For Will Sowers, raising cattle in New Mexico is a combination of wins and challenges. Whether times are good or bad, he takes every opportunity to learn more.
Will grew up around cattle on his family’s ranch near Clayton. In 2011 in the midst of an extended drought, his father had to ship the cows to Texas to finish them out. Fresh out of college and back on the farm, Will was determined not to let the situation get the best of him. Facing continued drought, he became bored not having cattle around and knew he wanted to get cattle back on their ranch.
Will and his father each separately purchased half of his grandfather’s ranch, originally homesteaded in 1906. Now owning his own ranch, he needed to make money to get back in the cattle business. He began to rebuild a couple of the family’s 180-head feed pens and started a feedlot. He started by buying some calves to replace the ones sold due to the drought.
In 2015, he faced another challenge. The cattle market collapsed, and it took two years to break even on the cattle the family had. This was a turning point for Will. He didn’t like not having options due to the drought or another cattle market collapse. He decided to use their farmland for a wheat crop followed by pasture from November to March. This allowed him to continue feeding the cattle longer and helped him as he started to search for a good nutritionist.
He further expanded his options by sharing his knowledge and learning from other producers. Will launched a YouTube channel to teach people how he raises cattle and learn from others in the industry. Soon after he started his YouTube channel, he had producers reaching out to him and asking for advice or giving him helpful tips.
“Young people can’t afford hiccups because you can soon be out of the business,” Will says.
Through hard work and determination, Will grew his operation to a 1,500-head capacity custom feedlot and cow-calf operation. Invoices need to be created for custom feeding, which is stressful for everyone involved. It is time-consuming to gather necessary documents to even begin creating invoices. For Will, it meant 21 days of handwritten feed records needed to be interpreted.
Another cattle producer, who had become friends with Will via YouTube, reached out after seeing a picture of Will’s handwritten feed records. He told Will to look into Performance Beef. It didn’t happen immediately, but eventually Will checked out the technology late last summer. His business was growing and it was getting harder to manage records. He realized he needed something that would keep him organized and save time.
“I love the invoice system. That has made everyone happier,” Will says.
Invoicing isn’t the only plus. Will also likes the fact that he can bring up the closeout report for a group at any time. He can easily see whether his groups are going to make or lose money or if he will be able to sell them early.
“The flexibility this has given me is just fantastic,” says Will. “I can print off all my reports and send them to the bank for cattle inventory.” He says he has never had anything this comprehensive. He knows there are other products on the market but, for the scale of his operation, it’s the perfect fit.
“I don’t think there is a better product that is as user-friendly,” he explains.
All the wins and struggles aside, Will wouldn’t want to do anything other than feeding cattle. From teaching people and helping them grow in the industry to watching the new calves grow, he can’t imagine why a person wouldn’t want to be a part of it.
“It’s not for everyone, but if you are lucky enough that it is for you, then there isn’t anything better.”