Confessions of a cattle baron in Ecuador

You don’t realize it until you drive from the highlands of Ecuador down to the coast, like I did this week, but Ecuador has a lot of good cattle land.

Ecuador has miles and miles of lush, green foothills leading up from the coast that get tons of rain. And anyone who has had to maintain a lawn knows with a lot of water grass grows fast! Just what you need if raising cattle.

And down here it’s year round, no winters!

So at a routine stop buying cheese I met the owner of the cattle farm I was at, and struck up a conversation.

And as usual, I’ve found agro-business people to be very open with information, unlike most secretive business-folks.

There’s just so much to go around I guess.

Afterall, in 3-plus years living in Ecuador and serving food to Ecuadorians and foreigners alike, I have yet to meet an Ecuadorian vegetarian.

Maybe one exists, but I doubt it, Ecuadorians love meat!

The good thing was this guy wasn’t trying to sell me something, so you have a feeling his numbers would be more accurate.

He started, “you buy the baby calfs for $150, and after about a year you can sell them weighing 1000 pounds at the going-Ecuador-rate of $2 per pound, but some cuts fetch $5-7 per pound.”

I continued, “Wow, thats a great return, $2000+ dollars for each after one year, how many can you fit per hectare (2.2 acres)?”

“In this rainy climate with fast growing grass, we can fit 2 or 3 per hectare.”

I followed, “How big is your farm?”

He said, “it’s a small farm, of about 25 hectares.”

“So, what are your biggest costs?” I asked.

“Well, the help of course, the water comes from an on-site stream, the grass grows on its own. But we have just 2 full-time farm hands, the rest of the workers are just temp help we hire for special tasks and pay by the day ($15 a day).”

“So, what does good cattle land around here go for?” I continued.

“My friend just bought a small 4 hectare lot for $20,000 USD.” He stated.

Not wanting to get too nosy, I concluded, “so is this your primary source of income or day job?”

“No,” he said, “I’m a lawyer in Quito, But I come here on the weekends.”

There you have it, a brief but intriging look at the cattle biz in Ecuador.

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