Category: Time

Productivity Isn’t About Time Management. It’s About Attention Management.

“Time management” is not a solution — it’s actually part of the problem.

A few years ago during a break in a leadership class I was teaching, a manager named Michael walked up looking unsettled. His boss had told him he needed to be more productive, so he had spent a few hours analyzing how he spent his time. He had already cut his nonessential meetings. He couldn’t find any tasks to drop from his calendar. He didn’t see an obvious way to do them more efficiently.

“This is going to sound like a joke, but it’s not,” he confessed. “My only idea is to drink less water so I don’t have to go to the bathroom so many times.”

We live in a culture obsessed with personal productivity. We devour books on getting things done and dream of four-hour workweeks. We worship at the altar of hustle and boast about being busy. The key to getting things done, we’re often told, is time management. If you could just plan your schedule better, you could reach productivity nirvana.

But after two decades of studying productivity, I’ve become convinced that time management is not a solution — it’s actually part of the problem.

For most of my career, the most frequent question I’ve gotten is: “How do I get more done?” Sometimes people ask because they know I’m an organizational psychologist, and productivity is one of my areas of expertise. More often they’re asking because they’ve read in a New York Times article or a popular book that I get a lot done.

But the truth is that I don’t feel very productive. I’m constantly falling short of my daily goals for progress, so I’ve struggled to answer the question. It wasn’t until that conversation with Michael that it dawned on me: Being prolific is not about time management. There are a limited number of hours in the day, and focusing on time management just makes us more aware of how many of those hours we waste.

A better option is attention management: Prioritize the people and projects that matter, and it won’t matter how long anything takes.

Attention management is the art of focusing on getting things done for the right reasons, in the right places and at the right moments.

According to conventional wisdom about time management, you’re supposed to set goals for when you want to finish a task. I decided to try it for this article. The target was 1,200 words, so I sat down at 8 a.m. and gave myself three hours, which would allow me to write at the leisurely pace of six words per minute. I then spent the next six minutes writing a grand total of zero words, staring at a flashing cursor. The only task I completed was a Google search of whether the cursor was named in honor of all the writers who have cursed it. (Yes, I know you’re mocking me, you poor blinking excuse for a rectangle.) Then I wondered how many words I actually type per minute and took a typing test. I wasn’t happy with my score, so I took another … and another.

Eventually I got frustrated and shifted to attention management. E.B. White once wrote: “I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve (or save) the world and a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” But in my research, I’ve found that productive people don’t agonize about which desire to pursue. They go after both simultaneously, gravitating toward projects that are personally interesting and socially meaningful.

So instead of focusing on how quickly I wanted to finish this article, I asked why I agreed to write it in the first place: I might learn something new when synthesizing the research; I’d finally have somewhere to point people when they ask about productivity; and it might help some of those people. That led me to start thinking about specific people who might read this, which reminded me of Michael. Boom.

Often our productivity struggles are caused not by a lack of efficiency, but a lack of motivation. Productivity isn’t a virtue. It’s a means to an end. It’s only virtuous if the end is worthy. If productivity is your goal, you have to rely on willpower to push yourself to get a task done. If you pay attention to why you’re excited about the project and who will benefit from it, you’ll be naturally pulled into it by intrinsic motivation.

Attention management also involves noticing where you get things done. I grew up in Michigan, and when I went back there for grad school, I tried to convince a friend from the West Coast to join me.

“It’s too cold and gray,” she said after a visit during a snowstorm. She then went off to Stanford. That next Michigan winter was the coldest, grayest season I could remember, and I have never been more productive. There was nothing to do but work!

Sure enough, a series of studies led by Julia Lee (now at Michigan) show that bad weather is good for productivity because we’re less likely to be distracted by the thought of going outside. Researchers found that on days when it rained, Japanese bank employees finished transactions faster, and on days when the weather was bad in America, people were more efficient in correcting spelling errors in an essay. With that in mind, I deliberately waited to start writing this article until the day after a snowstorm, when the melting slush outside my window was not appealing.

My favorite part of attention management is the when. Most of our productivity challenges are with tasks that we don’t want to do but that we need to do. For years, I thought the way to handle those tasks was to do them right after the most interesting tasks so the energy would spill over. Then my colleague Jihae Shin and I ran a study in a Korean department store and found that when employees had a highly interesting task, they actually performed worse on their most boring tasks.

One possible reason is what’s called attention residue: Your mind keeps wandering back to the interesting task, disrupting your focus on the boring task. But in an experiment with Americans watching videos and then doing a dull data entry task, we found support for a different mechanism: contrast effects. A fascinating or funny video makes the data entry task seem even more excruciating, the same way a sweet dessert makes a sour vegetable taste yuckier. So if you’re trying to power through a boring task, do it after a moderately interesting one, and save your most exciting task as a reward for afterward. It’s not about time; it’s about timing.

I’m guessing your goal is not just to be more productive — you probably want to be creative, too.

The stumbling block is that productivity and creativity demand opposite attention management strategies. Productivity is fueled by raising attentional filters to keep unrelated or distracting thoughts out. But creativity is fueled by lowering attentional filters to let those thoughts in.

How do you get the best of both worlds? In his book “When,” Dan Pink writes about evidence that your circadian rhythm can help you figure out the right time to do your productive and creative work. If you’re a morning person, you should do your analytical work early when you’re at peak alertness; your routine tasks around lunchtime in your trough; and your creative work in the late afternoon or evening when you’re more likely to do nonlinear thinking. If you’re more of a night owl, you might be better off flipping creative projects to your fuzzy mornings and analytical tasks to your clearest-eyed late afternoon and evening moments. It’s not time management, because you might spend the same amount of time on the tasks even after you rearrange your schedule. It’s attention management: You’re noticing the order of tasks that works for you and adjusting accordingly.

Paying attention to timing management also means thinking differently about how you plan your work. I love Paul Graham’s suggestion to divide the week into “maker days” and “manager days.”

On manager days, you hold your meetings and calls. On maker days, you block out time to be productive and creative, knowing you’ll be free from distractions that would normally interrupt your flow. Unfortunately, few of us have the luxury to manage every week that way, which means we need to find ways to carve out maker moments.

 

Time management says we should eliminate distractions altogether — not just interruptions from other people, but also the times when we interrupt ourselves. If you’re getting sucked into social media, you’d need to stop cold turkey. Attention management offers an alternative: Be thoughtful about the timing of those distractions.

When I was in middle school, I lost a whole Saturday to watching TV and I felt pretty disgusted with myself afterward. But I didn’t give up TV. I made a rule: I would only turn on the TV if I already knew what I wanted to watch. I’ve adopted the same policy on social media: In times when I could be working, I only log in to share content. I save scrolling for windows when I couldn’t be getting anything done, like waiting for a flight to take off or cooling down after exercise.

Most of the writers I know wait for maker days to start writing, believing they need at least four or six hours to dig into a big idea or a complex problem. But there’s evidence that binge writers actually get less done than people who write in shorter bursts. You can make meaningful progress in surprisingly small intervals: When graduate students were trained to write in 15-minute intervals, they finished their dissertations faster.

If you’re trying to be more productive, don’t analyze how you spend your time. Pay attention to what consumes your attention. I’ve just looked at the clock for the first time since I thought of the story about Michael. It’s 10:36 a.m., and I’ve gone about 500 words over my target. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether the past 156 minutes were a good use of my attention — and whether the past few minutes of reading this were a good use of yours.

Which brings me to one more thought: I’m pretty sure there’s an eighth habit of highly effective people. They don’t spend all their time reading about the seven habits of highly effective people.

Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at Wharton, is the author of “Originals.” For more on building your career and connections, listen to WorkLife with Adam Grant, a TED original podcast on the science of making work not suck. You can find WorkLife on Apple Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform.

A Great Dream – By Kit Pharo

In response to last week’s PCC Update, a subscriber in Illinois sent me the following quote.   As you know, I like to share favorite quotes in our PCC Updates and Quarterly Newsletters.   This quote really packs a punch!

“A great dream is not as good as a great memory.   The dream can be had by anyone.   The memory – must be made.”    ~ Eric Thomas

This quote speaks for itself and does not require commentary.   Nevertheless, I feel compelled to comment.   In my lifetime, I have met many, many people who had GREAT dreams.   Unfortunately, very few of those people made their dreams come true.   Most never did get off the starting line.   They always came up with excuses to put off the most important things in their life.   As I think back, I find this to be very sad.

I want to challenge you to get off the starting line and do what it takes to make some of your dreams come true.   Turn those great dreams into great memories.   Do you have some personal dreams or family dreams?   I hear people all the time talking about the things they have on their Bucket List.   Most of those people, however, never get beyond talking about their dreams.   Before you know it, they no longer have the ability or the desire to do the things on their Bucket List.   Consequently, they did not create any great memories.

Do you have some business dreams?   Would you like to make your business substantially more profitable, enjoyable and sustainable?   Would you like to create a business the next generation is excited to become a part of?   As Walt Disney once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”   Please remember, though, the present is different from the past and the future will be different from the present.   Creating a bigger and/or better business will involve CHANGE.   There is no getting around that fact.   While everyone else is afraid of change, we should be embracing it!

Quote Worth Re-Quoting –

“A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.”   ~ John Barrymore

Quote Worth Re-Quoting –

“Success is simply a matter of luck.   Ask any failure.”   ~ Earl Wilson

Resistance to Change –

By Kit Pharo

People hate change!   Nowhere is this more prevalent than in agriculture.   It seems to take years for people in agriculture to make simple changes – even though they know the change will be for their own good.   I must confess that I too am reluctant to change.   I may not hate change as much as most people, but it still makes me uncomfortable.

I read a neat little Seth Godin book entitled Tribes.   In this book, Seth spends a considerable amount of time discussing the status quo and its fear of change.   He believes change is inevitable.   I don’t think anyone can argue with that.   Change is a normal and necessary part of life – and the sooner we embrace it, the better off we will be.

Seth says, “Change almost never fails because it was too early.   It almost always fails because it was too late.   By the time you realize your corner of the world is ready for change, it’s almost certainly too late.   It’s definitely not too early.”   Mr. Godin goes on to say, “There may be a small price to pay for being too early, but there will be a huge penalty for being too late.”

We use the term Herd Quitter to refer to people who have enough courage to break away from the status quo, herd-mentality way of thinking.   It is more about thinking for yourself than anything else.   Following the crowd (herd) and doing what everyone else is doing is never the best way to manage a business.   Dare to be a Herd Quitter.   Dare to enter the New Frontier in beef production.   Dare to make the necessary changes in your operation while you still have a choice in the matter.   The sooner, the better!

Quote Worth Re-Quoting –

“Change before you have to.”   ~ Jack Welch

30 Behaviors That Will Make You Unstoppable

A lot of people are good at what they do. Some are even elite. A select few are completely unstoppable.

Those who are unstoppable are in their own world. They don’t compete with anyone but themselves. You never know what they will do — only that you will be forced to respond. Even though they don’t compete with you, they make you compete with them.

Are you unstoppable? By the end of this blog you will be.

Let’s get started:

1. Don’t think — know and act.

“Don’t think. You already know what you have to do, and you know how to do it. What’s stopping you?” — Tim Grover

Rather than analyzing and thinking, act. Attuned to your senses, and with complete trust in yourself, do what you instinctively feel you should. As Oprah has said, “Every right decision I have ever made has come from my gut. Every wrong decision I’ve made was the result of me not listening to the greater voice of myself.”

The moment you start thinking, you’ve already lost. Thinking swiftly pulls you out of the zone.

2. Always be prepared so you have the freedom to act on instinct.

“Just as the yin-yang symbol possesses a kernel of light in the dark, and of dark in the light, creative leaps are grounded in a technical foundation.” — Josh Waitzkin

Become a master of your craft. While everyone else is relaxing, you’re practicing and perfecting. Learn the left-brained rules in and out so your right brain can have limitless freedom to break the rules and create.

With enhanced consciousness, time will slow down for you. You’ll see things in several more frames than others. While they’re trying to react to the situation, you’ll be able to manipulate and tweak the situation to your liking.

3. Don’t forget your WHY on the path of success.

While pursuing big dreams, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day weeds. If you don’t continually remind yourself WHY you’re doing this, and WHY it’s important to you and other people, then you’ll get lost.

Additionally, as you become successful, don’t forget WHY you’re really doing this. Having nice things is, well, nice. But for you, it’s never been about the money, prestige or anything else outside of you. Take these things away and nothing changes for you. You’re still going to be pushing your personal limits and giving it your all. Give these things to you and they won’t destroy you like they do most people.

4. Never be satisfied.

“The way to enjoy life best is to wrap up one goal and start right on the next one. Don’t linger too long at the table of success, the only way to enjoy another meal is to get hungry.” — Jim Rohn

Even after you achieve a goal, you’re not content. For you, it’s not even about the goal. It’s about the climb to see how far you can push yourself.

Does this make you ungrateful? Absolutely not. You’re entirely humbled and grateful for everything in your life. Which is why you will never get complacent or lazy.

5. Always be in control.

“Addictions embody repetition without progress. They produce incapacity as a payoff.” — Steven Pressfield

Unlike most people, who are dependent on substances or other external factors, you are in control of what you put in your body, how you spend your time and how long you stay in the zone.

Act based on instinct, not impulse. Just because you could doesn’t mean you do. And when you do, it’s because you want to, not because you have to.

6. Be true to yourself.

Although 70 percent of US employees hate their jobs and only one in threeAmericans report being happy, relentless and unstoppable people purge everything from their life they hate.

Have the self-respect and confidence to live life on your terms. When something isn’t right in your life, change it. Immediately.

7. Never let off the pressure.

“Pressure can bust pipes, but it also can make diamonds.” — Robert Horry

Most people can handle pressure in small doses. But when left to their own devices, they let off the pressure and relax.

Not you. You never take the pressure off yourself. Instead, you continuously turn-up the pressure. It’s what keeps you alert and active.

8. Don’t be afraid of the consequences of failure.

“The idea of trying and still failing — of leaving yourself without excuses — is the worst fear within the fixed mindset.” — Dr. Carol Dweck

Most people stay close to the ground, where it’s safe. If they fall, it won’t hurt that bad. But when you choose to fly high, the fall may kill you. And you’re OK with that. To you, there is no ceiling and there is no floor. It’s all in your head. If something goes wrong — if you “fail” — you adjust and keep going.

9. Don’t compete with others. Make them compete with you.

Most people are competing with other people. They continuously check-in to see what others in their space (their “competition”) are doing. As a result, they mimic and copy what’s “working.”

Conversely, you’ve left all competition behind. Competing with others makes absolutely zero sense to you. It pulls you from your authentic zone. So you zone out all the external noise and instead zone into your internal pressure to produce.

10. Never stop learning.

“Anyone who isn’t embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn’t learning enough.” — Alain de Botton

Ordinary people seek entertainment. Extraordinary people seek education and learning. If you’re pursuing a bigger future, then you’ll be failing a lot. If you’re failing a lot, then you’re learning and transforming and reshaping your brain.

When you look back every 90 days at your progress — by measuring THE GAIN rather than THE GAP — you’ll be stunned at all you’ve learned and accomplished. You’ll look back and be blown away by where you were and who you were. And how far you’ve come. This will bolster your confidence to continue stretching forward with greater imaginative leaps.

11. Success isn’t enough — it only increases the pressure.

“I firmly believe you never should spend your time being the former anything.” — Condoleezza Rice

For most people, becoming “successful” is enough. At some point or another, they stop focusing on the future and become content with a particular “status” they’ve acquired. The status, it turns out, was what they were really after.

However, when you’re relentlesssuccess only increases the pressure to do more. Immediately following the achievement of a goal, you’re focused on your next challenge. Rather than a status, you’re interested in continuous growth, which always requires you to detach from your prior status and identity.

12. Don’t get crushed by success.

“Success can become a catalyst for failure.” — Greg McKeown

Most people can’t handle success, authority or privilege. It destroys them. It makes them lazy. When they get what they want, they stop doing the very things that got them there. The external noise becomes too intense.

But for you, no external noise can push harder than your own internal pressure. It’s not about this achievement, but the one after, and the one after that. There is no destination. Only when you’re finished.

13. Completely own it when you screw up.

“Implementing extreme ownership requires checking your ego and operating with a high degree of humility. Admitting mistakes, taking ownership anddeveloping a plan to overcome challenges are integral to any successful team.”―Jocko Willink

No blame. No deception or illusion. Just the cold hard truth. When you mess up, you own it. And as the leader, you own it when your team fails. Only with extreme ownership can you have complete freedom and control.

14. Let your work speak for itself.

“Well done, is well said.” — Anthony Liccione

Cal Newport’s recent book, Deep Work, distinguishes “deep work” from “shallow work.” Here’s the difference:

Deep work is:

  • Rare
  • High value
  • And non-replicable (i.e., not easy to copy/outsource)

Shallow work is:

  • Common
  • Low value
  • Replicable (i.e., anyone can do it)

Talking is shallow. Anyone can do it. It’s easily replicated. It’s low value. Conversely, deep work is rare. It’s done by people who are focused and working while everyone else is talking. Deep work is so good it can’t be ignored. It doesn’t need words. It speaks for itself.

15. Always work on your mental strength.

“Mental resilience is arguably the most critical trait of a world-class performer, and it should be nurtured continuously. Left to my own devices, I am always looking for ways to become more and more psychologically impregnable. When uncomfortable, my instinct is not to avoid the discomfort but to become at peace with it. My instinct is always to seek out challenges as opposed to avoiding them.” — Josh Waitzkin

The better you can be under pressure, the further you’ll go than anyone else. Because they’ll crumble under pressure.

The best training you will ever do is mental training. Wherever your mind goes, your body follows. Wherever your thoughts go, your life follows.

16. Confidence is your greatest asset.

A recent meta-analysis shows that most people misunderstand confidence. Confidence doesn’t lead to high performance. Rather, confidence is a by-product of previous performance.

Confidence and imagination go hand-in-hand. The more confidence you have, based on small/large wins from your past, the more imaginative you can be with your future.

Hence, your confidence determines:

  • The size of challenges/goals you undertake (imagination)
  • How likely you will achieve those goals (commitment)
  • How well you bounce back from failures (flexibility)

17. Surround yourself with people who remind you of the future, not the past.

When you surround yourself with people who remind you of your past, you’ll have a hard time progressing. This is why we get stuck in certain roles, which we can’t break free from (e.g., the fat kid or shy girl).

Surrounding yourself with people who you want to be like allows you a fresh slate. You’re no longer defined by your past, only the future you are creating.

18. Let things go, learn your lessons.

“You can have a great deal of experience and be no smarter for all the things you’ve done, seen, and heard. Experience alone is no guarantee of lifetime growth. But if you regularly transform your experiences into new lessons, you will make each day of your life a source of growth. The smartest people are those who can transform even the smallest events or situations into breakthroughs in thinking and action.” — Dan Sullivan and Catherine Nomura

Being unstoppable requires carrying no unnecessary mental or emotional baggage. Consequently, you’ll need to immediately and completely forgive anyone who has wronged you. However, forgiveness doesn’t mean you forget. Instead, it means you integrate your new experiences into your daily approach so that you learn from your experiences and don’t repeat them.

19. Have clear goals.

“While a fixation on results is certainly unhealthy, short-term goals can be useful developmental tools if they are balanced within a nurturing long-term philosophy.” — Josh Waitzkin

According to loads of psychology research, the most motivating goals are clearly defined and time-bound.

Your goals can either be focused on your process/behaviors (e.g., I’m going to exercise 5 days per week) or on the outcomes you’re seeking (e.g., I’m going to have 10 percent body fat by October 2019).

For most people, behaviorally-focused goals are the better and more motivating option. But when you crave the results so much that the work is irrelevant, your aim should be directed straight at the outcomes you want.

Without question, the human brain appreciates tangible things to focus on. Numbers and events, according to Dan Sullivan, are candy for the brain. I agree. Goals framed as numbers and events are more powerful.

Numbers can be both process-oriented and results-oriented:

  • I will workout 60 minutes 4 times per week (and at least 150 times per year)
  • I will be able to run 10 miles in under 90 minutes by October 2019

The first bullet above is process-oriented, the second bullet is results-oriented.

You can actually turn the second bullet above into a tangible event, which can create anticipation and excitement.

  • By October 2019, I will have run 10 miles in under 90 minutes on the beach and afterward, eat at my favorite restaurant

Events can cause transformational experiences that upgrade your subconscious mindset. Events can be immersive and deeply memorable — and by creating deep memories, you shutter your former belief system.

As an example, my wife and I are currently trying to improve our marriage and connection. We are attending therapy and setting goals.

One of the EVENTS I want to create an experience with Lauren this year is to fly to Chicago and eat dinner at Alinea, a famous restaurant in Chicago we’ve both been wanting to go to. Given that we now have five kids and are super busy, it would be very easy to push that desired experience off.

But when you’re truly living your life, you don’t push stuff like that off. In other words, you don’t build your dreams around your life. Your build your life around your dreams. You don’t hesitate.

So, we’ll schedule it, buy our plane tickets, and then figure out how to make it real. If you don’t initiate action first, then you’ll always be left waiting for the perfect moment. It’s best to put yourself in a position where you must act. In my book, Willpower Doesn’t Work, I called these types of initiations that compel forward progress, “forcing functions.”

20. Respond immediately, rather than analyzing or stalling.

“He who hesitates is lost.” — Cato

The anticipation of an event is always more extreme than the event itself — both for positive and negative events.

Just do it. Train yourself to respond immediately when you feel you should do something. Stop questioning yourself. Don’t analyze it. Don’t question if it came from God or from yourself. Just act.

You’ll figure out what to do after you’ve taken action. Until you take action, it will all be hypothetical. But once you act, it becomes practical.

21. Choose simplicity over complication.

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” — Albert Einstein

It’s easy to be complicated. Most of the research and jargon in academia and business is over-complicated.

Cutting to the core and hitting the truth is hard because it’s simple. As Leonardo da Vinci has said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Very few people will give you the truth. When you ask them a question, it gets mighty complicated. “There are so many variables” or “It depends,” they say.

T. S. Eliot said it best, “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”

Wisdom is timeless and simple. Learn wisdom and choose it.

22. Never be jealous or envious of someone else’s accomplishments.

Being unstoppable means you genuinely want what’s best for everyone — even those you would consider your competitors. Jealousy and envy are the ego — which operates out of fear.

The reason you are happy for other people’s success is because their success has nothing to do with you.

You are in control of you. And you are different from every other person. There is no one who can do exactly what you can do. You have your own superpower with your own unique ability to contribute. And that’s what you’re going to do.

23. Take the shot every time.

“If I fail more than you, I win.” — Seth Godin

You miss every shot you don’t take. And most people don’t want to take the shot. Fear of failure paralyzes them.

The only way you can become unstoppable is if you stop thinking about it. Just take the shot. Don’t do it only when it’s convenient or when you feel ready. Just go and make whatever adjustments you need after the fact.

Here’s what’s crazy — you don’t actually know which shots will go in. I’ve found this over and over. By being consistent, for example, at posting blogs, I’ve been shocked at which ones have gone viral. Almost always, it’s not the one you’d expect. But it would never happen if I wasn’t just taking shots.

Are you taking shots every day?

Are you trying stuff that could potentially fail?

At some point or another, life does kind of just become a numbers game. You have to be great at what you do. But you also have to stack the odds in your favor.

24. Seek results, but don’t get caught up in them. This will keep you stuck living in the past.

“Knowledge comes from the past, so it’s safe. It is also out of date. It’s the opposite of originality. Experience is built from solutions to old situations and problems.This is lazy. Experience is the opposite of being creative. If you can prove you’re right you’re set in concrete. You cannot move with the times or with other people.Your mind is closed. You are not open to new ideas.” — Paul Arden

When you start doing noteworthy stuff, there are benefits that can become distractions. It can get easy to “ride the wave” of your previous work. Keep practicing. Perfect your craft. Never forget what got you here. Results are based in the past. Don’t get stuck in a “status.”

25. Think and act 10X.

“When 10X is your measuring stick, you immediately see how you can bypass what everyone else is doing.” — Dan Sullivan

Most people — even those you deem to be “world class” — are not operating at 10X. In truth, you could surpass anyone if you radically stretch your thinking and belief system.

Going 10X changes everything. As Dan Sullivan has said, “10X thinking automatically takes you ‘outside the box’ of your present obstacles and limitations.” It pulls you out of the problems most people are dealing with and opens you to an entirely new field of possibilities.

When you take your goal of earning $100,000 this year and change it to $1,000,000, you’re forced to operate at a different level. The logical and traditional approach doesn’t work with 10X. As Shane Snow, author ofSmartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success, has said, “10x progress is built on bravery and creativity instead. Working smarter.”

The question is: Are you willing to go there? Not just entertain the thought for a second or two and then revert back to common thinking. No. Are you willing to sit with 10X thinking? Are you willing to question your own thought processes and open yourself to believing an entirely different set of possibilities?

Could you convince yourself to believe in your 10X potential? Are you willing to undertake goals that seem lunacy, to you and everyone else? Are you willing to take the mental leap, trusting “the universe will conspire to make it happen”?

26. Set goals that far exceed your current capabilities.

“You need to aim beyond what you are capable of. You need to develop a complete disregard for where your abilities end. If you think you’re unable to work for the best company in its sphere, make that your aim. If you think you’re unable to be on the cover of TIME magazine, make it your business to be there. Make your vision of where you want to be a reality. Nothing is impossible.” — Paul Arden

If your goals are logical, they won’t force you to create luck. Being unstoppable means your goals challenge you to be someone more than you currently are. As Jim Rohn has said, “Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better.”

27. Make time for recovery and rejuvenation.

“Wherever you are, make sure you’re there.” — Dan Sullivan

When you focus on results, rather than being busy, you’re 100 percent on when you’re working and 100 percent off when you’re not. This not only allows you to be present in the moment, but it allows you the needed time to rest and recover.

Your ability to work at a high level is like fitness. If you never take a break between sets, you won’t be able to build strength, stamina, and endurance. However, not all “rest” produces recovery. Certain things are more soothing than others.

Recovering from my work generally consists of writing in my journal, listening to music, spending time with my wife and kids, preparing and eating delicious food, or serving other people. These things rejuvenate me. They make my work possible, but also meaningful.

28. Start before you’re ready.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” — Chinese Proverb

Most people wait. They believe they can start after they have enough time, money, connections and credentials. They wait until they feel “secure.” Not people who are unstoppable.

Unstoppable people started last year. They started five years ago before they even knew what they were doing. They started before they had any money. They started before they had all the answers. They started when no one else believed in them. The only permission they needed was the voice inside them prompting them to move forward. And they moved.

29. If you need permission, you probably shouldn’t do it.

A mentor of mine is a highly successful real estate investor. Throughout his career, he’s had hundreds of people ask him if they should “go into real-estate.”

He tells every one of them the same thing: that they shouldn’t do it. In fact, he actually tries talking most of them out of it. And in most cases, he succeeds.

Why would he do that? “Those who are going to succeed will do so regardless of what I say,” he told me.

I know so many people who chase whatever worked for other people. They never truly decide what they want to do, and end up jumping from one thing to the next — trying to strike quick gold. And repetitively, they stop digging just a few feet from the gold after resigning the spot is barren.

No one will ever give you permission to live your dreams.

30. Don’t make exceptions.

Zig Ziglar used to tell a story of traveling one day and not getting in bed until 4 a.m. An hour and a half later (5:30), his alarm went off. He said, “Every fiber of my being was telling me to stay in bed.” But he had made a commitment, so he got up anyway. Admittedly, he had a horrible day and wasn’t productive at all.

Yet, he says that decision changed his life. As he explains:

“Had I bowed to my human, physical, emotional and mental desire to sleep in, I would have made that exception. A week later, I might have made an exception if I only got four hours of sleep. A week later, maybe I only got seven hours of sleep.The exception so many times becomes the rule. Had I slept in, I would’ve faced that danger. Watch those exceptions!”

Hence, Zig was unstoppable.

Conclusion

When you’re unstoppable, you will make sure to get what you want. Everything you need to know is already within you. All you need to do is trust yourself and act.

Are you unstoppable?

Feeding Hay to Improve Your Land – Part 1

By   /  February 25, 2019  /

We think it is far more important to stop making hay on your land than it is to stop feeding hay on your land. Here are some things to think about.

What Made Sense in 1973 Doesn’t Make Sense Today

Making hay is a whole lot more expensive than it used to be. This table compares input costs for making hay in 1973 in contrast to 2013.

 

All of the input costs have increased at a much faster rate than the value of beef cattle, lamb, or milk. To be on par with costs experienced in 1973, fed cattle should have been $284/cwt, not the $148 they were.

Hay = Inexpensive Fertility

While making hay is expensive, in much of the US, hay can be bought for less than the cost of production. When you buy someone else’s hay and feed it on your property, you are buying their fertility at a highly discounted rate. In some years in some locations, you can buy beef cattle hay for less than the fertilizer value it contains.

This is a great opportunity for improving your land in a way that also benefits soil health.

Feeding Uniformly is the Key

The key to soil improvement is to get the hay fed uniformly over your pastures. This is how you can realize the greatest benefit from purchased hay as a planned fertility input.

Large round bales are still the norm in much of US cow country. Round bales can be unrolled with relatively low-cost equipment. Bales don’t unroll uniformly all the time, but the subsequent manure distribution is way better than feeding bales in ring feeders.

Big square bales can be flaked off easily in a systematic way to cover a specific area with each bale fed.

Bale processors are expensive pieces of equipment. If you are invested in something like this, make sure you are feeding all of your hay to optimize the distribution of manure across the pasture.

We need to be thinking about how much nitrogen and phosphorus is in each bale we are feeding so we can plan our daily feeding to apply appropriate levels of nutrients rather than feeding too little and not realizing the benefit we expected or feeding too much and overloading the soil and environment with excess N. We’ll look at that next week!

Stay tuned! Jim will be covering all the data and math in this series to help us figure out how to do the best we can at improving pastures with hay feeding. If you have questions for Jim, do share them in the comments section below!

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.

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

9 Steps To Getting More Family Harmony

9 Steps To Getting More Family Harmony on the Farm
By Elaine Froese

The coaching theme lately has been older brothers and young brothers (a good bit younger) trying to figure out how to farm together. It is a bit of trick since the older brother typically has a bit more equity because he has been on the farm for a decade or more.

The dilemma of how to give each sibling what they need as a successor sometimes breaks a mother’s heart. She loves all of her children, as does Dad, and she is trying to figure out the way ahead so that the family will be in harmony, and the farm will have a strong team.

What can be done to increase family harmony?

It could be adult children who show up as loving adults, responsible, respectful and ready to create solutions. It is the farming successors who show that family relationships are the core value to be protected, and the farm is a business, not a monster to be fed.

9 Suggestions for All Members to Create Family Harmony on the Farm

1. COME TO THE TABLE

Be willing to discuss ideas and options. What is your big picture vision of farming with your parents and your siblings?

The accountant can give you some creative share structure options, partnership and operating agreements once you are clear about what each sibling needs.  Share your “why” or intent for the things you are asking for.

2. INVOLVE THE DAUGHTER-IN-LAWS

Readers have been asking for an article on daughter-in-laws who farm. I am her. I am a farm partner who supports the farm team. Some daughters-in-law are more active agronomists, livestock keepers, and bookkeepers. Everyone’s role can look different, but all are important.  In my books, the farmer’s spouse can be a daughter-in-law or a son-in-law. The daughter-in-law needs to understand what kind of debt is going to be serviced and be clear that she is willing to help bring in cash or income for family living. If she is a homemaker, that is fine, but the farm will have to cash flow more revenue for debt-servicing. Is this viable?

3. KNOW YOUR FAMILY LIVING COSTS

You need to eat and be clothed. Parents cannot be expected to give you a free ride with free house rent or utilities forever. Once you cover your basic living costs, what do you have left for servicing debt or buying assets? You need disposable cash to grow.

4. REALIZE THAT YOU WILL ALWAYS BE THE OLDEST, MIDDLE OR YOUNGEST CHILD

You cannot change your birth order or become older to “catch up” to your older farming sibling. You can grow up, be mature, and make responsible choices with your time, resources, and energy.  I know a young rancher who worked hard with neighbors to make hay arrangements for his growing cattle herd, and he also bartered his labor to get ahead. He was not using his youth as an excuse to just coast.

5. VISIT YOUR LENDER AND FIND OUT WHAT YOU ARE GOOD FOR REGARDING LOANS

Do you know your net worth? How much money could you come up with quickly to leverage some debt for an awesome opportunity to gain assets to farm? You might not be able to afford land, but can you access some rented land and pay for inputs?  Your mom would like you to be independent with your living (laundry, meals, etc. ) and ready to be independent financially.

6. BE PATIENT

It took your parents 40 years to get where they are today. It is 2016, and farming has big dollars attached to the adventure. Be open to learning more about financial transparency. Negotiate what you are willing to commit to and for how long. If your parents are going to roll over or gift assets, they want to know that their wealth will be protected. They also want your marriage to be strong and enduring.  Set some reasonable timelines and dates on paper so that everyone can digest what a workable timeline is for everyone to get closer to their farming goals.

7. REMEMBER TO BOOK TIME FOR FUN

Strong families celebrate. I wish you could see the tears in Mom’s eyes (and Dad’s) at the end of a family meeting when she tells her adult farming children that she is proud of them and loves them dearly. Appreciation and encouraging the heart of your farm business is done with words of affirmation, gifts, and time spent together with gratitude. Don’t kid yourself that all the stuff you collect in your house is important; life is not about things. Write your folks some nice words in a card this year.

8. DECIDE EVERY DAY HOW YOU ARE GOING TO INTENTIONALLY ADD TO YOUR FARM FAMILY’S EMOTIONAL BANK ACCOUNT

When siblings farm together, especially at different stages of the family life cycle, they need to recognize that they will always be in different phases of that cycle. Parents are not responsible for making all of their children economically equal, yet their heartstrings are pulled to want to help each child achieve success. Farm owners may want to help the younger siblings, just as they have helped the older farm and non-farm siblings in their own way. This is not an easy dance. The founders need to take care of their own income streams for the next 30 years and protect their wealth as they make the transition of ownership gradually. It also helps if there is a “personal wealth bubble,” as Merle Good says, to help draw non-farm cash for living needs as we age.

9. YOUR MOM WILL ALWAYS BE YOUR MOM

Someday mom and dad may also be your business partner. This is where role confusion really mucks people up. They cannot switch “hats” as they relate to each other in the different roles they play. Practice saying, “As your child, I feel valued and respected as a member of this family, and as your future business partner I am looking forward to creating solutions to make a great future for my own family .”