Riding Shotgun – Start At The Bottom
As we travel the highways and by-ways of the Limousin family and breed we often cuss and discuss the cattle business, sports, politics, great cheeseburgers and most of the time, the promotion and marketing of Limousin cattle.
Through “Riding Shotgun” we invite you to join us in the right-hand seat, so that we can let you in on what we find to be our marketing pet peeves, shortcuts and some of the favorite habits of top-flight professional producers. Grab a cup of coffee and take the ‘shotgun seat’—we are pleased to have you riding along.
Many times, when I’m out on a consulting trip or looking at calves, the pickup “finds” its way around the pasture until we end up at the best female in the pasture. The proud owner will take their time convincing me how good she is (which is already obvious) and then we will talk about what she has raised and what to breed her to next and spend lots of brain power and energy on the one female in the program that we probably don’t need to worry about.
In the seedstock business, you need to think about “Quality over Quantity”. It has been my experience that the top 50% of the females in any program are accounting for 80% of the income and that’s a good thing. But it also highlights the bottom-end females who are not carrying their weight and really points to where you need to spend a little time studying your hole card.
In 2014 and 2015, when the market was booming, it seemed like a great idea to add a few females to the program by keeping heifers that maybe weren’t as good as they needed to be. Expansion starts almost accidentally—things are good, we’ll just keep a few more replacements and nobody will notice. We won’t cull as hard on the poor producers and no one will notice. Then, as it always happens, the market becomes a little more of a challenge or grass gets short and the next thing you know we’ve got some cows that are a drag on the system.
In the registered seedstock business it is easy to get attached to females that become sentimental favorites. She’s out of your favorite cow, you really like the way she looks, or her pedigree says she ought to work, but she’s not. The problem is, she is a drag on you in more ways than you can imagine. She eats as much as a good one, she requires as much or more time as a good one, and she is not producing like a good one.
We all have that one cow or more that makes us mad and causes us to get discouraged. She calves later every year, she has an udder problem, she’s nasty in a corner, or she brings in the smallest calf. Every time you look at her, she takes away the joy of the cow we talked about at the top. She’s costing you financially and more importantly, she’s taking away your positive passion for the business. She’s giving you the old double whammy.
I would challenge you to lighten your load and your mood by working off those bottom-end cows. Identify who isn’t working and remove them from the program. You will be amazed how much more enjoyable it is to concentrate on the good ones, when you’re not mad about the freeloaders. Please keep in mind, “Quality over Quantity”. Concentrate on those that work. The next thing you know, you are looking at a pasture full of PRODUCERS. Sometimes it works the best to start at the bottom.
We’ll see you down the road.
CONTACT THE AUTHOR
Mark A Smith