Nearly 120 cattle producers from 23 states attended Beef Today’s Cow-Calf Cowboy College in Denver, Colo., today. The two-day conference brought cattlemen and women from Delaware to Florida to California, to engage in top notch cow-calf research and profit strategies.
A full room of attendees listened to animal handling expert Tom Noffsinger explain how understanding animal behavior can help achieve lower stress for cattle of all ages. “Our goals is to remove all relocation stress, from born to weaning, feedlot arrival to final trip to the processor,” he says. “Acclimating cattle to the movement and weight gain is critical.”
The immune response due to low-stress handling might be the greatest profit saver a cow-calf producer can have, and give, to feedlot operators. “Its very possible to have cattle gaining weight on weaning day. When cattle show up with that mentality, its amazing how well they respond to immune response and weight gain,” Noffsinger says.
Those effects track with the animal all the way to the packing plant. “High stressed cattle are 5.6 times more likely to shed E. coli at the packing plant. It’s a huge food safety issue,” he added.
Video instruction brought many questions from attendees. “If the animal doesn’t trust us, they are not going to be honest in how they feel. They will hide lameness, early sickness … It’s confusion or distrust,” Noffsinger says.
Where do you stand when working cattle? Let the cattle tell you, he says.
“That black and Simmetal cow are saying what can I do for you?” Noffsinger says. “If you don’t see it, you can create it.”
In Business to Stay in Business
As the former CEO of Padlock Ranch, Wayne Fahsholtz has experience in managing a large operation for sustainability in profit and environment. Critical to achieving a higher standard of operating is setting goals for the operation, and measuring your progress.
Fahsholtz says he used this Balanced Score Card, working from bottom to top, to measure sustainability on the ranch:
- Ranch lifestyle and legacy
- Marketing and consumer
- Production: track production records, nutrition
- Natural resource and asset management
- Learning and growth: meetings, education and trainings
“This kept us accountable to whether we were making progress,” he says. Operational goals and contingency plans were also helpful in times of drought and grazing loss after wildfires.
Now working in management consulting, Fahsholtz says communication and business strategies are important to maintain profitability long-term.
“You have to keep communication open,” he adds, from the family to employee relationships.
“Advisory boards can help bring a broader range of ideas, accountability and encourages preparation and thought,” he says. Depending on the topic of discussion, an advisory board of family members and related professionals can bring new ideas and a shared vision for the future.