Category: Planning & Management

What is Sweat Worth?

Most family ranches are subsidized with free, or underpaid, family labor. Sometimes the difference between what family members get and what it would cost to hire someone else to do the work they do is made up with the promise or expectation of sweat equity. But sweat is not a recognized form of currency and […]

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What Are You Worth?

I often ask audiences at schools and workshops if anyone pays themselves what it would cost to replace themselves. Very few hands go up and those that do are usually attached to the arms of Ranching For Profit School grads. Many justify not paying themselves a fair wage claiming that their ranch isn’t profitable enough […]

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Game Changer?

Income – costs = profit, right? The answer is “sort of.” It’s a little more complicated than that because we need to adjust for inventory changes, consider non-cash costs like depreciation and non-cash income like retained heifer calves. But over the long haul, for the most part, income – costs = profit. The obvious conclusion […]

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Records Are A Waste Of Time

Some people think that records are THE key to managerial success. Not me. I think most records are a waste of time. Records give us data. We need information. It takes analysis to turn data into useful information.   The problem is we spend 90% or more of our time collecting the data and only […]

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Is Your Ranch Fire-proof?

The risk of wildfire has always been a normal part of ranching. But today we are faced with a new normal that includes the increased risk of catastrophic wildfire. The number of wildfires hasn’t changed much. There are roughly the same number of fires now as when I was cutting fire lines on a Forest […]

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Survival of the Fittest & Natural Selection

Nature has a strict culling policy. If bulls and bucks don’t breed, or if does and cows don’t wean fawns and calves, their genes aren’t passed on. Survival of the fittest. Most commercial ranchers select for fitness too. If a cow is open or dry, she’s culled. If she’s got a bad udder or isn’t […]

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How Long is Long Enough?

The biggest mistake people make in grazing management is providing too short a recovery period for plants after grazing. Of course too much rest isn’t good either. In drier environments excluding animals from a pasture long after it has recovered will lead to reduced productivity, dead grass and bare soil. In wetter environments it can […]

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To Move or Not To Move

How do you know when it is time to move animals from one pasture to another? Most people figure that if they are out of feed in one pasture, it is time to move. The herd is probably standing at the gate voicing their agreement that it is time to “Mooove.” There’s nothing they’d like […]

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Smart Debt

A lot of people tell me that they want to be “debt free.” They are tired of making big interest payments on land, livestock, machinery and their operating note. They have had too many sleepless nights worrying about making the next payment. They believe that if they didn’t have to borrow money they would be […]

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Free Money Can Be Expensive

Letting government programs dictate your management and set priorities can be costly. The most obvious example is probably the emergency feed program. In drought impacted areas, this program incentivizes ranchers not to destock. The result has been severe overstocking during drought, when the impacts of bad management are intensified.   Even programs like EQUIP (Environmental […]

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