One of the geniuses of Gordon Hazard's 60-year-old, started-from-scratch beef operation is his money management.
Hazard has always counseled people who want to build a beef business this way: Make your living outside your beef business, make it profitable and keep pouring the profits back into expansion.
Hazard, who is now 90, started in the business when he was on leave from the Army during World War II. While on leave he found a piece of land to buy near his home in West Point, Mississippi, decided he could easily cover the payments with his monthly salary, bought the place against the banker's advice, and went back to Europe.
He survived the war, later went to vet school and then made his living as a veterinarian. He and wife Sarah raised and educated four children on his veterinarian's income and Hazard kept growing his business, all in his "spare" time and always investing profits from the beef operation back into ... the beef operation.
When Beef Producer visited the Hazards last July we watched them move one group of 500 steers in less than an hour. All their cattle are owned and all are moved on a three-day rotation in the summer growing season and are basically set-stocked on fescue in the winter.
That's about it," Hazard said at the end of the move. "It takes us two hours or less each day to take care of the cattle."
The only exception is receiving and shipping time.
Nearly all other management needs Hazard pays for out of profits on the cattle: Mowing, fence building, corral building and repairs, occasional day labor. He says minimizing owned equipment and labor is one of his money management secrets.
For simplicity, the Hazards have set up their grazing so different groups are moved each day. Commonly, Gordon opens the gate and calls them and elder son Mark, a retired bank president, pushes the tail-enders, if necessary, with a UTV. If there are no new calves on the property they may not need to be pushed. Then both men go about the rest of their day's business.
Some of Hazard's ideas have been well copied by the beef industry but most have not. Yet his 60-year record of success seems to beg inquiry. Here are some of Hazard's key principles.
Keep reading after the jump.