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Who is your best ranch hand?

There’s still time to enter BEEF and Durango’s “Best Ranch Hands” photo contest.

Earlier this week, I spoke at the Agricultural Economic & Technology Summit in Kearney, Neb. Before presenting, I had an interesting conversation with a guy who spoke earlier in the day on transition planning.

A rancher himself, he told me how his family’s business is run like a true corporation, and despite the fact that every working partner in the operation is a brother, an in-law, a niece or nephew or a parent, each family member is treated like an employee. They have job descriptions for available employment opportunities, require previous work experience after college before gaining employment on the ranch and conduct annual performance reviews for each person.

By doing this, he said, it allowed his family business to thrive for five generations because it kept every family member accountable and allowed each person to grow professionally in their specific role in the enterprise.

READ: Breaching the generational challenge

This got me thinking about my own operation. Sometimes we joke that there are too many cooks in the kitchen. With three generations involved (four if you count my kids), you can bet there are sometimes differing opinions on the best direction of the operation. However, at the end of the day, I think what works for our family is each person has a natural role in the business that they tend to really excel at.

From the marketing to the bookwork to genetic selection to managing the health and nutrition of the cattle, every person in our operation has a job that they do well at. As a result, there are times when each individual “employee” is allowed to lead and make decisions on the ranch.

In that regard, we are all ranch hands because we are all working toward the same goal — maintaining a profitable, sustainable enterprise that can be passed down to the next generation. It takes a crew to make it work, and I’m thankful for every person in our family business who pitches in and keeps things running smoothly.

This week, we’ve been celebrating the ranch hands who help us on our ranch businesses. Durango and BEEF have teamed up to sponsor a photo contest, and so far, we’ve compiled an amazing collection of photographs that showcase the hard-working employees, kids, horses and cattle dogs who do so much for us.

VIEW the photos here.

There is still time to enter this contest. The deadline for entries (one entry per person please) is noon on July 23. To submit a photo, email me at and include your mailing address, a photo and a title for the image.

To read the complete contest details, click here.

Who are your best ranch hands? Say thanks by submitting a photo and telling us why they’re so great! Thanks for participating!

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of or Farm Progress.

TAGS: Ranching
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