Category: Diversity

Grazing Management

http://www.beefresearch.ca/research-topic.cfm/grazing-management-48

Effective grazing management on pastures not only ensures high forage yield, sustainability, animal health and productivity, all of which impact cost of production, it also benefits the pasture ecosystem.  Innovations in pasture management give producers greater control to support the environment (e.g. biodiversity) but also allow them to better use pasture resources for food production.

Pasture is a critical resource in the cattle industry. An effective management plan requires clear understanding of forage production, realistic production goals, effective grazing strategies and timely response to forage availability and environmental changes. Managing grazing lands so that they are productive and persist over time requires knowing when to graze certain species, if they can withstand multiple grazings/cuttings within a single year and how much recovery time is needed to prevent overgrazing (which is a matter of time not intensity)

Plant Growth

  • Plants go through three phases of growth that form an “S” shaped curve
  • Adjust grazing and rest periods to keep plants in Phase II
  • The timing of the growth curve for each forage species is unique and an important factor in determining proper season of use for grazing

Rest and Recovery

  • Overgrazing is a function of time; rest is key to prevent overgrazing
  • When plants are growing slowly the required recovery or rest period will need to be longer than when plants are growing rapidly

Stand Management

  • Plant diversity is important to maintain a productive pasture; if only one kind of plant exists, diversity is narrow, and production will be limited
  • Management of a forage stand relies upon the level of utilization that allows for maximum grazing of forage without damage or negative impact to the vegetation
  • A general guideline employs 50% utilization by weight (biomass) of the key available forage species in a stand

Developing a Grazing Plan

  • A grazing plan that matches animal numbers to predicted forage yields should be carried out before animal turnout
  • Conducting an inventory of resources is essential

Grazing Systems

  • Grazing systems will vary with the climate, plant species, soil types and livestock
  • Four basic principles of management apply:
    • balance the number of animals with available forage supply
    • obtain a uniform distribution of animals over the landscape
    • alternate periods of grazing and rest to manage and maintain the vegetation
    • use the kinds of livestock most suited to the forage supply and the objectives of management

Paddock Design

  • Paddock shape should be determined by the topography, soil type, and species differences to reduce problems with uneven grazing and varying recovery time
  • The size of individual paddocks should be determined by the projected herd size based on forage production potential and preferred stock density
  • Access to water impacts grazing patterns of livestock and understanding this will assist in managing forage utilization
Livestock Distribution
  • Ideal grazing distribution occurs when the entire pasture is grazed uniformly to an appropriate degree within a predetermined time frame
  • Livestock do not graze randomly and must be forced or enticed to seldom used areas
  • Salt and mineral should be placed away from water and used to distribute animals more uniformly

Grazing Legumes

  • Legumes as part of an annual grazing plan can help restore soil nitrogen, increase forage yields and extend pasture carrying capacity
  • Legume grazing requires increased management efforts to ensure optimal stand persistence and animal performance

Grazing Management Terminology and Calculations

  • Stocking rate is the number of animals on a pasture for a specified time period
  • Stock density is the number of animals in a particular area at any moment in time
  • Carrying capacity is the average number of animals that a pasture can support for a grazing season

The efficiency with which plants convert the sun’s energy into green leaves and the ability of animals to harvest and use energy from those leaves depends on the phase of growth of the plants. Plants go through three phases of growth that form an “S” shaped curve (Figure 1).

Phase I occurs in the spring following dormancy or after severe grazing where few leaves remain to intercept sunlight forcing plants to mobilize energy from the roots. The roots become smaller and weaker as energy is used to grow new leaves.

Phase II is the period of most rapid growth. When regrowth reaches one fourth to one third of the plant’s mature size, enough energy is captured through photosynthesis to support growth and begin replenishing the roots.

Phase III material is mature and nutrient content, palatability, and digestibility is relatively poor. Leaves become shaded, die and decompose. During this phase new leaf growth is offset by the death of older leaves.

Adjust grazing and rest periods to keep plants in Phase II. Do not graze plants so short that they enter phase I as regrowth is very slow.  Nor should plants be permitted to mature and enter phase III as shading and leaf senescence reduces photosynthesis. The harvest of energy is maximized by keeping plants in phase II.

Figure 1: The sigmoid (S) growth curve of  a typical forage stand indicates how yield, growth rates and rest periods change over the growing season. (Voisin 1988).

The timing of the growth curve for each forage species is unique and these growth characteristics are an important factor in determining proper season of use for grazing (Figure 2). For example, crested wheatgrass begins growth relatively early in the growing season while native grass species grow later in the season. Based on these characteristics, crested wheatgrass is best grazed early in the season with native rangelands better suited for use in the summer or fall. It is important to recognize that forage species may be grazed outside their optimal season of use however, the subsequent rest period must be extended to allow plants adequate time to recover.

Figure 2 – Average relative yield and period of growth of native grass and seeded pastures in Saskatchewan.

Overgrazing is a function of time and occurs when a plant is grazed (defoliated) before it has recovered from a previous grazing event. This occurs by either leaving grazing animals in a paddock too long or bringing them back too soon, before plants have had a chance to recover and regrow. Rest is key to prevent overgrazing and must occur when the plants are actively growing, not during dormancy.

The length of time that a plant needs to recover following grazing depends on several factors including the type of forage species, plant vigour, and the level of utilization (i.e., how much plant material has been removed). Recovery time also depends on the season or time of year which determines conditions such as daylength and temperature. Fertility and moisture also impact plant growth rates.

When plants are growing slowly, such as in late summer, the required recovery or rest period will need to be longer than when plants are growing rapidly. This relates to the “S” shaped growth curve discussed above. Understanding the phase of the growth curve, the corresponding rate of growth, and the timing of the growth period for each forage species, is critical to management decisions related to adequate rest and recovery periods.

Figure 3: the required recovery or rest period will need to be longer than when plants are growing rapidly

Determining the number of days of rest required is unfortunately, not a simple calculation. Rather, watching and evaluating how pastures regrow and recover will provide the best information. With experience will come the knowledge needed to determine when a pasture has recovered and is ready for grazing.  As a general rule of thumb a minimum recovery period is estimated to be at least 6 weeks.

Maintaining a pasture stand in good condition is critical to a successful grazing plan. Desirable species provide high quality forage and production for a large part of the grazing season. Typically, the desirable forages are hardy grasses and legumes that regrow quickly. Undesirable species are those that are typically unpalatable to the grazing animal or may contain anti-nutritional components. Plant diversity is also important to maintain a productive pasture throughout the entire landscape and growing season. If only one kind of plant exists, diversity is narrow, and production will be limited. If many plant varieties are present, diversity is broad. High plant density must also be maintained as bare and open spots are unproductive and allow for weed encroachment and soil erosion.

Management of a forage stand relies upon the level of utilization that allows for maximum grazing of forage without damage or negative impact to the vegetation, including both above and below ground growth. Determining the optimum amount of forage to remove versus leave behind is not an easy task and depends upon plant, animal and environmental factors. Research findings and professional judgement help provide guidelines for determining appropriate level of utilization, but experience is the best guide. A general guideline often employed by grazing mangers employs the ‘take half, leave half’ rule or 50% utilization by weight (biomass) of the key available forage species in a stand. This level of utilization fits a moderate level of grazing intensity and is a good starting guideline to employ. However, it is important to adjust utilization rates based upon site-specific variables including forage species, time of year, available forage, and overall management goals.

The overall condition of a forage stand impacts the number of animals that a pasture can support and the length of time that grazing can occur. Factors such as previous grazing management, species of forage, age of stand, soil type, texture, fertility level and moisture conditions all influence forage yield and quality and consequently stocking rate. Understanding these factors and implementing a grazing system is key to effective grazing management.

An interactive Forage Species Selection Tool is available to assist land managers in selecting the correct forage species best suited their land. Seeding rate and seed cost calculators are integrated as well.

Visit the Rangeland and Riparian Health page for more information, including videos, related to pasture condition and health assessments.

A grazing plan that matches animal numbers to predicted forage yields should be carried out before animal turnout.

An important first step in developing a plan includes defining goals and objectives for the entire grazing operation. This includes profitability measures, lifestyle choices, and biological outcomes such as soil health, forage production, ecosystem impacts and animal performance.

Conducting an inventory of resources is essential. How much forage is available and at what times during the grazing season? Is the forage source able to meet the intended animals’ nutritional requirements? How long is the intended grazing season? What physical infrastructure is available or needed?

This process of completing an inventory and evaluating resources is critical to developing and implementing a successful grazing system. The Pasture Planner: A Guide to Developing Your Grazing System provides an excellent resource to assist producers with planning, development and/or modification of their grazing system. It includes a number of worksheets and templates useful in the inventory and planning process.

A grazing system is the way a producer manages forage resources to feed animals, balancing livestock demand (both quantity and quality) with forage availability and promoting rapid pasture re-growth during the grazing season as well as long-term pasture persistence.Grazing systems will vary with the climate, plant species, soil types and livestock. Systems that are commonly used in Canada include continuous grazing or controlled grazing systems which are numerous and varied, even in their terminology, including but not limited to: rotational grazing, forward grazing, creep grazing, strip grazing, limit grazing, stockpile grazing and extended grazing.

A number of resources exist which provide an excellent overview of the types, development, and implementation of grazing systems. Examples include:

Maritime Pasture Manual: Chapter 2 – Grazing Systems

Managing Saskatchewan Rangeland

Pasture Planner: A Guide for Developing Your Grazing System

With continuous grazing, animals will naturally graze the most palatable plant species most frequently. Root reserves are eventually exhausted, and plants may die. In highly stocked continuously grazed pastures, regrowth will be grazed quite frequently. Lightly stocked continuously grazed pastures consist of patches of plants in phase I and phase III. If animals are forced to eat phase III material, their daily intake will drop, reducing animal gains.

In a controlled grazing system, animals only have access to relatively small parts of a pasture for a period of time. Pastures are divided into paddocks where the land is grazed for relatively short periods of time following which, livestock are removed to ensure the plants have adequate time to recover before being grazed again. Because this requires more knowledge of forage plants and pasture-animal interactions, controlled grazing is often referred to as management-intensive grazing (MIG).

Whether managing native rangeland or tame forage species, four basic principles of management apply:

  • balance the number of animals with available forage supply
  • obtain a uniform distribution of animals over the landscape
  • alternate periods of grazing and rest to manage and maintain the vegetation
  • use the kinds of livestock most suited to the forage supply and the objectives of management.

Stocking rate histories on similar fields in the same area can be very useful in setting initial stocking rates. The optimum number of animals on a pasture makes efficient use of the forage but leaves enough plant material behind to allow a quick and complete recovery.

When developing a grazing system, paddock shape should be determined by the topography, soil type, and species differences to reduce problems with uneven grazing and varying recovery time. If a paddock has a lot of variation in it, some areas will be underutilized while others are severely grazed.

The size of individual paddocks should be determined by the projected herd size based on forage production potential and preferred stock density to keep the frequency of cattle moves consistent. As productivity of the land increases, paddock size should be reduced to achieve desired levels of utilization. Generally, square paddocks offer more uniform forage utilization and better manure distribution compared to long narrow shapes.

Developing a practical water distribution system is an important consideration in designing an efficient grazing plan and paddock design. Access to water impacts grazing patterns of livestock and understanding this will assist in managing forage utilization. It is recommended that pasture systems be designed to provide water sources within 600 to 800 feet of all areas of a paddock for optimum uniformity of grazing2.  Portable water systems are a powerful tool for managing grazing distribution and manure cycling. If water cannot be provided in each paddock, laneways designed to bring the stock to the water source are the next alternative. Plan the pasture layout to minimize laneway length and keep laneway width within 16 –24 feet to reduce the amount of loafing by animals3. Similarly, minimizing the common area around a water source will reduce the amount of time that animals spend congregating at the site.

 

Proper livestock distribution, achieved by spreading grazing animals over a pasture management unit to obtain uniform use of all forage resources, can increase production. Grazing distribution varies with the kind and class of grazing animal, topography, location of water, salt and mineral placement, forage palatability, vegetation type, forage quality, forage quantity, location of shade and shelter, fencing patterns, pasture size, grazing system, stock density, and prevailing winds.

Ideal grazing distribution occurs when the entire pasture is grazed uniformly to an appropriate degree within a predetermined time frame. Cattle, being creatures of habit, rarely graze uniformly when left alone. They graze convenient areas, especially those near water and easily accessible. Livestock do not graze randomly and must be forced or enticed to seldom used areas.

Improving grazing distribution results in higher harvest efficiency because livestock consume a greater proportion of the available forage. It also spreads defoliation effects across a greater proportion of available forage plants.

Methods for improving livestock distribution include:

  • managing stock density and/or season of grazing;
  • forcing animals to specific locations by fencing;
  • using grazing management strategies such as rotational grazing;
  • enticing animals to specific locations with water, salt, supplemental feed, or rub and oiler placement; and
  • using the kind and class of livestock best suited to the terrain and vegetation characteristics.

Placement of water developments is probably the most important factor affecting grazing distribution as water is the central point of grazing activities. Near water, plants are heavily used and forage production drops. Reducing pasture size and reducing the distance to water can significantly improve livestock distribution. Salt and mineral should be placed away from water and used to distribute animals more uniformly.

Topography is an important cause of poor grazing distribution. Where possible, pastures should be fenced to minimize variability in topography, plant communities, and timing of plant growth.

Shade is another important factor of animal distribution as animals will migrate towards these areas during the hot times of the day to stay cool and to avoid insect irritation.

Legumes as part of an annual grazing plan can be advantageous as these plants can help restore soil nitrogen, increase forage yields and extend pasture carrying capacity. Improved animal performance may also be achieved when grazing stands containing legumes. However, legume grazing requires increased management efforts to ensure optimal stand persistence and animal performance.

Producers are often hesitant to seed alfalfa for grazing purposes due to fears of bloat even though yield and productivity could be increased. To gain the benefits of grazing this legume, careful management is critical. To reduce the risk:

  • do not move cattle onto new pasture when it’s wet with heavy dew, rainfall or irrigation water. Grazing alfalfa when it is wet increases the possibility of bloat, so it’s better to move animals to a new pasture in the afternoon rather than in the morning.
  • never allow animals to stand hungry before turning them into an alfalfa pasture, as it can lead to overconsumption of fresh alfalfa.
  • wait until alfalfa is in full bloom to graze. Bloat risk is highest when alfalfa is in vegetative to early bloom stages of growth. As alfalfa enters the full bloom or post bloom stages, soluble protein levels decrease, plant cell walls thicken, lignin content increases, and the rate of digestion of alfalfa in the rumen decreases.
  • do not graze alfalfa for three days to two weeks following a killing frost. Frost may increase the incidence of bloat by rupturing plant cell walls, leading to a high initial rate of digestion. Delay grazing alfalfa until the stand dries. The time required to dehydrate varies by location and weather.

The risk of bloat when grazing pure alfalfa stands can also be reduced through the selection of reduced bloat varieties (e.g. AC Grazeland) and the use of products including Bloat-Guard, the Rumensin CRC bolus, or Alfasure.

Many producers prefer to avoid bloat by seeding alfalfa-grass mixtures. Depending on the percentage of alfalfa in the mix, this can reduce the risk of bloat but maintaining alfalfa within the stand can be a challenge. Over time plants disappear from the stand eliminating many of the benefits including increased fertility.

A study in Swift Current, Saskatchewan4 showed that alfalfa and sainfoin plant counts both dropped by 50% over the four-year grazing trial. Research conducted near Brandon, Manitoba also found that the alfalfa percentage in a mix declined from 75.4 – 84.1% to 32.5 – 40.3% over a four-year period5.

The following management techniques can help to maintain legumes in a stand:

  • in the spring, wait until alfalfa is three to four inches tall before grazing. After the spring grazing period ends, allow the alfalfa to regrow for about 25 to 40 days before grazing again or cutting for hay.
  • allow plants rest during September and October, or control grazing to maintain at least 6 to 8 inches of standing alfalfa at all times.
  • avoid reducing stubble height to less than 2 or 3 inches in late fall to help protect alfalfa from winter damage.
  • allow plants to grow without cutting or grazing for at least four to six weeks prior to the first killing frost.

There are many other legume species that in more recent times are seeing increased use within grazed pasture stands. This includes sainfoin, cicer milkvetch, birdsfoot trefoil, alsike clover, red clover, white clover, kura clover, sweet clover, and purple or white prairie clover. These legumes may not have the yields of alfalfa but may better suit the land, soil type, or management system. Legumes including sainfoin, birdsfoot trefoil, purple prairie clover and white prairie clover contain condensed tannins which can reduce protein breakdown in the rumen and prevent bloat. Having protein digested in the small intestine instead of by the rumen bacteria contributes to more efficient animal growth. If these tannin-containing legumes are seeded in a mixture with alfalfa they will “actively” reduce bloat risk. Cicer milk vetch does not have tannins but is slower to digest so will not cause bloat.

As a non-bloating legume, animal gains on sainfoin pastures can be as efficient and rapid as on alfalfa pasture. Sainfoin is resistant to the alfalfa weevil, grows earlier in the spring and later in the fall. Researchers at AAFC Lethbridge have been selecting sainfoin for improved yield, regrowth and survival in alfalfa stands, and have found that sainfoin’s survival depends partly on the alfalfa variety it is grown with, as well as where it is grown.

More information about legume grazing strategies and research being conducted can be found in the following BCRC Factsheets:

Keeping legumes in pasture stands longer

New sainfoin varieties

Increasing fall productivity in winter-hardy alfalfa

Grazing alfalfa more safely

Improving abiotic stress tolerance in alfalfa

A working knowledge of grazing management terms and calculations is an extremely useful tool when planning and developing practical, successful grazing plans. The ability to prepare and estimate forage utilization means less uncertainty when dealing with management decisions in ‘real time’ once animals are grazing pastures.

The animal unit (AU) is a standard unit used in calculating the relative grazing impact of different kinds and classes of livestock. One animal unit is defined as a 1000 lb (450 kg) beef cow with or without a nursing calf, with a daily dry matter forage requirement of 26 lb (11.8 kg).

An animal unit month (AUM) is the amount of forage to fulfill metabolic requirements by one animal unit for one month (30 days). One AUM is equal to 780 lbs (355 kg) of dry matter forage.

Forage requirements change with the size and type of animal. Metabolic weight (live weight to the 0.75 power) accounts for significant variation in dry matter intake among animals of different size and provides a more accurate estimate of forage demand. Animal Unit Equivalents (AUE) have been calculated for various species and sizes of animals. Table 1 provides beef cattle size categories and corresponding animal unit equivalents.

Table 1: Beef cattle size categories and corresponding animal units

Stocking rate is the number of animals on a pasture for a specified time period and is usually expressed in Animal Unit Months (AUM) per unit area. For example, an area that supports 30 (1,000 lb) cows for a four-month grazing season has a stocking rate of 120 AUMs for that area. If the pasture is 100 acres in size, the stocking rate would be expressed as 1.2 AUM/acre (120 AUMs divided by 100 acres). Your stocking rate will not stay the same year after year, so you will need to adjust the number of animals you intend to graze to achieve the desired stocking rate for each pasture within your grazing system.

Stock density is the number of animals in a particular area at any moment in time and increases as the number of animals in a paddock increase or as paddock size decreases and is based on level of grazing management. For example, a herd of 30 (1,000 lb) cows on a 2 acre paddock fenced off within the larger 100 acre land base has a stock density of 15,000 lbs/acre (30 cows x 1,000 lbs/cow divided by 2 acres) or 15 Animal Units/acre (1 AU = 1,000 lb therefore 15,000 lbs/acre divided by 1,000 lb = 15 AU/acre), even though the stocking rate for the entire 100 acre pasture is 1.2 AUMs/acre. The difference between these two values is the time factor.

Carrying capacity is the average number of animals that a pasture can support for a grazing season. It is a measure of a pasture’s ability to produce enough forage to meet the animal requirements over the long term and is expressed in AUMs.

Calculation of stocking rates or grazing acreage needed is done by the following steps:

  • estimate the production of each paddock as it is about to be grazed each time to acquire a total production estimate. Include the appropriate rate of utilization (e.g., managing pasture to utilize 50% of the forage available).
  • estimate animal consumption (per day) – nursing cows (with calves) and growing steers or replacement heifers consume approximately 2.5% of body weight (1 AU requires ~ 26 lb forage/day) as forage dry matter.
  • calculate stocking rates (animals/acre) by multiplying your average forage yield (lb/acre) by utilization rate, then divide by the amount an animal unit is expected to consume per month. The formula would look like this:

Stocking rate (AUM/acre) = (Forage yield [lb/acre] x (Utilization rate [%] ÷ 100)) ÷ 780 lb/AU/month

The Perfect Business Model

I have a great idea for a business!  Let me give you some of the details and then tell me if you will be willing to invest! My idea is to have a grocery store with about 70% less square footage than all my competitors.  We are going to do no advertising in the community; no newspaper advertising, no radio or TV, no mailers to local households. Our selection will be limited with no nationally known brands like Campbell’s Soup or General Mills, in fact we will only have our personal brand or brands you most likely have never heard of or seen before. Oh! And by the way, we will have only 1/10th the inventory available at a full-size supermarket. Are you ready to line up and hand over your money?

I didn’t think so and neither would I, if I didn’t know “the rest of the story.”

The grocery chain I just described is Trader Joe’s. The chain was created almost by accident or fate! The original Joe was Joe Coulombe, a Stanford University graduate who went to work for Rexall Drug Store, a national chain. In the late 1950s Rexall came up with a novel idea, they would start a “convenience” type store that had small square footage and sold necessities (Yes, we are talking a 7-Eleven style convenience store). Their test market was a chain called Pronto Market and started with half a dozen stores in the Los Angeles area. Joe was over the project and firmly believed it was a great idea.

Unfortunately (but fortunately for Joe!) Rexall gave up on the idea in 1958 and instructed Joe to shut down all the stores.  Instead he raised money and bought all the stores (Rexall was happy to get rid of all the locations).

Joe Coulombe grew Pronto Markets to 17 stores before Dallas-based Southland Corporation (creator of the 7-Eleven brand) expanded to Southern California, Joe knew he could never compete with the marketing muscle and economies of scale of 7-Eleven locations. Legend has it that Joe took a trip to Hawaii and came up with the idea of a new kind of grocery store that was laid back and sold specialty items that were organic, quality and well-priced.  He named his stores “Trader Joe’s.” The first store opened in 1967, about the time of the “surf movement” and a new generation of laid-back Americans (especially in California) came along. His timing could not have been better and over 20 years he opened one store per year, all with Hawaiian tropical themes. Yes, his employees wore Hawaiian shirts!

In 1979 Trader Joe’s was bought out by a German grocery magnate named Theo Albrecht. He persuaded Joe to remain and did not change the successful model. So how well has the “no marketing, no advertising, limited choices, off brand” concept worked?  Well, the average Trader Joe’s is twice as profitable per square foot of store space than the large national chains. To its many loyal customers, it is almost a cult. One customer in Kansas City who traveled to California would fill up a large suitcase on each visit. He even set up a Kansas City Facebook page to try and get a location started in Kansas City. By the way, he was successful!

Trader Joe’s management and ownership refuses to give interviews or release any information to anyone and refuses to do any media interviews. They are now up to over 470 locations in 44 states and growing. Here are a few facts about Trader Joe’s:

  • In February 2008, BusinessWeek reported that the company had the highest sales per square foot of any grocer in the United States.
  • The May 2009 issue of Consumer Reports ranked Trader Joe’s the second-best supermarket chain in the United States (after Wegmans)
  • In June 2009, MSN Money released its third annual Customer Service Hall of Fame survey results. Trader Joe’s ranked second in customer service among all companies, not just grocery stores.

A former employee who had owned an advertising agency sold it and, on a whim, went to work for Trader Joe’s with the intent of writing a book. Mark Gardiner became a “crew member” as employees are called but resigned before he published his book knowing the secretive company would fire him.  His book, “Build a Brand Like Trader Joe’s” reveals what Gardiner believes to be the success factors of this remarkable and loved company. (The drum roll please!) Here they are:

  • They only hire friendly people with relationship-oriented personalities (okay, that makes sense but why doesn’t everyone do it?)
  • When you ask for help you are not pointed without emotion to aisle seven, half way down on the right. The crew member, with a smile, walks you to the product, picks it up for you and even gives you details about the product. Before the crew member leaves, he/she offers further assistance.
  • If you don’t like what you bought you can return it at any time, no questions asked for a full “cash” refund.
  • They pay above average wages and offer solid benefits to employees (Yes, that’s right, employees are treated like customers!  Crazy idea!)
  • There are no automatic checkout lines (Yes, you have to talk with friendly people! Going to Trader Joe’s is like going to meet a friend).
  • They encourage interaction with customers.  If you are stocking a shelf you stop what you are doing to assist customers.

Okay, let’s simplify all of this to one thing, “The customer is treated like the most important person in the world while in the store.” I know, too simple, there must be more to it.

Actually…not!

Ken Blanchard, the famous business writer and consultant said it best, “Just having satisfied customers isn’t good enough anymore. If you really want a booming business, you have to create raving fans.”

In today’s world, happy customers are your best source of new business, are more powerful that any advertising campaign, and will allow you to grow your business with the greatest profit margin. Happy employees make all this happen! When Circuit City decided to cut staff to save money and cut salaries, they were bankrupt in two years. One of the most powerful brands in the world, Sears, followed the same path and they are on their last breath.

The simplest truths always prevail, put your customer first and the rest falls in place. There is no magic formula, only magical people who go the extra mile and truly care about others.  Look for these people and hire them! You won’t be sorry! (by the way, give these magical people the right to make decisions on the spot to help customers) Are you ready to invest? Me too!

7 Things to Start Being More Productive, Today

Working smarter, not harder, is the key to better results

When I was 17 years old, I used to work and study for about 20 hours a day. I went to school, did my homework during breaks and managed a not-for-profit organization at night. At that time, working long hours landed me countless national campaigns, opportunities to work with A-list organizations and a successful career. As I got older, I started to think differently. I realized that working more is not always the right, or only, path to success.

Sometimes, working less can actually produce better results.
Consider a small business owner who works nonstop. Working hard won’t help him compete with his corporate competitors. That’s because time is a limited commodity. An entrepreneur could work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but his or her competitor can always spend more money, assemble a team and spend a lot more collective man hours on the same project. Then why have small startups accomplished things that some larger corporations couldn’t? Facebook bought Instagram, a company with 13 employees at the time, for one billion dollars. Snapchat, a startup with 30 employees, was turning down offers from Facebook and Google. Part of each of their successes was based on luck, and some on efficiency.

The key to success is not working hard. It’s working smart.
There’s a notable distinction between being busy and being productive. Being busy doesn’t always necessarily mean you’re being productive. Despite what some might believe, being productive is less about time management and more on managing your energy. It’s the business of life. It’s learning how to spend the least amount of energy to get the most benefits. I personally learned how to reduce my work week from 80 hours to 40 hours, and get a lot more work done in the process. For me, less is more.

Here are seven things I stopped doing to become more productive.

1. Stop working overtime and increase your productivity instead.

Have you ever wondered where the five-day, 40-hour work week came from? In 1926, Henry Ford, American industrialist and founder of Ford Motor Company, conducted an experiment with his own staff:

He decreased their daily hours from 10 to 8, and shortened the work week from 6 days to 5. As a result, he saw his workers’ productivity increase.

The more you work, the less effective and productive you become over both the short and long term, states a 1980 report from The Business Roundtable titled “Scheduled Overtime Effect on Construction Projects.”

Source: Calculating Loss of Productivity Due to Overtime Using Published Charts — Fact or Fiction

“Where a work schedule of 60 or more hours per week is continued longer than about two months, the cumulative effect of decreased productivity will cause a delay in the completion date beyond that which could have been realized with the same crew size on a 40-hour week.”
Source: Calculating Loss of Productivity Due to Overtime Using Published Charts — Fact or Fiction

In an article for AlterNet, editor Sara Robinson referenced research conducted by the US military which revealed that “losing just one hour of sleep per night for a week will cause a level of cognitive degradation equivalent to a .10 blood alcohol level.” You can get fired for coming to work drunk, but it’s acceptable to pull an all-nighter.

Irrespective of how well you were able to get on with your day after that most recent night without sleep, it is unlikely that you felt especially upbeat and joyous about the world. Your more-negative-than-usual perspective will have resulted from a generalized low mood, which is a normal consequence of being overtired. More important than just the mood, this mind-set is often accompanied by decreases in willingness to think and act proactively, control impulses, feel positive about yourself, empathize with others, and generally use emotional intelligence.
Source: The Secret World of Sleep: The Surprising Science of the Mind at Rest

It’s important for us not to overwork ourselves and get enough sleep to maintain a high level of productivity. Next time you’re wondering why you may not be working productively, the reason may be simple as you being deprived of adequate sleep. (James Maas, a sleep researcher and expert, revealed that at least seven out of every 10 Americans don’t get enough sleep.)

  • Did you know?
  • Leonardo da Vinci took multiple naps a day and slept less at night.
  • The French emperor Napoleon was not shy about taking naps. He indulged daily.
  • Though Thomas Edison was embarrassed about his napping habit, he also practiced this ritual on a daily basis.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, used to boost her energy before speaking engagements by napping.
  • Gene Autry, “the Singing Cowboy,” routinely took naps in his dressing room between performances.
  • President John F. Kennedy ate his lunch in bed and then settled in for a nap—every day!
  • Oil industrialist and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller napped every afternoon in his office.
  • Winston Churchill’s afternoon nap was a non-negotiable. He believed it helped him get twice as much done each day.
  • President Lyndon B. Johnson took a nap every afternoon at 3:30 p.m. in order to break his day up into “two shifts.”
  • Though he was criticized for it, President Ronald Reagan famously took naps as well.

Source: 5 Reasons Why You Should Take a Nap Every Day — Michael Hyatt

On a personal note, since I started getting at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night, I’ve noticed a change: I became a lot more productive and got a lot more work done in comparison to when I worked 16 hours a day. Who knew sleeping was such a great tool for marketers?

2. Don’t say “yes” too often

According to the Pareto principle, 20 percent of the effort produces 80 percent of the results; however, 20 percent of the results consumes 80 percent of the effort. Instead of working harder, we should focus primarily on the efforts that produce the majority of the results and forgo the rest. That way, we have more time to focus on the most important tasks. Stop saying “yes” to tasks that yield little or no result.

“The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say “no” to almost everything.”
— Warren Buffett

So what should you say “yes” to? And when should you say “no”? If you can’t figure out if something is going to be worth your time, consider running a simple split test. Consider tracking everything you do, and the time it takes to complete each task, and the results. Then go back, assess your list to see what did (or didn’t) prove fruitful, and take your findings into consideration to optimize for future tasks.

Most of us say yes more often than we should, for a variety of reasons, including guilt and overstretching ourselves, but also because it is so much easier than saying no. Nobody wants to be the bad guy.


In a 2012 study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, researchers split 120 students in two groups. One group was trained to use the phrase “I can’t” when discussing the specific choices, while the other was trained to use “I don’t” in framing their decisions.

The students who told themselves “I can’t eat X” chose to eat the chocolate candy bar 61% of the time. Meanwhile, the students who told themselves “I don’t eat X” chose to eat the chocolate candy bars only 36% of the time. This simple change in terminology significantly improved the odds that each person would make a more healthy food choice.

Next time you need to avoid saying yes, use “I don’t” in your refusal, to reinforce the helpful behavior of saying no to things that aren’t worth it.

Another great trick is to avoid activities that don’t add enough value to your life is the 20-second rule: For activities you shouldn’t be engaging in, or negative habits you want to break, add an element of difficulty, adding on a 20-second roadblock, so to speak, to you starting that activity. For example, if you’re trying to use lessen your use of social media, delete the tempting apps from your phone, so that it takes you another 20 seconds to find your laptop to access them. By adding in an inconvenience, you’ll be less likely to engage with that draining activity or habit.

Lower the activation energy for habits you want to adopt and raise it for habits you want to avoid. The more we can lower or even eliminate the activation energy for our desired actions, the more we enhance our ability to jump-start positive change.
Source: The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work

3. Stop doing everything yourself and start letting people help you

At some point in my career, I was managing a very large community and couldn’t handle it all myself. I burnt out, and the community ended up taking over and managing itself. Surprisingly, members did a better job than I could have ever done on my own. I learned the power of community and why brands need user-generated content.

Consumers understand what they want and how they want it better than any marketer does. Did you know that, according to Octoly, user-generated videos are viewed 10 times more than brand-generated videos on YouTube? When seeking information about a particular brand, over half (51 percent) of Americans trust user-generated content more than what’s on the brand’s official website (16 percent) or media coverage on the brand (14 percent). It’s important for marketers to open up and seek help from the brand’s community itself.


Source: Earned Media Rankings on YouTube — Octoly
Being a great content marketer is not about creating the best content, but building a great community that will generate high-quality content for you.

 

It’s important for us to realize we can seek help when we need it. Sometimes it’s impossible to do everything ourselves. It‘s better to let someone, or a team, share the work, giving you more time to focus on the most important tasks. Instead of wasting time and energy overloading yourself or trying to do it alone, let others share the burden and help.

Often times, even if your friends or coworkers can’t help you, simply having them around can help you become more productive.

Just having friends nearby can push you toward productivity. “There’s a concept in ADHD treatment called the ‘body double,’ ” says David Nowell, Ph.D., a clinical neuropsychologist from Worcester, Massachusetts. “Distractible people get more done when there is someone else there, even if he isn’t coaching or assisting them.” If you’re facing a task that is dull or difficult, such as cleaning out your closets or pulling together your receipts for tax time, get a friend to be your body double.
Source: Friendfluence: The Surprising Ways Friends Make Us Who We Are

4. Stop being a perfectionist

“We found that perfectionism trips up professors on the way to research productivity. The more perfectionistic the professor, the less productive they are,” Dr. Simon Sherry, a psychology professor at Dalhousie University who conducted a study on perfectionism and productivity, told University Affairs. Dr. Sherry found a robust correlation between increased perfectionism and decreased productivity.

Here are some problems associated with being a perfectionist:

  • They spend more time than required on a task.
  • They procrastinate and wait for the perfect moment. In business, if it is the perfect moment, you are too late.
  • They miss the big picture while focusing too much on the small things.
  • Marketers often wait for the perfect moment. In doing so, they end up missing it.

The perfect moment is NOW.

5. Stop doing repetitive tasks and start automating.

According to a research study conducted by Tethys Solutions, a team of five people who spent 3 percent, 20 percent, 25 percent, 30 percent and 70 percent of their time on repetitive tasks, respectively, reduced their time spent to 3 percent, 10 percent, 15 percent, 15 percent and 10 percent after two months of working to enhance their productivity.


Source: Using Automation Software To Increase Business Productivity & Competitiveness -Tethys Solutions
A week ago, I spent 15 minutes writing a basic Python program. The idea was to generate content from the data, which I pulled from Twitter API using a Ruby bot, and then using Hootsuite to bulk schedule the content. While this task used to take me an entire day to accomplish, it now takes me less than five minutes thanks to automation. Nowadays, whenever I find that I’ve done something more than five times, I ask myself if I can find a program to automate it for me.

You don’t have to be able to code to automate your repetitive tasks. It’s nice to have the skills or the resources, but it’s not a requirement. If you cannot build it, buy it.

People often forget that time is money. People usually do things manually because it’s easy and requires almost no research. It’s manageable to moderate 30 images on Instagram for your user-generated campaign. But if you have to manage 30,000 photos and videos from five different platforms, you need a good digital asset management software. At Filemobile, we help people solve that problem and generate even more user-generated content. Just like managing rich media, you can easily purchase a software to solve almost all of your problems on the internet.

If you still can’t find a solution, you can hire an expert to help you. Keep in mind that you need to spend money to make money and that time is your most valuable commodity.

Tips for marketers: check out GitHub or Google Apps Script library. Often times, you’ll find free, ready-to-use open source code that requires very little programming knowledge.

6. Stop guessing and start backing up your decisions with data

If you can optimize websites for search engines, you can optimize your life to grow and reach your maximum potential.

There are countless research studies that can offer insight on optimizing your productivity. For instance, did you know that most people are more easily distracted between noon to 4 p.m.? This was the conclusion that came from research shared by Robert Matchock, an associate professor of psychology at Pennsylvania State University. But even if you can’t find data on a particular question you might have, it doesn’t take a lot of time to run a simple split test and examine your own results.

7. Stop working, and take some time to do nothing at all.

Most people don’t realize that when we are too focused on something, we’re essentially locking ourselves in a box which can end up being counterproductive to our work or the results we’re chasing. It’s important to walk away from work once in a while and have some alone time, which is good for the brain and spirit, according to “The Power of Lonely,” from The Boston Globe.

One ongoing Harvard study indicates that people form more lasting and accurate memories if they believe they’re experiencing something alone. Another indicates that a certain amount of solitude can make a person more capable of empathy towards others. And while no one would dispute that too much isolation early in life can be unhealthy, a certain amount of solitude has been shown to help teenagers improve their moods and earn good grades in school.
Source: The Power of Lonely

It‘s important to take time for reflection. We often find the solutions we’re looking for when we’re not actively searching for them.

It’s also important to understand that we don’t become more productive overnight. Like everything in life, it requires effort and practice. Change doesn’t happen just by sitting around and waiting for it. Instead, take the time to learn more about your body and find actionable ways to optimize your energy and time for a more successful and happier life.

Disclosure: Filemobile (acquired by NewZulu) is a former client of my agency, ThinkRenegade.

Go to the profile of CamMi Pham
WRITTEN BY
CamMi Pham
Unlearner | Marketer |Partner @ Growth + eCommerce Marketing Agency @ThinkRenegade| Write http://www.cammipham.com cammi@themgmt.agency

Managing Millennial Employees Requires New Approach

Jared Wareham

September 20, 2018 10:07 AM
An investment in learning who they are, what their innate skills are, and why they reason the way they do is a wise managerial strategy. ( Drovers )

By Jared Wareham, Top Dollar Angus

If there is a topic that stands out above all else when discussing the management of employees and maintaining continuity within your workforce, it is the maligned millennial worker. They seem to be a bit of an enigma, and at times, a punching bag. No one can seem to figure them out or consistently connect with them.

While there are many outstanding individuals from this generation making significant contributions to our industry, it is their generation as a group that is brought up more than any other issue managers face. After listening to countless conversations about the average millennial worker and their “short-comings,” I’ll share a few insights that might be worth consideration.

imageFirst, as a manager, don’t fall into an assumption’s trap by projecting your persona onto others, millennials in particular. A conscious recognition that younger peers do not think like we do is important. Failure to establish this from the get-go will only lead to disappointment and detachment. You have to throw out all assumptions and start from ground zero.

Getting to know them could be huge with this generation. Many are not adapted to, or aligned with, the confines of regimented schedules and timetables in the traditional ways we are accustomed to through our life-training. An investment in learning who they are, what their innate skills are, and why they reason the way they do is a wise managerial strategy.

Talk With Them About Their Goals

Do it without assuming they know how to even set and attack goals. This might be a new skill that requires substantial professional development. Previous generations grew up earning most of what they had, therefore, they understood the value of advancement through goal setting, skill building and sheer effort.

On average, the millennial generation grew up during a period of significant change in average household income and generational wealth accumulation. Not having to “do without” could be a major contributor to the stunted development of those skill sets associated with learning how and why to work. A wolf pup learns why and how to hunt during long grueling treks for food with the pack. This process of learning through failure and triumph creates hardened, savvy hunters that never take a meal for granted. Perhaps this form of early imprinting has been lost and the key to being an effective manager moving forward will be linked to its resurrection.

As time goes on, I think we will learn that skill building in traditional areas of technology, dynamic thinking, information management and systems thinking need far less consideration than previous generations. In fact, those areas that used to be the prime focus of professional development for the last two generations could be very basic in nature to millennials and subsequent generations. The skill areas in dire need of development might revolve around what has been considered very basic to us: how to work, goal setting, effective non-instrument driven communication and simple leadership qualities.

 

Jared Wareham is general manager of Top Dollar Angus, the industry leader for genetic certification of top-end Angus and Red Angus feeder cattle, bred heifers and seedstock. You can email him at jared@topdollarangus.com. 

Low-Stress Weaning Done Right

Whit Hibbard & Dawn Hnatow September 12, 2018 01:27 P

Low-stress weaning—regardless of how we do it—begins with how we gather and bring in the cattle. If we don’t do it properly, the cows and calves are in panic mode before we even have them in the corral. ( Sara Brown )

A lot of producers look forward to weaning with nothing but dread because it’s so often a bad experience for them, their cows and sometimes their facilities. Many producers can tell stories about their corrals being torn down by the cows postweaning, and not being able to sleep for three or four nights after weaning due to bawling cows and calves.

Also, weaning can be an extremely high-stress experience for calves and the short-term effect on health and performance can be significant. For example, the stress of abrupt weaning increases fatal secondary bacterial respiratory infections and average daily gains can be seriously compromised. 

handling

Conventional Weaning

The conventional belief is weaning is a difficult, traumatic experience, and the cows and calves are going to want to get back together. Therefore, we need to do it in a sturdy corral. And here’s the irony: If we believe that’s the way it’s going to be it probably will; it all starts with our mindset.

But it needn’t be that way.

handling A
Prior to weaning, pour the cattle back and forth several times to prepare them for the weaning. 

Low-stress Weaning

Weaning can be done low stress, but it takes a different mindset. The low-stress belief is that weaning is only traumatic and stressful because we make it so. If left alone, cows will wean their calves naturally and with no fuss and no postweaning sickness or weight loss. They are also more than likely happy to be rid of their 6- to 8-month-old 500-lb. to 600-lb. calves. And that’s the way it should be when we do it. The problem is, we get the animals out of a normal frame of mind and end up causing all the problems we normally experience with weaning. The cows’ concern is us, not necessarily the weaning. If the cattle are always handled well, they learn to trust their handlers and they know their calves aren’t in danger.

So, low-stress weaning—regardless of how we do it—begins with how we gather and bring in the cattle. If we don’t do it properly, the cows and their calves are unmothered and in panic mode before we even have them in the corral. But if we bring them in calmly and mothered up, the actual weaning process is rather uneventful.

Fence-line Weaning

A particular form of low-stress weaning involves weaning through a gate between two pastures. The idea is to calmly separate pairs at the gate so they never lose sight of each other or, if they do, they can quickly find each other across the fence. With this approach the emotional trauma of complete separation is mitigated.

A three-year study compared the behavior and postweaning performance of calves that were: not weaned (the control group), fence-line weaned and abruptly weaned. The fence-line-weaned calves exhibited similar behavior to the non-weaned calves and they spent more time eating than the calves that were abruptly weaned. They also gained 50% more weight during the first two weeks after weaning.

handling B
One or more handlers can keep a slow, steady stream of pairs walking to the gate. Photo: Whit Hibbard

Ingredients For Success

1. Prepare Your Cattle

In general, everything we do with our cattle that we’ve been talking about in this stockmanship series will train more manageable animals that will help in the weaning process.

Of particular importance is training your cattle to calmly walk past a handler at a gate. If you don’t do this, then fence-line weaning will likely be difficult at best.

2.  Pasture Management

You need two pastures, each with enough forage to last at least seven days.

Keep the cattle in the pasture where the calves will stay for several days prior to weaning so they get used to their new home.

handling C
On weaning day, a sorter at the gate is charged with separating cows and calves. Photo: Whit Hibbard

3. Cattle Management

Prior to weaning, pour the cattle back and forth several times to prepare them for the weaning (Figure A).

If your cattle are accustomed to walking calmly past a handler at a gate you might only have to do this exercise once. However, if they are not, you might have to repeat this several times over successive days until they understand the process.

On weaning day:

  • Gather cattle loosely near the gate.
  • The sorter opens the gate and draws the cattle to him (See photo A).
  • One or more handlers can keep a slow, steady stream of pairs walking to the gate (See Photo B).
  • The sorter makes the split at the gate (Photo C).
  • If you make a mistake (e.g., a calf gets through the gate) resist the temptation to fix it because that will unnecessarily stir everything up; rather, wait a few days postweaning and go straighten it out.

Going through these preparatory steps is important. If you don’t follow protocol, you are inviting a wreck. For instance, one rancher fence-line weaned across a page wire electric fence, and the cows tore down a couple hundred feet of the fencing because he didn’t go through these steps. If done properly, however, cattle have been weaned across a single-strand electric fence.

Postweaning

If protocol is followed, weaning should be a non-event for the cattle as illustrated in Photos D and E. Photo D was taken down the fence line (the sorting gate is in the foreground) later on weaning day. As depicted, all the cows and calves are out grazing and nothing is hanging on the fence. Photo E was taken the next day. Some cows and calves have returned to the fence but nothing is balled up on the fence, and there was no bawling. 

BeefTalk: Livestock Diversity a Good Thing

Drovers

Kris Ringwall, NDSU Extension Service

August 31, 2018 07:30 AM

The study of chemistry is based on absolutes more than variation.

The study of biology is based on variation more than absolutes.

Sometimes, what we do is absolute, but more often than not, what we do has a varied response.

That is so true in agriculture. Agricultural managers are called upon routinely to evaluate variation and sort out the good and, in some cases, actually seek more, not less, planned variation. And so today, we take a look at diversity.

Diversity is a buzzword today in agriculture: crop rotations, planting sequences, cover crops. All of these elements are part of successful management.

Grasslands, by their evolution, are historically diverse. However, the cows in the pasture have very little visual diversity, which is evidenced by cattle producers’ underutilization of additional cattle breeds or types.

Diversity throughout agriculture is a good thing. The crossing of cattle breeds or selected lines of cattle opens a new dimension, a dimension that positively responds to the freshness of increased vigor. That is good.

Just like crop producers are exploring and expanding plant diversity within grain and forage production, so should the beef producer. The livestock producer does not need to stop with simply crossbreeding cattle. I want to go one step further and expand the grassland grazers to cattle and sheep.

Yes, I said cattle and sheep. Diversity of livestock is a healthy approach to livestock production, and that goodness ultimately is expressed in better grass production through enhanced grasslands. Cattle and sheep are an obvious source of diversity within grassland grazers.

The complementary grazing of cattle and sheep is real, not just something to ponder. The Dickinson Research Extension Center determined the biological needs of sheep fit very well with cattle.

In fact, grazing ewes and cattle at the center, one ewe to every cow, complemented the cow herd very well. The cow and ewes, along with their offspring, were able to maintain normal growth without affecting the grasslands.

A very diverse plant population exposed to two types of grazers allows the opportunity for additional revenue per acre above the revenue from simply grazing with cattle. The grass did well, the livestock did well and the producer did well.

But! Yes, this scenario has “buts.” Creating diversity with alternative livestock assumes cows have the luxury of being the principal, or primary, grazing animal. The cow is not going to be replaced, but reviewing other opportunities for grazing alternative, companion livestock is a good mind-expanding process.

On a recent trip to Mongolia, I observed vast comingled herds of grazing cattle, sheep, goats, yaks, camels and horses on grasslands. Why? The thought is to better utilize the land and available forage that grows on the land.

Obviously, comingling has limits, and once that limit is met, additional grazing or stocking on the grasslands is detrimental. But finding that limit is part of the art and science of livestock production. One thing is for sure: Grazing systems that only utilize one species, such as cattle, leave additional grazing opportunities on the table.

But – yes, another “but” – comingling livestock, such as cattle and sheep, is not easy. The challenges to measuring the bottom dollar in a cattle or sheep operation are difficult to overcome. Nevertheless, let’s move forward.

At the Dickinson Research Extension Center, research suggesting one ewe can be added to the grasslands for every cow that is grazing at no expense to cattle or grasslands is ongoing. Granted, adding sheep to a cattle operation means more work and producer education; however, that does not mean the opportunity is not there.

What about the grass? What about the added dollars if dollars are tight? Currently, the center maintains a flock of White Dorper and St. Croix crossbred hair sheep to graze areas that the cattle will not.

This approach does bring challenges. Like most beef operations, the center is short of labor. Adding a more management-intensive species of livestock, such as sheep, requires considerable thought and planning. Still, the bottom line: When appropriate, adding ewes to make the sheep enterprise significant without decreasing the cow herd makes sense.

For years, the center has utilized sheep for forage management, particularly around the empty cattle pens during the summer. Although the cattle pastures have not been targeted yet, the center has several plant species that could be managed better by multispecies grazing. But first, management hurdles need to be addressed.

Sheep uniqueness also is very real, but diversity is good. The learning curve is steep but doable. But do we want to? “Yes” is the correct answer.

May you find all your ear tags.