Where there’s grass, cow/calf producers are making good money. Based on prices the week of April 25, Sterling Marketing in Vale, Ore., estimated the margin in 2015 at $541 per calf, and said it was $548 in 2014.
That’s translated to increased equipment purchases; the Association of Equipment Manufacturers says sales of small to mid-size tractors under 100 horsepower last year were up 8 percent, with much of the increase credited to improved profitability in the dairy and livestock sectors.
“Anything to do with cattle equipment in the last six months has just been crazy,” said Bob Studebaker, owner of GoBob Pipe & Steel Sales in Mounds, Okla. Studebaker makes trailers, along with other products like hay feeders, bunk feeders and gates, and told Ozarks Farm & Neighbor he can’t keep up with demand for trailers. “Not really. Right now, people have to wait anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks to get one.”
Studebaker said he believes producers are willing to wait for a quality product. He got into the business after a stint with another company, where he discovered inexpensive trailers don’t last long. He consulted with several engineers and hit upon several techniques that he says help to defeat metal fatigue. He builds the entire trailer out of rectangular tubes, and transfers the twisting motion to a piece of pipe called a torsion tube.
On the back end of the trailer, to alleviate the longitudinal stress his trailers use “ground stabilizers,” blocks that drop down to the ground from the ramps when they’re put into the loading position. “That way, the ground absorbs the weight of what you’re loading, not the main beams on the trailer,” he said. They also spread the axles 9 inches wider than typical trailers, run the wide beam all the way to the hitch, and uses 19 pound, rather than 14 pound, 12 inch beams. Studebaker said he has two three-man crews who build trailers “from the beginning until the stripes are put on; no one else touches it but those three guys.”
But he said they’re not alone in falling behind on orders.
“All of these guys I know from farm shows – they’re all just as busy as they can be,” Studebaker said. “The cattle people are making money, and they’re upgrading.” He also sells his own line of cattle handling equipment, and said as of the third week of April they were building equipment for orders taken in January. “I’ve had to farm out stuff; demand has been great,” he said
Elaine Coose said her company, Coose Trailer Manufacturing, in Lockwood Mo, is also staying busy.
“We are about four months out right now on an order; at the end of 2014 we were six months out,” Coose told OFN. But she said that hasn’t been unusual over the last four years, since the company came out with a new design called the Ranch Hand. She said, “We changed the style of our trailer; we use flaps on our sides, and offer it in a bar top and a metal top.”
The Ranch Hand also has two relatively new safety features. The Gate-in-Gate is a small gate inside the center gate that is operable from the outside of the trailer. Coose said, “If you’re trying to load cattle, close the gate and decide, ‘I could have gotten another cow up front,’ you can open this from the outside and run one more in without opening up the big gate and getting inside the trailer, so it is a safety feature.”
The trailer also has a slam latch on its butterfly rear gates, so the operator doesn’t have to walk up to the back of the trailer and insert a pin.


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