Know Your Destination
There isn’t a one-size fits-all approach to running a profitable ranch. If it were as easy as coming up with a list of practices to follow, ranching would be easy and it wouldn’t be nearly as interesting and fun. Those who have never attended a Ranching for Profit School often have the misconception that we ‘convince’ people that they should stop making hay, calve in June and put all their cows together in a big herd and start moving them around. We actually don’t recommend any of those things.
I don’t care when you calve. But if you want to make a profit, show me a cow herd that has a good gross margin and a business that has reasonable overheads. If you can do that calving in January and this meets the objectives of ownership, then who am I to suggest you should change? I don’t care if you make hay or not. Show me a gross margin on a hay business that covers the overheads of the hay business, hits the profit target established by ownership and builds ecological health and I’m all in! It might sound like I’m being sarcastic. I’m not. Every year I see examples of businesses that do these things and are meeting their profit targets. However, I see a lot more businesses that are making an economic loss and need to make a significant shift in their business.
I suppose RMC developed the reputation of suggesting certain practices because many of our alumni identified similar strategies to fix unprofitable businesses. One common way to improve the gross margin of a cow herd is to reduce or eliminate hay feeding. A common way to do that is to shift the calving season to calving well into the green grass season. High overheads associated with high machinery costs are another common problem faced by many ranches. One way to tackle this is to eliminate enterprises that require lots of machinery like hay making.
However, just because these approaches have worked for others doesn’t mean they are right for your business. Before you start making shifts in your practices you must first understand what you are trying to achieve. What is the mission of the business? What is the vision of ownership? What are their core values? These become the roadmap for your journey. Once we understand the map, we can start outlining strategies and practices that are likely to get us to the destination we want.
At the Ranching for Profit School we teach principles that have been time tested over multiple locations. These principles are not dependent on what climate you ranch in. We teach these principles from Mexico to Canada. In fact we are excited to announce we will be returning to Canada to offer a full Ranching for Profit School for the first time since 2016. We will be partnering with the Foothills Forage and Grazing Association to bring the RFP School back to Alberta. The school will take place November 13-19, 2022 just south of Calgary. Enrollment is clipping along so if you’d like to secure a spot in this school you better register soon.