Ranch manager: Success lies in planning, tracking, evaluating
While it seems simple, for many beef producers, the secret to success and profit lies in knowing the operation's objective and mapping out a plan to get there.
At the recent 2012 K-State Beef Conference held at Kansas State University, Chip Ramsay, general manager of Rex Ranch in western Nebraska, advised producers to inventory their resources and consider the end goals of their operation before making management decisions.
"Seldom do beef producers have the opportunity to create something from nothing," Ramsay said at the conference. "Most of us inherit something and we have to take inventory to determine what we have, because that makes a difference in where we want to head," he said.
Ramsay has taken his own advice in managing Rex Ranch, letting the inventory and business objectives shape decisions related to grazing management, feeding, culling, breeding, calving and more.
One of the ranch's overarching goals is to lower cost of production while producing a calf that performs well for both the feedyard and the packer. The ranch manager tries to reach this goal by selecting replacement females from cows that produce desirable weaning weights, pregnancy rates, have low labor needs and make efficient use of range resources. Bulls for the ranch are selected from cows that thrive in their environment and exhibit excellent post-weaning performance.
Ramsay also advised producers to do research on their options and seek advice from experts as they plan and explore management options.
Ramsay emphasized to producers the importance of working from a ranch plan. Producers should write down their breeding objectives, inventory and research findings. They should also keep record of their inputs and outcomes, as these become the basis for building or modifying the plan in successive years.
"It's tough to write things down, especially in our industry because our biggest strength is our flexibility," Ramsay said. "We don't know what's going to be thrown at us each day. We've made our living because we are able to adapt."
While it is difficult at times for producers to identify and nail down a direction they want to go, it is essential to moving forward. Just because a goal or direction is written down does not mean it cannot be changed, Ramsay said. It will be crucial to reevaluate and adapt along the way.