Nov 13, 2010 12:19 AM by Matt Stafford

Ranchers look to cut costs to stay in business

Greg Lingus has been around cattle all of his life.

"It's just a good way to make a living, it really is," says Lingus, a local rancher. However, he notes that it's one that's becoming very difficult for smaller operations.

"It's getting tougher and tougher, especially overheads." From shipping to processing and everything in between, it all adds up fast; so he's looking for ways to cut costs.

"If you've got it in the finished product, at that time you're more flexible where you can ship it," explains Lingus.

One thought Lingus is looking into is a change from the usual; a different type of processing production line, one where the slaughterhouse comes to you.

"We are able then to haul a lot less weight to the market place," explains Mike Callicrate, owner of Ranch Foods Direct. He put his prototype for a mobile slaughterhouse up for display Friday at Venetucci Farm in Colorado Springs, showing how the work can be done on site.

"It is a trailer that we want to replicate and put out across the country," says Callicrate. His company links the customers at the trailer to packaging facilities and then to the shelves.

Callicrate also thinks the shift in production methods could fill in some jobs along the way, ones that have consolidated to larger processing centers. However, he acknowledges his method may cost a little more, but he thinks cutting out the middle man will help ranchers save over time.

"By connecting them directly with consumers, they get more of what consumers spend for their food."

While Lingus and other ranchers keep looking for ideas to stay ahead, he knows what it really comes down to is what the customer wants.

"If he (the customer) wants it a certain way, you have to adjust your production to meet that need," says Lingus. Meeting that need is a trial and error process that never seems to stop.


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