PROFIT TIPS

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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Boots On The Ground & Eyes Looking Down

I recently participated in a pasture rejuvenation workshop. My presentation on grazing principles was followed by an explanation of a multi-year trial on pasture rejuvenation. I didn’t understand why pasture rejuvenation was such a big issue to the attendees. A well-managed pasture shouldn’t need mechanical, herbicide or seeding treatments to stay healthy and productive. My […]

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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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Pounds per Head or Pounds per Acre

For decades we’ve been encouraged to evaluate the efficiency of production by focusing on weight weaned per cow. Now some are arguing that the critical measure should really be pounds weaned per acre. But neither measure is very useful. Each is just a different side of the same failed paradigm: increasing production will increase profit. […]

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You Can’t Retire From Ranching

How is the next generation ever supposed to step up if the current generation can’t step down or at least step aside? The short answer is they can’t. It’s one reason managerial authority on many ranches skips a generation. More calamitous, it’s a major reason why young people don’t stay in ranching and multi-generational ranches […]

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Who Will Own What?

There are two big pieces to the estate planning puzzle: who will run what (management succession) and who will own what (the transfer of assets). In my last ProfitTips article I called management succession the more difficult of the two because it involves judging the competency of people you love and holding them accountable to […]

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Succession Success

Most people assume that the biggest estate planning fights involve “Who will own what?” It’s been my experience that, “Who will run what?” is often an even bigger issue. “Who will own what?” is usually a question of perceived fairness. To heirs, “Who will run what?” is a question of  respect. As part of a […]

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