Month: February 2019

You Might Be Cell Grazing If…

by Dave Pratt

A lot of ranchers use some kind of grazing rotation. Very few do it in a way that has even a 50/50 chance of improving the health of the land, the performance of their cattle and the profitability of their businesses.  There are so many names attached to various rotations, it is hard to know from the name what people are doing. Cell grazing is not a grazing system, it is a management method based on 5 fundamental principles.

You might be cell grazing if…

  • You are using at least 10 paddocks per herd.  It takes a minimum of 10 paddocks just to stop the overgrazing.  14-16 are required to support decent animal performance and it’ll take 25 or more if you want to see rapid range improvement.   Ranchers using fewer than 8 paddocks are not rotationally grazing. They are rotationally overgrazing.
  • You have combined several herds into one.  The fastest, cheapest way to create more paddocks per herd is to combine multiple herds into one.
  • You have reduced your workload. It takes a lot more time to check 4 herds of 200 cows than it does to check one herd of 800.
  • Productivity per acre has improved without sacrificing individual animal performance.  Many people using grazing rotations increase output per acre but find that individual performance suffers.  Cell graziers keep graze periods short and animals moving frequently to fresh forage. This tends to keep performance high.
  • You’ve dramatically increased the productivity of your pastures and the carrying capacity of your ranch without seeding or fertilizing pastures. Many Ranching for Profit School alumni have doubled the carrying capacity of their ranches while reducing labor and input costs.

 

You aren’t cell grazing if…

  • Someone asks you how long your recovery periods are and you tell them how often you move the cows. I’m continually surprised by the number of people who describe their grazing practices by explaining the length of their graze period when it’s the rest period that is most important.  The single biggest mistake most people make in grazing management is providing too short a rest period.
  • You use the same recovery period year round.  In cell grazing the recovery period is matched to the growth rate of the pasture.  Since growth rates change, the length of recovery periods needs to change too. Slow growth, long recovery.  Fast growth, shorter recovery.
  • Animals are moved from one pasture to the next in lock-step fashion.  In cell grazing, if a paddock isn’t ready for grazing, the animals should not be moved there.  The animals ought to be moved where the resource dictates they go.
  • You have increased your use of herbicides, fertilizer, seeding or fire.  These tools aren’t bad per-se, but they can have more negative consequences than positive ones.  Cell graziers usually don’t find herbicides, fertilizers or seeding necessary and many have dramatically reduced the need to burn.

Responding to a survey we included in last week’s ProfitTips, reader’s answers revealed several important trends. For example, people reporting that carrying capacity increased “A lot”  used an average of more than 30 paddocks/herd. Readers reporting “A little” increase used an average of 20 paddocks/herd, and those reporting no increase used an average of 10 paddocks per herd. The same trend held true for improvements in pasture quality, animal performance and profit.

 

Your responses also revealed several differences in the grazing practices used by Ranching For Profit School alumni v. non-alumni.  The key differences are:

While more than 60% of RFP alumni completing the survey use at least 14 paddocks per herd, only 40% of non-alumni use that many.

 

RFP alumni reported that the average recovery they gave paddocks during fast growth was two to four weeks longer than the rest periods used by people who have not attended the RFP school.  The difference was even greater during slow growth. The average recovery period used by RFP alumni averaged one to two months longer than the recovery periods used by non-alumni.

 

Most interesting to me is the difference between RFP alumni and non-alumni in the change in workload.  RFP Alumni using 30 paddocks or more were four times more likely than non-alumni to report that cell grazing dramatically reduced their workload. Non-alumni using an equal number of paddocks were twice as likely to report a dramatic increase in their workload.

 

The most dramatic decrease in workload was reported by RFP alumni using more than 50 paddocks per herd. Why would the workload decrease for alumni using that many paddocks?  The majority had also timed the breeding season of their livestock to match the breeding season of wildlife, thereby drastically reducing or eliminating the need for hay. Fewer non-alumni had the breeding season of their herds in sync with the forage cycle.

Climate Change Solutions

Here is a great article from Holistic Management Canada Newsletter September 2018 Whether you believe in Climate Change or not: If you store more carbon in your soil, you will be more profitable, pastures more productive, and your land will be more resilient. As Blain states it is a WIN-WIN solution.

Climate Change Solutions by Blain Hjertaas
Several months ago, I wrote about the history of the climate change and the limited success of change to date. In fact most people are disengaged and feel powerless to effect change on the single greatest event that we have ever faced as a species. This focuses on some of the practical solutions that we are doing and could all be doing.

If you look into climate issues one of the first things you will come across is the Keeling Curve. In 1958 Dr. Charles Keeling set up an observatory on Mauna Loa in Hawaii high on the side of a mountain facing into the Pacific trade winds. He wanted samples that would be representative of world levels. In 1958 the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere was 312 parts per million (PPM). The observatory is still working today and levels are 409PPM (as of July 2). (See attached photos from previous post)

If we look at a single year the levels are the highest in the winter and the lowest in the summer. The reason for this is more land mass in the northern hemisphere. As we green up in the spring the green growth uses a tremendous amount of C02 which brings the curve down. There isn’t an equivalent amount of land in the southern hemisphere to offset our winter period so the curve oscillates being the highest in winter and lowest in summer.

How much? On an annual basis the natural cycles remove about 120 billion tonnes of C02 in the spring and in the fall about 130 billion tonnes are released back into the atmosphere from vegetation dying, land use, fire and burning fossil fuel. Hence the gradual slow increase in the curve which is currently at 409PPM.

If we want to become serious about climate change we need to ramp up photosynthesis, so that we are removing 130 billion tonnes every spring or better yet 140 billion tonnes so we begin to remove the legacy load from the atmosphere. Over time our C02 levels will begin to decline and our climate will become more stable.

The question is how do we do this? Most of our discussions over the last 60 years have focused on limiting our burning of fossil fuels as the solution to climate change. Fossil fuels contribute about 6% of the 130 billion tonnes that move annually in C02 cycle. I’m not saying we shouldn’t burn less fossil fuel. If we want to have an effect why wouldn’t we do something that has a major effect not a 6% effect?

We can see from the above chart, how we have changed the surface of our home over the last 10000 years with agriculture. Instead of 13 billion ha doing photosynthesis, we now have 8.5 billion ha doing photosynthesis and some of that is not very efficient. Crops are only green for 70 or 80 days of the year and the desert is doing nothing. If all 13 billion ha of our surface were functioning effectively we would not be having this discussion.

To solve the problem we need to ramp up photosynthesis worldwide so we are cycling at least 130 billion tonnes per year and better yet 140 billion.

As nature did, we only have one means to do this. That is to maximize plant growth so as to:
• A) Draw down carbon from the air to fix it via plant photosynthesis and then…
• B) Minimize how much of that fixed carbon is oxidized back to CO2 and instead allow it to be…
• C) Converted via soil fungi into stable soil carbon to restore the Earth’s carbon ‘sponge’.
This A, B and C process is simple and natural, but what matters is that we do it, now.
How do we do it on a world scale? I don’t know but part of it is knowledge. The good news is that most of us are already doing it. With our grazing management we are maximizing photosynthetic capture which relates to C02 cycling. The beauty of it is that it gives us more production and makes our system more resilient as we build our soil carbon sponge. It’s a win/ win for everyone as we begin to regenerate our soils using holistic principles.

Spread the good news about what you are doing on your farms and ranches. It is critical we get our good news story out, that we are the solution to climate change.

The above is a very brief summary of the work that Dr. Walter Jehne is doing. HM Canada recently sponsored him at a meeting in Regina.

For more on Dr. Walter Jehne’s work:

READ: http://www.globalcoolingearth.org/regenerate-earth/
WATCH: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nC6j80sLZo

RMC’S TEN FUNDAMENTAL TRUTHS OF SUSTAINABLE RANCHING

  1. TRANSFORMING your businessBEGINS WITHTRANSFORMING yourself

    Transforming your ranch into an effective business involves changes in land management, animal husbandry, money management and in the way you interact with the people in your business. But the biggest change isn’t to the land or the animals. The biggest change is in you.

  2. IT ISN’T SUSTAINABLEif it isn’t  PROFITABLE

    Profit is to business as breathing is to life. A ranch that doesn’t produce an economic profit isn’t a business. It’s a hobby … an expensive hobby.

  3. FOCUS ON effectivenessNOT EFFICIENCY

    Efficiency and effectiveness are not the same thing. It doesn’t do any good to do things right if you are doing the wrong things! If something is efficient, but not effective, stop it immediately!

  4. GET IN SYNCHwith nature

    Most ranch businesses are structured to fight nature. That’s expensive and exhausting. Businesses that match enterprises and production schedules to nature’s cycles are more profitable, less work and more fun!

  5. YOU DON’T GET harmonyWHEN EVERYONE SINGS THE SAME NOTE

    In any business, especially family businesses, there are bound to be differences of opinion. Our decisions are improved when we bring different perspectives and ideas to the table and engage in constructive debate, as long as we agree that, at the end of the day, we all ride for the brand.

  6. WORK LESSand  make more

    Unsustainable effort is unsustainable. Period! Planning is the key to simplifying enterprises, increasing profit and reducing labor.

  7. RANCHINGis a business

    We often act as though we have a choice between ranching as a lifestyle or a business. The lifestyle of ranching improves when the ranch is a successful business first.

  8. WORK ON YOUR BUSINESStwo mornings a week

    It’s not enough to work IN your business, you must work ON your business.

  9. WEALTHY on the balance sheet& BROKE AT THE BANK

    The misallocation of capital is the biggest financial problem in ranching. At the Ranching For Profit School you’ll learn how to capitalize and concessionize assets to increase profit and improve the financial health of your business.

  10. RANCHING FOR PROFITis NOT an oxymoron

    Many ranchers seem to think that profit is dictated by prices and weather…two things beyond our direct control. Ranching for Profit graduates prove every year that the key to profit is management.

Need A Succession Plan? Take A Sabbatical

Long periods of time off let you test people for the next role.

By David BurkusAuthor, “Under New Management”

The majority of small business owners don’t have a succession plan, according to several surveys. While the exact percentage moves around with each survey, it’s almost always above 51 percent, and for a variety of reasons. Chief among them always seems to be that leaders are too busy doing other things to think about it.

Surprisingly, there’s a way to solve both problems at once: take a sabbatical.

Recent research, and the experience of companies from McDonald’s to Intel to the Motley Fool, has found that time off can be used to help stress test the organizational chart and experiment with potential leaders in interim roles.

In one study, researchers surveyed 61 leaders at five different nonprofit organizations with sabbatical programs. Each organization had slightly different requirements, but all required at least 3 months off and discouraged executives from visiting the office during the sabbatical period.

The researchers found the majority of leaders surveyed said that the interim leaders (those who filled in for them during their leave) were more effective and responsible when the sabbatees returned. Many even reported those interim leaders continuing some responsibilities and making the overall leader-subordinate relationship more collaborative. Some organizations even reported feeling much more confident in their succession planning since the interim leaders were able to try out the role and assess if they were qualified and, if not, what development opportunities were still needed. One firm was conducting a national search for a future executive director but ended up hiring the deputy director because she had done so well as the interim leader.

While the research on sabbaticals in the workplace is relatively new, sabbaticals themselves are not. McDonald’s has had a sabbatical program in place for their executives for several years. Many technology companies like Intel and Adobe offer them.

At the very least, having people rotate out for an extended period of time allows organizations to stress test their organizational chart. It gives potential leaders a chance to try out for the next role and it gives senior leaders a chance to see what happens when key people are suddenly not a part of the company anymore. That’s why Motley Fool has run a surprise vacation program for several years. Employees names are chosen at random and given two weeks paid vacation, but there’s a catch: it must be taken within the next four weeks. The idea is to make sure no single employee is so critical that the company falls apart.

You may not ever create a formal succession plan, with developmental goals for future leaders and a set timeline. However, by encouraging yourself and your employees to take time away…you’ll be helping prepare everyone for any sudden departures. For these and a lot of other reasons time off in the form of sabbaticals really pays off.

Be Good at 2 Things

When you’re very good at “n”, there are probably thousands of people who are also good at “n”. But if you are good at “n + 1”, that number is far smaller.

And if you are able to add one (+1) to the equation – it increases your ability to withstand anything that comes your way in Life.

Not only do you have the ability to withstand life’s events – when you add that +1 it increases your chances to build upon your current situation.

An example of this would be your hours getting cut at work – by having that +1 you are now able to make up for the loss and find new opportunities to expand and grow. You have now made yourself indispensable.

Indispensable not only to yourself but to any and all persons around you. With your increased skill set your hours may never be cut in the first place.

The Language You Need to Be Using in Your Marketing

By   /  September 10, 2018  /

You’re Not Selling What You Think You’re Selling…

Most farmers think they sell grass-fed beef, or raw milk, organic chicken or fresh flowers.

But when it comes to marketing, that language won’t help you stand out.

It looks just like your competitor!

What you’re selling is a solution to your customer’s problems.

You’re selling ‘that thing’ your product does for your customers — the reason they buy it.

For Example….

If I Google “Grass-fed beef near me” I find things like this:

“Beef — 100% grass fed and grass finished. Versatile Dexter breed. Call to purchase”

…or, “We raise our cattle on pasture that’s been fortified with minerals that most soil is lacking. The cows are rotated to fresh grass every 24 hours and they are never fed any grain.”

Unless you’re a farmer and you know this lingo, your eyes have glazed over and you’re ready to click on Facebook for something more entertaining.

But you stumble on my farm’s website and read through everything, finally landing on my Products Page where I describe what I sell.

You read, “Ground Beef: Easily the most versatile product we provide — you should always have plenty to spare for those nights you feel totally and completely uninspired and have no intention of getting there. Grill it, loaf it, fry it up with some kale and sweet potatoes for the ultimate Paleo dinner without much effort.”

And then, “Pastured Chicken: The ultimate in buying bulk, one of our chickens will feed your family for two nights with the effort of only one.  Roasted chicken the first night, lettuce wraps, enchiladas, or soup the next.  You’ll have enough time on the “leftovers” day to schedule that pedicure your toes are desperate for.  And the family still eats!”

In this case, I’m NOT selling Ground Beef and Pastured Chicken.

I’m selling the solution my product offers: quick, easy, healthy meals that any busy mom can make.

How do I know what my product does for people?  

I ask them!

When I ask you what you sell, I don’t want to hear that you sell grass-fed beef. I can run down the street to my local grocery store and find grass fed beef, so there’s no reason to drive out of my way to buy from you.

But if you sell a way to get a super healthy dinner on the table fast…or a way to feed their adopted baby formula when they can’t nurse… you are selling so much more than the products you raise.

You are selling a solution your customers are desperate for!

Since this may be a new concept for you, I’ve created an email template for you with the exact questions you can ask your customers to help you discover what your products do for them. Once they respond, you can use their words to market your product to all your other ideal customers.

You can download the email template here. You’ll also find a video I did about how other farmers are using this knowledge and language in their marketing and how they’re attracting new customers because of it. The video is only available for a limited time, so if you’re interested be sure to head on over!

In today’s world, where everyone is looking online for solutions to their struggles and help reaching their goals, you need to make sure your words on your website, your Facebook page, and your Instagram posts, are all connecting with your potential customers in this way.

So, if you’re ready to stand out from every other farmer, grocery store and home delivery meal service, check out the email template and video, and let’s get started.

As always, thanks for being here

Does Buying Older Farm Equipment Save You Money?

Buying Used Tractors is Tempting, but Are You Really Saving Money?