Editor''s Notebook

January 9, 2009 06:00 PM

Kim Watson
It's the time of year to make resolutions, those determinations that we have good intentions of doing in the New Year. While you may think of the most popular, like losing weight and saving money, there may be some resolutions to establish for your cattle operation that can improve efficiency. So, make this the year to take the bull by the horns and make resolutions that can help your business. For example:
  • Create a business plan and mission statement if you haven't already. Having a concrete plan can keep you stay focused on your goals and serves as a road map as you make decisions in purchasing, production and marketing this year.
  • Be honest in your evaluation of your cowherd. Do your cows truly fit the environment where you live? Cows that are too large-framed or considered high in milking may require more forage or feed resources than what you have available. Getting caught short on forage and having to purchase feed unexpectedly can be an expensive proposition.
  • Narrow your calving season. Do you have a controlled calving season where calves are born within a narrow window of 60 to 90 days? It requires planning and good fencing to keep bulls and cows separate, but it helps the calf crop to be more uniform in size, which appeals to buyers. In addition, the cowherd's nutritional requirements are in sync.
  • Work on employee communication. Whether it's family or nonfamily, clearly define your expectations and provide feedback. Consider writing up job descriptions that list specific responsibilities, then providing regular feedback to let them know how they are performing, both good and bad.
  • Get a checkup on your animal health program, or establish one if you don't have one in place. Consult a veterinarian to make sure you're giving the right vaccinations and implementing the right parasite control program. Build a better relationship with your veterinarian so that he or she can help you not only in emergencies, but also develop marketing plans, implement nutrition programs and keep you up-to-date on the latest research that could be beneficial.
  • Create a succession plan. This is a must to keep the business where you want it, in the family or in the hands of those you choose to take over when you retire or in the event of your death.

Keep me posted on how things are going throughout the year, by sending me an e-mail. Best of luck in 2009!

Kim Watson, Editor, Beef Today, writes from San Antonio, Texas kwatson@farmjournal.com

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