Setting goals can trigger new behaviors
Setting a goal and strategizing realistic ways to achieve it is a widely practiced method for attaining both business and personal successes.
According to a blog post by PositivePsychology, setting goals helps trigger new behaviors, helps guides your focus and helps you sustain that momentum in life. Goals also help align focus and promote a sense of self-mastery. In the end, you can’t manage what you don’t measure and you can’t improve upon something that you don’t properly manage.
Write It Down: Utilizing technology for record keeping is becoming commonplace, but it turns out good old-fashioned writing is scientifically proven to be effective. According to a study published in Psychological Science, using pen and paper, not laptops, to take notes boosts memory and the ability to retain and understand concepts.
Producers don’t necessarily need to hand write a book on their goals, but jotting down some notes can keep a person on track. Andy McCorkill, University of Missouri Extension livestock field specialist, suggested the best place to have your breeding philosophy written down might be on a small card in your wallet or check book to look at while bidding on animals to bring home for breeding. It might reduce the incidence of buyer’s remorse later on down the road.
Show Me the Money: “Making money should be everyone’s central goal,” McCorkill said.
He advised stepping back and taking a close look at the books and evaluating management as a first step toward achieving this goal. From there, producers can identify both short- and long-term strategies.
“Reining in an expense-related activity, such as hay feeding, will be a faster step to profitability than changing the breeding plan,” McCorkill explained.
Once those short-term steps are taken, a producer will have the momentum to move towards the long-term strategies.
“When looking at the breeding plan, profitability should still be a major consideration. For many, a more terminally minded plan focusing on growth and carcass traits will probably be more profitable. If you want to raise your own replacements heifers, a maternal mindset is much more important. It really boils down to your marketing outlet and satisfying it,” McCorkill said.
Mind Your Mother: Even though herd goals will differ from farm to farm, good mothers are at the heart of achieving those objectives. McCorkill explained maternal excellence, with built in longevity, is a must.
He explained a cow generally needs to produce three to five calves before she fully recoups her costs, “so she has to stay around a while to earn her keep.”
Moderately-sized cows, paired with those excellent maternal instincts, will go a long way towards meeting profit minded goals.
“A focus on moderating cow size has been a key for a number of reasons, primarily because bigger cows eat more and can be harder to maintain,” McCorkill explained.
A 1,400-pound cow will need to consume approximately 10 percent more feed on a dry matter basis than a 1,200-pound cow. Cows should also be evaluated for feet, leg and udder structure, and fescue tolerance.
Stay Flexible: It’s been said change is the only constant in life – on a farm, things change almost daily. Staying flexible with meeting herd goals will help a producer develop resilience. “The process of evaluation and keeping an eye open to the future is the key,” McCorkill said. “In a continually changing industry, knowing where to flex is important.”
Setting herd goals will go a long way towards the success and sustainability of a producer’s operation.