Beef Market Advisor

Friday, March 15, 2002

Why Do Ranchers Need Herd Performance Records?

Farm Business Management records from the Northern Plains, U.S. suggest that profit margins per cow are getting smaller and smaller with each 10-year cattle cycle. In today’s economic environment, Running beef cows and running the business of beef cows are now two different management programs. One focuses on a way of life and the other focuses on making business profits. Managing a beef cow herd with today’s smaller profit margins requires new management techniques to be successful.

It is important to recognize why today’s ranchers should use beef herd performance records. First, ranchers should use records to measure the absolute production performance of their beef cow herd. Progress, or the lack of it, is determined by the absolute value of your performance measures. If you are going to mange your herd’s production, you first have to measure it. Yet, many ranchers are trying to go it with out measuring performance.

The second reason ranchers should use herd performance records is to benchmark his herd’s performance measures against a set of Benchmark Herds to answer the question: “ How am I doing?” The power in benchmarking is that it helps you identifying his herd’s performance strengths and weaknesses. Areas where you numbers beat the Benchmark Average identify your business strengths. Areas where the Benchmark Averages beat your numbers, identify your business weaknesses.

Once a rancher has identified his herd’s strengths and weaknesses, he should then direct his management energies to capitalize on his herd’s performance strengths. Expand what you do best.

Then, a rancher should direct additional management energies towards removing one or more of his herd’s performance weaknesses. Benchmarking allows a rancher to move away from crisis-management and into planned- management guided by herd performance records. Benchmarking utilizes production records to suggest where added management attention should generate some big payoffs.

posted by Dr. Harlan Hughes 4:03 PM [edit]

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