an important part of the decision-making process when it comes to diversifying your cattle farm. What do the people in your town and surrounding towns need that they can’t already find? Do they have disposable income to spend on entertainment? If the answer to the second question is yes, you should consider adding holiday and agri-tourism activities to your cattle farm.
Pick-your-own is a popular seasonal activity for families and individuals who want to feel more connected to nature and local food sources. From pumpkins and Christmas trees to tomatoes and fruit, people will line up and pay a premium to visit a farm and harvest their own food or holiday decoration. Once you experience success with pick-your-own, you can gradually add more offerings such as food stands, hayrides, and farm tours.
Generate Income from Recreational or Farm Leasing
Similar to agri-tourism, you may have a local population that would pay money to hunt or fish on part of your land. Other popular recreational leasing options include bird watching, camping, hiking, swimming, and photography. Make your cattle farm an attractive destination to people in your community as well as visitors from near and far. Websites and social media are a relatively easy and inexpensive way to advertise your farm as a fun place to relax, enjoy a favorite hobby, and purchase locally grown food. Create a compelling story about the history of your family and farm. Renting your spare acreage to other farmers is another way to make money off of land you’re not using.
Find a Niche Product To Grow and Sell
Besides livestock, identifying a niche crop to grow and sell is another way to ensure you have the most profitable farming per acre. From flowers like mums or orchids to popular “superfoods” like the Goji or Aronia berry, you can sell directly to customers and local businesses who will be excited to find something no one else has or a local source for their favorite product. Hops farming is also a growing industry(Opens in a new Window) thanks to the popularity of craft beers and “hoppy” IPA varieties. Some of the most profitable crops--such as bamboo, lavender, and ginseng--require several years of investment and work before they yield a harvest and profit, but could still be worth it for a long-term venture.
Alternatively, some cattle farmers have started to produce their own dairy products such as cheese and yogurt, both from cow’s milk and other animals like goats. If you have chickens on your farm you could sell eggs. As we mentioned in the CSA section, selling other types of animal products alongside meats is a natural combination.