The cattle industry has made many advances over the last few decades. Fewer cattle are producing more pounds of beef that is arguably of better quality. There are many reasons, including improved genetics, advances in pharmaceuticals, implementation of Beef Quality Assurance (BQA), improved management practices and other factors. Challenges facing the cattle industry are the same as most agriculture sectors - costs of production are increasing more rapidly than the prices for the product, market uncertainty lies ahead and the weather is unpredictable. How can a cow-calf producer minimize risks while increasing the potential of positive margins for the enterprise?
To start, develop an operational program that complements your resources and goals, incorporates the industry's best management practices, establishes mechanisms to monitor and measure the critical production and economic variables, minimizes expenses and strategically markets the product. Each of these steps must be applied consistently and be repeatable. In short, manage the operation as a business, regardless of its size or scale. There are many successful business models in the cattle industry. Many producers, however, are reluctant to adopt one for various reasons: they may think that they are not large enough, implementation is not a priority, there's not enough available time, or there is uncertainty about what to do or how to do it. Granted, larger operations have more options, but adopting a specific program also brings benefits to smaller producers.
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