This list is old news, but reviews are seldom a waste of time. Oftentimes, we need to revisit a topic to find the low hanging fruit of our business or keeping a home to be more effective in our lives.
Questions to ask yourself:
“Am i asking the right question?” How can i do this without spending money? Do i need to do this? Am i very efficiently doing the wrong thing?
If you think it won’t work for you, then it won’t. If it’s something we don’t want to change, we will set up the situation to fail on purpose. We often are the biggest stumbling block to harmony in our professions and relationships by refusing to seek a solution which, oddly, in many situations would not only enhance our lives, but be more productive and profitable as well!
As Kit Pharo says, ‘The easiest money you will ever make is the money you don’t spend – and that money is tax-free.”
- Combine animals into as few herds as possible. One or two is best. One cow herd, one bull herd kept separate until breeding season. Having one cowherd will greatly reduce the number of bulls you need to cover the cows. A single herd moved multiple times per day will actually improve productivity of the soil and increase desirable plant species (aka regenerative ranching) more rapidly than some popular managed selective grazing programs. Think outside the box on this one. Although one herd is ideal, sometimes there may be a reason for another. In the season of life you are young, strong, energetic, it is important to have cash flow and other income streams. Use separate pastures (leased or owned) for short term use. For instance, you may have a herd of yearling heifers or steers. Perhaps you want to breed your yearling replacement heifers to easy calving bulls. If you have many multiple pastures, miles apart – consider another use for the far-reaching ones. Perhaps hay it in the summer, then allow to grow for short term yearling grazing (sell the animals before winter). Lease or sell the land and focus on the main portions. Chances are very good that profitability will increase, labor will decrease, family life will improve.
- Calve in sync with nature. In our part of the world of north central Missouri, one would look back in history and learn when the bison calved. This is typically mid-May through June, perhaps a bit into July. Oftentimes you may hear, ‘when do the deer fawn?’ But deer are more like sheep or goats than cattle and breeding season weather needs consideration in many parts of the world. While you are at it, shorten the breeding season to discover your most fertile cows.
- Let cows raise their calves. In extreme weather conditions, it may be necessary to wean calves early and sell either them or their mommas or both!
- Select animals for your breeding herd from your own stock. Starting out, try to find local animals raised the way you will be. This will likely be nearly impossible, and you’ll end up culling a lot. Expensive up front, but long term is the best solution to finding adapted animals which can perform without expensive inputs.
- Incorporate some sort of managed grazing which allows adequate rest from grazing. I use Real Wealth Ranching techniques which is a way of incorporating nonselective grazing, identifying adapted animals, matching calving/breeding season with forage availability, increasing profitability, and creating harmony in your life and human relationships. There are other management practices that may fit your lifestyle or season of life better. Explore and understand the protocols, realizing that often you cannot pick and choose and still have the management work.
- ‘Kick the Hay Habit‘ is the name of a book by Jim Gerrish, but it is also great advice for reducing costs. Hay and all the labor and machinery expense associated with it seldom makes sense in today’s ranching world. There are exceptions – especially weather related – but by and large it takes a huge bite out of the bottom line.
- Reduce overheads! Stan Parsons said you only need a hammer and a wheelbarrow to be a financially successful rancher, and the wheelbarrow was questionable. Now, i might be paraphrasing, but his point is clear; that which rusts, rots, and depreciates is not an asset and likely adds labor and other unnecessary costs. Machinery, buildings, vehicles, even a stack of hay!
Decades ago, i sat in on an introductory Ranching for Profit course taught by Stan Parsons and i thought he had the craziest ideas. I’ve long since embraced many of his precepts, but the concepts need to be revisited to keep on track. I’m constantly making mistakes and forgetting to keep my life in harmony with my work.
Hopefully, future blog entries will dig a bit deeper into each point with real life, personal examples, and experiences.