Looking back over 2019, it is easy to see where I might have done something different to have a better outcome in my cattle operation. Maybe something I should have done (or not), something I should have done earlier (or later) or something I should have tried (or not). Each year I spend some time reflecting on these “what-ifs” to decide if the alternative might truly have led to a different outcome. It has been my experience that the first decision generally affects all the others taken in succession in one way or another.
Since almost every decision influences production and economics – even those decisions that are affected by things that can’t be controlled like the weather – there should be alternatives from which to choose. Choosing not to soil test hay pastures or spray for weeds can lead to using too little fertilizer or too much. Both affect production and economics, regardless if it rains or not.
Not adjusting stocking rate to forage conditions; not fertility-testing bulls or pregnancy-checking cows; not choosing the right types of bulls and cows for your management style, market and environment; not choosing to create (with your veterinarian) and use a timely herd health management plan; and not deciding in advance when and how to market calves and culls are all management decisions that influence both production and economics. These decisions should be made at the beginning of the production year, perhaps not Jan. 1 but certainly not the day or week before.
These are important decisions concerning management practices that affect nutrition, reproduction, genetics, health and marketing of your cattle operation. I don’t want to imply that these decisions are simple; they are not. If they were, more of us would be making them in a more timely and effective manner in terms of production and economics.
Many cattle producers in the US and Texas, like those in the Victoria county area (myself included), raise cattle in addition to working full time (I am sure that our employers have a management plan).This is why it is so important to spend a little time this year developing a management plan to do at least one of the practices this year that we didn’t get done last year, to improve the productivity and economic value of our cattle operation.