In this podcast episode, Clay Price, of Price Family Farm, shares his journey from sports performance coach to managing a local ranch and transitioning to cattle farming. Clay discusses the challenges and successes he faced while managing his family’s cattle farm in East Texas, such as dealing with drought and focusing on one species at a time. He also shares valuable insights into different cattle breeds, rotational grazing management, and the importance of community and quality food in his life.
Links from the Episode:
- Instagram: @pricefamilyfarmtx
These transcriptions are automatically generated. Please excuse any errors in the text.
0:00:00 – Cal Hardage
Welcome to the Grazing Grass podcast, episode 61.
0:00:05 – Clay Price
I think the biggest thing when you’re getting started is you need to find community. Maybe they’re not doing the same thing that you’re doing, they’re not trying to raise animals in the same way, but get connected. If you can’t find a community, create one. Go meet new people.
0:00:16 – Cal Hardage
On today’s podcast we have Clay Price, a Price family farm. We talk about his journey to cattle, pivoting from pasture pigs to grass-fed cattle, and what they’re doing on their farm now, and then, for the overgrazing section, we get into beef packaging and pricing. Before we talk to Clay, 10 seconds about my farm. Last night which this is coming out on Wednesday, and I’m recording this a few days earlier we had storms pass through. For us we did not get too bad of winds nor tornadoes, but I know my brother that lives a half hour south of me. He is without electricity and they think it’ll take a couple days. So there’s lots of people in this area without electricity. Appreciate all the linemen and everyone out working to get everything back going On the farmfront. Everything’s going good and I was happy to get some more rain. Anyway, enough about me. Let’s get to the reviews. If you have not left a review wherever you listen to the Grazing Grass podcast, please do. It helps us get the word out about the podcast so others can find us. This review is from Simons Ranch.
I am thoroughly enjoying this podcast. As a beginner, i love to hear all the different examples with a new take on it than the other podcasts out there. Can’t wait to see what comes out. Thank you, appreciate it. Like I said, if you haven’t left us review, please do. Enough of that, let’s talk to Clay. Clay, we want to welcome you to the Grazing Grass podcast. Thank you, kay. I’m glad to be on. We’re excited to have you here. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your operation?
0:02:07 – Clay Price
Yeah, so I grew up on a family farm actually the same farm that we operate off of now. We grew up doing FFA, showing cows, steers, pigs, but for some reason it just never really took for me. What really got me excited as a kid and as I got older was sports. Whether it was baseball, football, soccer, basketball, i was doing all of it. It ended up being pretty good at football and got the opportunity to go play in college And that turned into an interest into health and wellness and exercise And I became.
I got degree in kinesiology, became a sports performance coach, found a job working with athletes and kids, training them, and the crazy part is that actually, through that brought me back around to food quality and the tremendous value of that and how we’re lacking that here today in our current world. And as I kind of dealt further than that, it brought me right back to where I was trying to leave, which was into animals and agriculture. And so, as I kept getting into that and kept getting more and more interested, i decided to make a career change And, after working at a training facility for about five years, i made the jump to ranch manager of a local ranch here in Tyler, texas, and that particular ranch was at the time making the jump to selling local beef, and so that was where the pairing came from is I had some of the health side and some of the nutrition side of things And they were trying to connect with the local community in order to sell a local product And so I joined them. I ended up there for about five years, had a lot of experience, not only the nuts and bolts of running a ranch, learned a lot there on that side, everything from take care of animals to take care of equipment and anything and everything in between. The great side of that is I also got to get some experience with retailing and selling beef. We had a retail store in town and we also sold to restaurants all throughout the area. So I spent honestly half my time kind of running working the ranch and the other half of my time working with processors, picking up beef, making cut sheets, working with my boss to communicate with customers and restaurants to get that product out and get it sold and try to turn that side into a business. The ranch was already a business, but trying to get the beef into a business was the struggle and the fight that we were trying to figure out And so I got to do that from the ground up and learned a ton from that And after a while we ended up making a change and had an opportunity to come back to the property run now, which is our family farm. So we jumped at that, took that, moved back into old I think it’s houses over 110 years old At this point it was built in 1912 is best that we can figure out So moved back and had been kind of redoing that while trying to integrate into the ranching operation that was already there on the on my family’s property with my dad, my grandpa and then my little brother as well as also involved. So we’ve come back around on that. And now that’s where we’re at with Price Family Farm And when we made the original transition, price Family Farm was created to raise pork.
It was to coincide with the ranch that I worked at. We were adding an extra product on by running pigs rotation, grazing them through the wooded areas of the ranch. That I managed And I learned a lot of my grazing up front through taking care of pigs And I can say that they are a little little harder to keep in than cows. A lot of the time they can be hard to convince They are. They’re pretty smart and they’re pretty creative. So we moved our pork operation off of that ranch and on back onto the family farm And then slowly, when it knew we wanted to get into cattle, and so we we started purchasing some cattle last year and eventually transitioned away from the pork and up selling that business or that part of the business. The animals in that business too, a friend of mine as they took that over and we transitioned to beef. But that was a big part of my learning experience was was the not just the ranch management of the previous ranch, but also starting the pork business and trying to manage that at the same time. I think we ended up, i think our our last year we raised and sold 24 pigs worth of pork, which was a. It was a handful, but it was a fun experience. And now we’ve now we’ve transitioned into cattle.
We’re kind of a mod, what I call it, kind of a modified cow-calf operation. What we own and operate is about. We operate in about 40 acres of my family’s land And we have 10 head of mama cows and then a bull, and we just came out of our first calving season, our first round of calves, and we’re we’re moving into, hopefully, the second next year. Our business model is a little bit different. What we’re shooting for is trying to raise and sell the steers to local grass-fed producers And we’ve identified a couple that are interested in the, the breeds that we raise and how we raise them, and they they tend to get a higher value, more so than the heifers at weaning time.
So our game plan and our business plan is to sell off those grass-fed steers at weaning and then retain all heifers and give them a chance to be exposed the following year to breed back, and then we are selling beef based off of the animals that don’t breed. So we’re using that as our coaling opportunity to provide a food product to our community, which we’ve already got an established base through the original pork production and some connections with customers there. So we’re trying to hit kind of a nuance and a little bit multifaceted approach to our operation And, like I said, we’re just getting started. We just had our first calf crop this year So we’re working to implement that Throughout this year’s. We go into weaning into the fall and then retaining those heifers all the way through the winter as well.
0:07:46 – Cal Hardage
That’s great And I think that’s a wonderful plan. Be interested to see how that develops for you and goes with you, because it’s something very similar to what I’m trying to do. but I debate everything in my head a hundred times. But I’m kind of curious why did you sell the pork business off?
0:08:06 – Clay Price
We had just moved back to the family farm and last year ended up being a what we call very dry and drought year here in Texas we’re in East Texas It’s gonna sound, i feel bad, saying this for what we would consider a drought, we had 30 inches of rain. For some that would be a dream come true, but for our area that’s very low, and so we ran our pigs on a creek bed system through our property. That was how we got water to them. We didn’t have an opportunity that we were set up to move water any other way, and so as that started to dry up, we started to have some issues with them getting out and just maintenance of them, and we knew we wanted to go to cattle anyways.
And so with that opportunity you had a good friend who’s already doing pasture poultry and had started dipping his toe a little bit into the pork And he really wanted to make the jump and we were looking to maybe make the jump out, and so we were able to work something out where we transitioned and moved them all onto his place And he took over and rolled right into the production that we had, which in a great part of that was we already had processing spots and dates set up that came with the purchase of those animals.
So there’s a lot of value for him to that And it allowed us to kind of to kind of get out and he gave us. He gave us the freedom we need to transition to the cattle and really put our attention there. Trying to do both at the same time right now, as I also have a full-time job off the farm, was really quite a bit of time spent trying to manage both And really I don’t know that I was doing either one as well as I should have been or could have been. So we’re really trying to refocus back on one thing with the cattle and really nail down our grazing and our operations with that And then try to grow that from where we are now.
0:09:38 – Cal Hardage
Just one thing you mentioned there was that job takes up so much time So you’re limited on time. You got to be careful about how much you’re doing. And then I say that not so much as a cautionary tale to you or our listeners, but a cautionary tale to myself, because you know I’ve got that off the farm job. That requires a lot of time And I have my cattle and I bought some more goats because I just love goats. I got them and I have some sheep And my wife tells me all the time, just slow down a little bit. But I have to agree that. You know, if you focus on one species and really get good with that, you know then you can move to another species or you can implement more on your farm. Be careful about getting into too much too soon. So I think that’s that was a good idea for you to jump over to beef if that was your future plan. And that drought you are directly south of me. Basically, what’s your annual rainfall there?
0:10:44 – Clay Price
We’re usually, i think the average is around 45. And we were, so 30 was a low year for us. It wasn’t terrible, it was just the timing of it. There was a long stretch there in the middle of summer where we were not only without rainfall for a couple of months, but we were also I can’t remember how many consecutive days over a hundred degrees, so it really drives things out and makes it a little bit worse than what it really is.
0:11:04 – Cal Hardage
That’s right in the realm of our annual rainfall here Last summer mid June hit and it turned off hot And we had that drought and it carried into the fall and really affect our stockpiling for winter and stuff And I think you all had that as well.
0:11:21 – Clay Price
Yeah, we did, And also it was tough on us as we transitioned out of the pigs, but it also created opportunity for me to get into cattle. Because of that time there were a lot of people trying to offload their animals because they were out of grass And so they were willing to do that at a little bit lower price than typically, especially females. The market was still good for steers or the sale barn, but we were able to find some great opportunities to jump into some animals that probably a little bit better than what we’d have typically been able to get our hands on.
0:11:48 – Cal Hardage
That’s a very good point. And we, with that drought last year, my dad’s herd and my herd we’re at our smallest size that we’ve been in a little while because we started unloading cattle as it just continued to be dry, didn’t want to hurt our pastures, so you know we were trying to get rid of them early And well, like I said, we’re at our lowest numbers this year that we’ve been in a number of years.
0:12:13 – Clay Price
Yeah, my dad and grandpa were doing the same thing. They were downsizing their herds a little bit. last year. Anything that wasn’t breeding and breeding quickly was get moved on from, just to make sure that we were able to make it through what we needed through the summer and then the winter as well Has this spring been quite a bit better for you With rain.
0:12:30 – Cal Hardage
You are going pretty good right now.
0:12:32 – Clay Price
Yeah, the timing has been perfect. for me. This spring was awesome. Our rainfall, i mean. usually we fall up a dry year There’s gonna be. I assume we’ll be probably in the 50s, maybe even the 60s as far as annual rainfall this year, but more so than the rainfall this spring, the timing of breaking out of the winter so soon. we started to see the ryegrass and the clover start to grow as early as the first of March, whereas typically it’s mid to late March that we’re really starting to see that come on.
And I’d actually put some money and time into the area that I manage of our farm and vest it into a ryegrass and clover mix last fall, which turned out to be just the perfect timing for that, which helped greatly helped our the amount of hay we were putting out, especially going into the end of the winter, and so it was a great way to get that jump started And I’m trying to implement what kind of name you wanna give it, but more of a rotational management, intensive grazing type program. that’s that we’re trying to match for the seasons. And last year I jumped in with some cattle. We put those cattle on land that had been continuously graced for the last decades, and so trying to implement that on great on pasture that was already well downgraded on a dry year made it tough at first, but it helped us learn some lessons and then select out for some really good genetics of the ones that the cows were able to get, the ones that were able to be bred and then up cabin. I think we have some really nice cattle from that, just because of that unique situation that happened. And then this spring just came on perfectly much earlier and much better than it has in the past.
0:14:01 – Cal Hardage
Very good, That’s always exciting. Now on your ryegrass and clover did you broadcast it or did you no-till it?
0:14:08 – Clay Price
So I did broadcast it. I didn’t have the size we’ve looked at doing some no-till but trying to get the equipment rented or brought in for someone. The small acres that we have we couldn’t put the pencil or paper to make that make a lot of sense. So we just went out and broadcasted it And usually you have good luck with that. Anyways, as long as it takes well, and the weather just. It is one of the things that the weather just worked out perfectly for it.
0:14:28 – Cal Hardage
I would love to have a no-till drill just to put in some cool seasons. And man, those prices for them are outrageous. And it doesn’t even matter if they’re used or what. I just have not found anything in my price point.
0:14:43 – Clay Price
It’s tough on a piece of equipment. It only can do one thing. It’s hard to invest that kind of money unless you’re working on a very, very large scale.
0:14:50 – Cal Hardage
So you brought in cattle, Did you? when you were buying them, were you looking for a certain type, certain breed?
0:14:57 – Clay Price
We’re definitely looking for the more moderate framed type cattle. We’re looking for something that’s very efficient. We started originally with just because of the connections we have with some people with some red-devin cattle was where we began And we’ve recently transitioned. We’re down to only one of those left but we’ve transitioned more to something a little more conventional. Because we are producing beef, we want something that’s going to fit the size and expectations of the beef product that’s coming out. So we’ve gone more towards a red Angus We also have, which I happen to stumble upon a guy that had some red poles is a little more unique breed that’s similar to the red Angus. That’s done really, really well for us And I found that those animals are a little more adapted to the heat that we see down here and have just done better with our climate and temperature, more so than the devins, and they’re a little bit larger. So it’s worked out well.
And then this spring we’re reinvested back into some more. We’ve got some feral cattle company type heifers that we purchased and then got us a. They’re red Angus. And then we’ve got a red Angus bull from Southern Red Cattle Company up in Gainesville, texas. I always love to plug him up there, michael Vance. They do a great job And we’ve been watching them from while we knew we wanted to get a bull from them. So they do a good job of raising cattle that are adapted and fit into a grass type program and that are profitable and efficient and do well in the heat.
0:16:15 – Cal Hardage
Just a side note. Michael will be on the podcast pretty soon. We’ve been in conversations just trying to work out his schedule on my schedule, so hopefully that won’t be too long when we can have him on the podcast. Very good, very cool. Yeah, he’s a wealth of information for sure.
Oh yes, now one thing you mentioned there I love breeds, and the red devins I’m not very familiar with, i’d like to be more familiar with, but I know they’re. They’re on the smaller side, very grass based red Angus. Obviously, i’ve seen tons of red Angus mixed results, and I say that because I purchased a head of red Angus last spring And I was telling the wife just the other day, i’ve sold all but two of them because they’re just not performing for me. But that’s my fault, because you can move cattle north and you can move them east, but you can’t move them south and west. And I bought them. They came from the north and they just have not worked for me at all.
You know, even though I would say I knew that I still took a gamble and I’m paying for it. Oh yeah, we still think that we can make something work. We do, we find a deal and we think, oh yeah, i can do this. I’m smarter than everybody else, absolutely, absolutely. Quite often I’m not as smart as everyone else, but that’s okay, we’ll see how those two in fact, i’m waiting on those two plus a couple more to come I’m just a cab. I’m disappointed, but that’s the way it works.
0:17:43 – Clay Price
That’s kind of the experience we had with the Red Devons. We started with them more of a homestead type feel for them. They’re not going to mature out in here.
Quite the size. They’re usually in the 900 to a thousand pound range. I just found that they didn’t fit our model and what we’re doing. Very well I know some people that the people who got them from Devon have a great experience with them. They do really really well with them, but they just didn’t quite fit the model that we’re in and what we’re trying to do.
0:18:05 – Cal Hardage
And then the other breed you mentioned, red Pole. I love Red Pole. That stems from a dairy production book wrote in like the 40s that had Red Pole in there as a dual purpose breed And I was all about dairying when I was growing up. That’s all I wanted to do. That’s just, that was everything, and since that time they have fascinated me. We did use a Red Pole bull for a couple years on my dad’s herd and I have a few half Red Pose. I definitely want to go back and explore those Red Pose a little bit more because I’ve seen some really nice ones.
0:18:41 – Clay Price
Yeah, they’ve done well for us and they seem to do well in this climate, a little bit better than some of the other English breeds. They slick off real nice every summer. If it’s hot they’re going to be the first ones out there grazing. They’re not near as baller as the rest of our cattle by that, and so we’ve had good luck with them as well, and I’m interested to see how the cross between that and this Red Angus genetics that we brought in what that’s going to produce. I think they could make for some really nice females.
0:19:06 – Cal Hardage
I think they’ll have really nice females with that pharaoh genetics in there too. So you mentioned earlier, you got your cows, you started on a pasture that’d been continuously grazed and you started trying to do some rotational grazing. Tell us about your setup to do rotation and how you’re managing that.
0:19:26 – Clay Price
Yeah. So we’ve got a pretty flexible setup. We’ve got we’ve got some pretty good exterior fences, And then from there I think we’ve built in at this point 13 semi permanent paddocks And then with those we’ve made sure that we have water either through a pond source or we actually have a well on the property that used to go, used to be fed for the houses, now just for the animals. We’ve got water run. We invested in some lines to get that moved out to each of those, And so we’re using those 13 paddocks in order to as our baseline that we can then break down and strip graze over the way, to put it on each of those, as we need to slow down or speed up the cattle, And sometimes they may just be one of those 13 paddocks for a day, And then there may be some days that oh yeah well with the way it’s grown or when the grass starts to slow down, that we may need to break that into one, two, three, four, five days worth of grazing And we’ll try to give them fresh grass.
Our goal is to try to give them fresh grass every day, so we’re always trying to make sure that we’re breaking down whatever pastures we have to allow for that And then just adapting to what the environment’s given us. When, when the grass is growing fast, we’re trying to move them as fast as we can And it starts to slow down, we want to make sure that we’re still allowing adequate rest and recovery So we’re getting good regrowth and good cover on that ground as we start to graze. Because what we jumped on at being continuously grazed for so long that grass used to be in short, it was almost mowed down, like my backyard, so it took a little while for it to adapt. But after we started to get some rainfall and started pulling the animals on and off, you can tell that it started to a change to that, and this year our production is way better. And then part of that is the rain, but I think also part of that is the management practice that we’re giving on to it.
We’re allowing anywhere from 30 to 45 days worth of rest before coming back and touching any piece of ground at the moment, and so that’s given us some really good regrowth And hopefully we’ll help improve the diversity of our pastures as well. Right now, they’re pretty thin. As far as diversity, we got a lot of down here Bahia and coastal Bermuda grass, or the main grasses there. What we’re trying to do, hopefully we can start to get some diversity. That’s going to allow us to do better when we get into some of these drought-like situations And when rain’s not quite as plentiful as it is this year.
0:21:35 – Cal Hardage
Very true. On those semi-permanent fencing, what are you using for those? Is that high tensile? Is that some polybrade? How are you doing the semi-permanent paddocks?
0:21:45 – Clay Price
Yeah, So we’re using polybrade and step-in posts. When we were calving we had them set up with two strand. We had a mid-level strand about no sight for the cows, And then one a little bit lower. What we said that was about knee height for us. So hip and knee height is what we set up at to help hopefully teach some of those calves to stay in as well. We had good luck with that. But now we’ve just gone to a single polywire on those and then we’re pulling polywires in between to stretch off and strip graze everything in between with those.
0:22:13 – Cal Hardage
Have you found any particular type of equipment works best for you, or are you just using equipment you get at the local farm store?
0:22:21 – Clay Price
We’ve done a little bit of both And I found that investing in some, some better equipment typically does really well. I’ve had good luck with Gallagher as far as some of their posts and their polywires, and then I’ve really liked from the get go. I’ve had Premier 1 solar fence chargers and they’ve done really well for me. Our chargers are all solar and we’re moving them around for each one, since it is those polybrades and they’re all disconnected. So we have two different ones that we bounce around and move with us and I’ve had really great luck. Those are really portable and easy to move around. It makes it simple to connect and disconnect as many times as we’re doing that.
0:22:53 – Cal Hardage
And you said in each of your semi permanent paddocks. You’ve got water available in each of those places rather naturally, or you all did some piping.
0:23:03 – Clay Price
Yeah, so the majority of them are piped. We’ve got two that do have ponds in them that have been around for a while that we utilize, but for the most part, the large majority of them, we’ve piped out from a water well and run that down to each of those so that we can utilize. We’ll use portable troughs that will move around with us from paddock to paddock to get them water and keep them, keep them with what they need. On that, especially right now when the temperature’s starting to go up, their usage has gone up pretty significantly. But, yeah, you just utilize them the well and then some mobile watering type systems for them.
0:23:37 – Cal Hardage
Very good. On your pastures is it fairly open? You have some silbo pastures, some trees in there. Are you concerned about shade The?
0:23:45 – Clay Price
piney woods. there are definitely a lot of trees. That is our biggest issue. If you let something go for too long, pine trees are gonna start popping up everywhere. We’ve got a variety of other things that are coming up, So we do have a good bit of shade and coverage in each one. That’s not, luckily, not been an issue for our setup even this time of year. Each one of our paddocks has plenty of shade opportunity, And that’s usually where we’re trying to water out of as well. give them a spot to cool down now when they’re coming back from grazing.
0:24:10 – Cal Hardage
As you look towards the rest of this year, are you planning some more cool seasons in, or what’s your planned management?
0:24:19 – Clay Price
Yeah, i think we’ll probably do some more cool season forages this fall, that we’ll broadcast on some different areas that we didn’t hit last year and hopes that we can start to get some of that established. I don’t think if we do a good job of managing when we’re grazing those and allowing them to get seed head at a certain point and then grazing them in a tight enough way, i think we’re hopefully gonna get some good reseeding out of those clover and ryegrass And so hopefully we’re not having a re-hit that every year. They’d rather expand that to just some different areas and be able to improve the opportunity we have for that.
0:24:48 – Cal Hardage
On getting started your year in basically or not even quite what have been some challenges that you’ve encountered, that you really were caught off guard by.
0:24:59 – Clay Price
I think, some of the biggest challenges in our particular situation. It’s a blessing and a curse. We’re operating off of family owned land not land that I own, but land that my family owns And trying to figure out what works for everybody when you’ve got multiple generations at one time and maybe some different operating systems as far as how your manager animals or what kind of animals are being run, has been probably the hardest part. What would be best and what my goal would be long term was it would be to consolidate what we have as three different herds at the moment, consolidate those down to one, and in doing so would be able to greatly increase our stocking rate for the property. If around here, my family has just set stocking and continues grazing, my family’s always, since the time I’ve been born, they’ve raised cymbal cattle, and those things are big.
I can’t tell you the number of times where I’ve spent time.
I spent pulling calves, and that’s a common place with those type of animals.
Just because of the sheer size And having those different kinds of mindsets, it’s made a little difficult as far as utilizing some of the space and making sure that the work that’s being done is fair, and even We’ve got a lot of hands on, so we’re able to knock out some good chores and knock out some good fencing projects from time to time as we work together And we do my family was a great job.
We are able to work together. We do all of our, we make all of our own hay when we each play a role in that process in order to make sure that each of us and all of us have what we need to make it through the winter. But I definitely say, just trying to manage family expectations and just trying to work through some of those things has been probably the more challenging part has been bad. I have great relationships with my grandfather, my dad, my brother, and we all really enjoy being able to live this lifestyle and do these things together. I’ve come in with more of a profit mindset and business mindset and less of a lifestyle type mindset, and so maybe trying to rock the boat a little bit without rocking it too much has been a challenge of what I’m trying to do.
0:26:55 – Cal Hardage
I totally get that. My grandpa he’s ran cattle for decades. He’d dairy and then he retired from dairy. Even when he’d dairy he had beef cattle. He thinks my rotation of cattle is a little hilarious. He’s like they’ll move around Yeah, they move around, but they’ll eat the same grass again. They’ll just bite off that tender tip.
So we have a different philosophy. And my dad, he was very much that stocking but he started and he started seeing some benefits in the nineties. When we started, when I started saying let’s rotate some animals, he thought it was kind of crazy at first. But now we rotate his until I rotate mine separately. His we don’t have on as intensive of a rotation as I have mine. So his are usually we rotate each week because he’s just like it’s not beneficial to get to that point. Now I keep thinking he’ll see what I’m doing and maybe he’ll be like, yeah, let’s try that.
But then I’m also a little fearful because if we start doing that that’s more labor I have to do, except the benefit would be we could combine herds And then we really get that mob structure. But again, then we get into the discussion about cow size. My cows are smaller than dad’s cows And we have reduced the size on dad’s cows but trying to figure that out And he’s not real sure about cow size. That’s a debate we have. We’ve had limousine for years, so limousine are fairly big cow. I’m not sure they’re quite as big as those cymbals, but you know they’re good size.
0:28:35 – Clay Price
Last year I had I used a rented bull from a buddy of mine, a red Devon bull, and he was only 18 months old. So he was a little guy And I can’t tell you how many times my dad, my grandpa, made fun of me for running this little bitty bull out with those cows, where he was actually smaller than most of them. But he did the job, he got it done. But they’re used to seeing more of a mature cow weight. They’ve got some that I know that are pushing, probably pushing 1,700, 1,800 pounds. They’re quite large and start to lose a lot of efficiency, i think at that point, and that’s why not being able to use the same bull has been the issue And I’ve started to see some transitioning.
My dad’s actually moving into some more pure red registered Braumans And he does a lot of AI himself, and so we’ve actually partnered together on that Red Angus bull from Southern Red Cattle And he’s using him as a cleanup bull in the fall for all of his cows that he’s AIing back to. He’s AIing them back to registered Braumans And then gonna clean up with that Red Angus bull, so we know which ones are coming out of. So, having that opportunity and starting to see some things changing like that has been awesome and exciting and cool on my end.
0:29:40 – Cal Hardage
Just to piggyback on there, my dad did. We did run my South Pole bulls with some of his cows, So we’ll see how that goes for him. Yeah, That’ll be a little bit of a change for him. Ai are you interested in doing some AI on your herd Or are you pretty set with what you’re doing with the bull?
0:29:59 – Clay Price
I’m pretty set long term with what I’ve done with the bull When I got first got started when I had even less than what I do now that we did some AI and I was playing around with a few different things I mean we even did some Wagyu crossed calves as well but you got to figure out what your advantages are and take advantage of them, use them. That’s one thing that my dad has always done is he’s AI’d for a lot of people in some bigger ranches since the time I was born, and so that was an advantage that I had and was able to use it first to get started and maybe bring in some better genetics than what I could get to without having to invest a bunch of money in a bull. So being able to do that AI and then also renting a bull from a good friend of mine allowed me to get started last year in a way that was very practical and made a lot of sense.
0:30:42 – Cal Hardage
Yeah, excellent point there. Use the resources you have available. I love the ability of AI to provide you some opportunities there to use some bulls that you wouldn’t necessarily get to use otherwise. I keep playing on AI in a few. I didn’t last year, i’m planning on AI in a few this year, just get some little bit different genetics in there. But you know, i’m kind of just playing around with it.
0:31:05 – Clay Price
That’s the nice part about about doing that is you can kind of pick and play from a variety of different places and try out a few different combinations to see what works and you find something that does work. Using that, then you can maybe then invest in a bull at a certain line of genetics that you’ve had success with.
0:31:19 – Cal Hardage
Oh yeah, before we get to the overgrazing section Clay, where do you see your farm going in the future? What are some of your goals? And I know you’ve already mentioned you know if your family could get to the point where you were running one mob, but otherwise, what do you have in mind?
0:31:37 – Clay Price
Yeah, we’re really just trying to really want to improve the land.
We’re trying to make some changes and set an example with Price Family Farm of not just coming out and harvesting off the land each year, but rather growing something all the while regenerating.
That’s the idea building something back, and we want to see that property be used and be profitable in the long term. So as we try to invest into our grazing, we’re looking to integrate into one mob, but also look at trying to reduce our hay usage long term as well, as that’s one of our biggest inputs. Luckily, we’re able to produce all of our own and we actually have a couple leases where we’re making hay offside and being able to bring those nutrients back onto the farm, which has been really valuable for us. But trying to reduce that would be our next goal. Outside of integrating the herd would be reducing our hay usage, and so I tried to do a really good job this year of tracking when I started, when we stopped how much we were using, in order to keep a log of year to year to see if we are able to improve that by our stock piling, adding in some of these cool season annuals and then just our management in general, of making the most of the property and pastures as we move the animals around.
0:32:49 – Cal Hardage
Wonderful clay, though sounds like great goals for you. I think you’ll get there. Just take us a little while. It’s time for us to transition to our overgrazing section. And for the overgrazing section today, we are going to talk about beef packaging and pricing a little bit of advantage you had there from your prior job with your ranch management.
0:33:10 – Clay Price
Yeah. So I got to experience quite a bit of what it looked like on retail side of trying to be connected with the community and selling beef, and had good luck with that And then also have done some farmers markets with the pork as well, and we’re really trying to streamline our beef process into our bulk packages so that the quarter halves and holes And we also want to make that really simple. I think a lot of times the consumer gets super confused when you start throwing out things like hanging weight and box weight and trying to price it off. Something that they don’t know what it means can be intimidating and it can maybe cause them, especially when they’re trying to make an investment and put a large amount of money down on something that’s going to last a long time. We want to make sure that they know and are expecting what they’re actually going to get.
So the way we structure our packages is we have set weights and within that we have ranges for every cut that’s coming out of it. So we do our whole animal. If they purchase a whole they’re going to get 400 pounds of meat And then we have ranges within that because we know we have a good idea after tracking for a while what number of cuts we’ll see off each animal And then our half is 200 pounds and then our quarter is 100 pounds And then with that comes a set price. So they know exactly what they’re paying. They’re not having to wait until it gets back from the processor to figure out what that price is going to be. It’s going to be based and set off that box weight of the actual meat that they’re receiving and putting in their freezer. So they know exactly how to plan and budget for that and then also have the freezer space available to take in an order like that And then on top of that. So with that we try to make sure we’ve set those weights and with the animals we’re processing we’re going to have an excess of that each time And the great part about that is that allows us to put some beef in our freezer.
That’s what we love to do, and so that’s a big part of it is. We want to make sure that we’re taking care of our family as well. That’s our priority. Number one is making sure we’ve got these high quality foods that we’re raising for ourselves. On top of that, so we’re using those set prices and then saving some for ourselves and got that from the place I worked at. We developed that system because of our retail store. We had a lot of bulk orders, but we’re able to then take any of that excess and sell it at a retail price And it just gives so much comfort to those customers that are coming in to buy something that usually, for them, is unique. It’s something that they’ve not done before for the most part, and so trying to streamline that and make it simple, where they know what to expect, makes it easier for you as a producer to deliver on those expectations.
0:35:32 – Cal Hardage
I think you have wonderful ideas there. I think you pinpointed a pain point for consumers and that you know they don’t understand the jargon. I don’t understand the jargon half the time, then figuring out well, how much is this going to cost me? Well, we’re going base sale and hanging way. I really like the idea of having a set price and here’s the range you’re probably you’re going to get. So I really like that and I think that ought to work. Well, are you to the point that you’re selling to customers yet Funny?
0:36:04 – Clay Price
you asked. We actually just delivered our first orders yesterday. We had some couple quarters and then a half that we delivered. We were actually able to, for the first time we’re very super excited about that to deliver on that. I had a really great experience with it.
0:36:18 – Cal Hardage
Excellent. I’m assuming you’re going to get positive feedback from the process, just reducing some of those pain points.
0:36:25 – Clay Price
No, it’s been great. And then simplifying that just just makes it is the expectation of it. That helps the customer know what they’re going to get and then be able to meet the expectations, so easy.
0:36:34 – Cal Hardage
Do you have a preferred processor you’re using and it sounds like correct me if I’m wrong you’re picking it up from the processor Is a USDA inspected processor. Tell us a little bit more about that process.
0:36:49 – Clay Price
Yeah, so we do use a USDA processor and that was another connection I was able to make while I was working at the ranch was identifying some of those.
There’s two in our area that are reasonably within distance and so we’ve been using that to give us to make sure we got a high quality product, and then we do try to eliminate being the customer having to be a middleman in that process. So we do, we drop off the animal, we go pick up the meat and then we deliver it right to their door all built in to what they’re getting. A lot of times in the past few years that’s been a struggle is having those relationships with processors to be able to structure out times, to have just spots available and that’s the crazy part about it Right now ours that we’re utilizing. They book their entire year in September for the following year. So you have to have a good idea where your production is going to be at and when those times are going to be in order to solidify a few of those spots, to make sure that you’ve got somewhere to go and that animal is ready and finished.
0:37:42 – Cal Hardage
Yes, no, i totally agree and I really like that. You’re handling the process, so you’re taking the animal there, you’re picking up from there and you’re delivering to the consumer. So they’re not picking up from some processor, they’re not familiar with the process. I just think that’s a great plan you have in place there. And do you or our customers ordering online, or are they contacting you directly?
0:38:08 – Clay Price
So they’re contacting us directly. We don’t have a website or anything of that nature set up at the moment. We’re not working at quite that volume just yet, so we’re doing direct purchases and haven’t been around and sold the pork for a little while. We’ve developed a little bit of a customer base from that that know what we’re offering and the products that we sell, and so that that’s been a nice piece to roll right into this, having customers lined up well ahead of when the time is needed to sell some of that. We make sure we have it all pre-sold before it’s even gone to the processor.
0:38:34 – Cal Hardage
Oh yes, now when we discuss it a little bit with your plan, you’re selling your steers off as grass fed steers to other producers to finish out, and you’re utilizing some of those females for whatever reason a heifer that didn’t breed, or a young cow in anticipation of how many you can sell. So have you already figured out you’re done for this year of selling beef and now we’re waiting on next year, or how are you handling that and that? a little bit of uncertainty there.
0:39:05 – Clay Price
That does make it tricky right now when you’re having a plan ahead for processing spots, the.
The target dates we’re shooting for are October and end of May.
That we’ve identified as the best times in order to process and that fits with our breeding cycle, and we’re exposing bulls to the cows June 1st and and then from there we’ll go through and we’ll palpate to see who’s bred and who’s not in September, october, and then the ones that are open will be the ones that I’ll go to processing in October, many ones that have any on the opposite, any ones we have any calving issues with or anything like that in the spring.
Then we’ll be moved into what’ll be used for beef and our spring side. So we’re using that as our, especially with retaining all the heifers and bringing them back in. All those animals that are going to be processed are still going to be at a similar age. You’re still going to need two to three years on with the grass fed system to get a quality product. So those animals are right within that range If they’re not breeding. That that allows us, instead of getting a cold price, taking them to the cell barn, we’re able to maximize their value tremendously by then turning them into what’s a great beef product.
0:40:05 – Cal Hardage
You know you’ve mentioned about the steric calves and that reminds me of when we had James Coffitt on from Ohio Land and Cattle. He was very much a proponent get the steers off the place as soon as he can, because the females are going to make him more money. And I think about that because it’s a little bit different than what especially for my family, what we’ve traditionally done.
0:40:27 – Clay Price
I mean, even within a lot of the grass fed beef production. That’s kind of the opposite idea, and that’s what makes it so valuable and it makes it work for us is that there are people out there looking for these grass fed steers that they need to help fill their orders, and so that’s what maximizes that value for them. And so we’re just trying to keep an ear to the ground and see what’s working and be flexible. If that changes down the line, we’re more than willing to adjust that plan, and we know that just because you make a plan, it rarely goes the way you want to. But the process of making that plan helps us know how to adapt when things change, and so that’s what we’re shooting for, and I think this can be a model for us moving forward that we’re going to go with and then make changes along the way and make it work.
0:41:09 – Cal Hardage
Sounds like a great plan And, like you said, we can plan all day. But there’ll be modifications happen. That’s okay, because the first part of that plan just making the plan puts you in a much better position to handle those modifications when they happen in the future. Oh, absolutely, clay. I’ve really enjoyed the conversation. It’s now time for us to transition to our famous four questions Same four questions we ask of all of our guests. And our very first question what is your favorite grazing grass related book or resource?
0:41:43 – Clay Price
So I have to say my favorite is podcasts. I have read some books, but that definitely is not my natural instinct. I really love listening to podcasts, especially when I’m not working or getting a project done or on the road. It’s easy to take a lot of the information in And then I’m also getting a full variety of different people and just all over the place, all over the country, variety of different approaches, plans, business models. You can take in so much through that And that’s what got me into this.
When I started working on the ranch, i was looking for something different. The one I managed was more of a conventional type ranch and was looking for a better way to do it and just started listening to podcasts And that’s what kind of changed my mind and changed the way I look at things, helped me make a lot of connections with other people in this industry as well. I will say the books that I’ve that the few books that I have read that have really made an impact on me was definitely salad bar beef, joel Salaton any of his. He also has a great book. It’s a little bit different from what everyone expects. It’s called the Marvelous Pignass of Pigs.
I thought it was a pig book. It’s not much to dismay of the title. It’s about the value of what we do and how our motivation of regenerating the land and where that comes from and how we’re trying to mimic what’s been created And in doing so not only improving the soils but improving our communities and improving our bodies at the same time. So that was a good one for me. I think it would be something unique for the listeners that probably wouldn’t pop up on their radar typically.
0:43:06 – Cal Hardage
I do not think I’ve read that book. That’s definitely one I’ll have to add to my list. And besides the obvious because there’s the Grazing Grass podcast, which I think everyone should be listening to what are some other podcasts that you find great value with?
0:43:21 – Clay Price
The Working Cows podcast has been good for me, And then the Herd Quitter podcast, I think are the two big ones. Those are the ones that I really I’ve really took to the most. I have to say, the one I haven’t listened to while was the one that first got me going with the Homestead podcast. That was the first time I ever heard about rotational grazing And so got into that. And then once you get down that rabbit hole, you just you keep digging until you never know where you are.
0:43:44 – Cal Hardage
Oh, yes, yeah, No excellent choices there. They both do a great job, and I’m not familiar with the Homestead podcast, but I’ll have to look that up.
0:43:52 – Clay Price
It’s a good one. They have a good catalog now that’s been built up for quite a while with a variety of topics.
0:43:57 – Cal Hardage
Very good. Our second question, Clay, is what tool could you not live without on your farm?
0:44:03 – Clay Price
I don’t know if you would consider this a tool, but it would definitely be. Our well Water development and investment in water is by far the most important thing when you’re trying to set up a system and operation. If you don’t have access to water, you’re going to be incredibly limited to how you can manage those animals, and so having that already been in place when we started this grazing system was extraordinary. It gave us the flexibility to make these paddocks and make the rotations that we needed to, with very little added infrastructure on top of it.
0:44:34 – Cal Hardage
I think that’s a huge advantage you have, because that water is a limiting factor for so many people. In fact, just last summer we got dry. I had two properties that I had leased, that I was unable to graze because the natural water sources on them both dried up, which put me in kind of a bind. But you know that’s a great resource or asset that you have there. Our third question what do you know now that you wish you knew when you were getting started, Or what would you tell someone just getting started?
0:45:08 – Clay Price
I think the biggest thing when you’re getting started is you need to find community. You need to find other people that are maybe maybe they’re not doing the same thing that you’re doing They’re not trying to raise animals in the same way but get connected. If you can’t find a community, create one. Go meet new people.
I think that’s been what’s been the most valuable thing for me is having so many different people. I know that are doing so many different things that when the unexpected happens and it will you’ve got someone you can get on the line and ask a question and troubleshoot some things with, and so I think for me that’s the one thing. I wish I’d have done an even better job And I was lucky to have a great community going into it. But having a community of other grazers or individuals that are going through some of the same things is so helpful, and it can also be encouraging when you don’t know what in the world is going on or when things go dry. Having someone else that’s sometimes having someone else that’s going through the same thing can be very helpful as well.
0:46:02 – Cal Hardage
Very true. I think that community aspect is so important And sometimes, at least in my area as a grazer, there’s not a lot of people out there doing the same thing I have. That’s nearby. So that’s the one huge benefit And I say one, it’s one of many huge benefits that the internet has provided us the ability to talk to our neighbor across the world.
0:46:26 – Clay Price
Yeah, it’s cool because I’m a part of a grazing group in our East Texas area And that’s probably been one of the best resources Just people bouncing ideas off each other, asking what they may feel like be a dumb question is maybe not maybe the same thing, someone else is wondering down the road, and so having that and that resource is unbelievable And you can’t put a price tag on that. That solves a lot of problems that you’d never even be able to think about.
0:46:51 – Cal Hardage
And lastly, Clay, where can others find out more about you?
0:46:55 – Clay Price
So we do have. I think the biggest place and best place to find us is on Instagram. We have a pretty decent following there and I do a pretty good job of keeping that updated. We also have a Facebook page as well that’s linked to that, But I would definitely say Instagram is the best place to find us at Price Family Farm, TX. Feel free to reach out and if you have any questions, we’d love to hear them. or you got any suggestions about what you hear? you’ve got a better idea? Challenge us a little bit. I’d love to have it.
0:47:20 – Cal Hardage
Wonderful, clay. We will put those in our show notes And, as we talked about in the last episode, we will make sure those show up in your show notes on the app you’re using as well as our website. Clay, we really enjoyed our conversation today And, clay, i want to say thank you for jumping on here at the last minute to help me out. Appreciate it.
0:47:39 – Clay Price
No, absolutely. I’m glad to reach out. I’m glad we’re able to get connected and get this going.
0:47:43 – Cal Hardage
Appreciate the opportunity. You’re listening to the Grazing Grass podcast, helping grass farmers learn from grass farmers, and every episode features a grass farmer in their operation. If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode and want to keep the conversation going, visit our community at communitygrazinggrasscom. Don’t forget to follow and subscribe to the Grazing Grass podcast on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube for past and future episodes. We also welcome guests to share about their own grass farming journey. So if you’re interested, felt the form on grazinggrasscom under the be our guest link. Until next time, keep on grazing grass.