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Articles from 2015 In December


What stops salespeople from moving forward?

No matter what we sell, there are times when the brakes are on. Something is holding us back, keeping us from moving forward.

Then, we feel even worse when hearing about someone who gets ahead by overcoming unspeakable adversity. “You can do it. Just change your thinking.” It sounds easy and most of us have tried it dozens of times. And it works —for about five minutes.

As most salespeople know, moving forward is tough, but changing our behavior can help knock down obstacles. Here are eight ideas to get the wheels moving in the right direction:

1. Get over easy. Next to free, easy has earned a permanent place in the operation of every business — when placing orders, answering inquiries, handling complaints, simplifying procedures, and cutting out what’s complicated.

But easy can also be an enemy.

Instead of taking time to cultivate and engage prospects, just grab the phone and make phone calls — that go nowhere. That’s easy. “I’ll take care of it tomorrow,” we say. That’s easy, too. So is ignoring details and deadlines. Ignoring promises is easy. Not getting back to people quickly is easy, too. Taking it easy has its reward; it leads to a dead end.

2. Turn off the autopilot. Perhaps the biggest temptation in business is to get to the point where we know the routines, the expectations, the nuances, and the people so that we don’t need to think.

As one 40 year-old male said, “I know my job.” You can call this getting through the day on autopilot — avoiding change, ignoring challenges, and never putting ourselves to the test. We’re efficient, predictable, and we do our job. And without even knowing it, we paint a clear picture of ourselves for everyone to see — one that stops us from moving forward.

3. Develop doubt. Sales gurus say it takes a strong dose of self-confidence to succeed in sales. While self-assurance is necessary, it may also send a message to customers that a salesperson is arrogant.

What’s needed is a balance so we can clearly understand what’s going on with customers. Doubt does that by keeping us sharp, alert, and always on our toes. How many times do we say, “I should really have picked up on that issue,” or “I wish I thought of that,” or “What could I have done to improve the proposal?” That takes digging down and asking questions. It takes doubt.

4. Avoid self-inflation. In a word, overestimating our competence is both common and dangerous. It’s so easy to push aside or ignore anything that makes us uncomfortable about ourselves.

That’s why we are shocked when passed over for an expected promotion, upset when we thought we aced the interview, or find it hard to believe the participants gave us a low rating on yesterday’s presentation, the one we were sure went great. Although “enhancing” a resume may seem dishonest, many of those who do it believe they were telling the truth.

In fact, most of us have a hard time seeing ourselves as we are, which may be close to impossible. That’s why getting an objective opinion is critical in becoming the people and workers we want to be.

5. Stop winging it. Bluntly, when we didn’t take the time to prepare and are winging it. And it’s what they remember about us. Simply put, winging it is dangerous to one’s career health.

Instead of winging it, it’s much better to be a winner. Even if there’s only a few minutes to write a memo, an important email, or plan a presentation, it can be done. There’s no need to get nervous and anxious and make a mess of it. To be prepared and never need to apologize, put this formula on your smartphone so it’s always nearby:

  • Main Idea: “Lowering prices will backfire on us”
  • Supporting Ideas:
  • “We can’t raise our prices later.”
  • “Competitors will say we’re in trouble and use it against us.”
  • “We will lose credibility with our customers.”
  • Action Idea: “Rather than lower prices, we can: 1) Enhance our guarantees; 2) Provide an app that simplifies ordering; and 3) Post a video with customers describing how we have reduced costs and improved reliability.

Your message will be clear and you won’t stumble or ramble. Plus, you’ll get rave reviews.

6. Never say no. When opportunities come up or you see the possibility of taking on a project or responsibility, never say no. Most of us would like to say yes, but venturing into the new and unknown holds us back. “I’d like to but I’m too busy right now,” we say.

So much for excuses. If you want to move ahead, put yourself on the line and say yes. Then, come up with a plan and figure out how to do it. You’re not alone; there’s always help.

7. Ditch the dated. No question about it, experience has value. It helps in spotting problems, seeing possibilities others miss, and avoids making “beginner’s mistakes.”

Even so, there’s another side to experience. We can give it too much weight. When we do, our skillets and knowledge base fall behind. That’s when we convince ourselves that our experience makes up for it.

It doesn’t work. Change is so swift, it’s easy to become “dated.” To stay current takes a consistent effort. Moving forward takes a combination of both experience and present knowledge.
 
8. Listen closely. Jeff Short is a listener. And it’s one reason why he’s the successful VP of Sales at K&W Tire, a wholesaler, based in Lancaster, PA. He wants to know what his sales team says about the competition.

But Jeff doesn’t just listen — he listens for patterns. “You nibble a big enough piece of somebody else's pie and you have to be ready when they come back after you,” he says. “Sometimes ‘price’ is a big factor but many times it's way down the list. Lots of little buying signals jump out at me...years of listening closely.”

In sales, there’s nothing as valuable as gathering and putting together pieces of intel, making the connections, and discovering the patterns.

While a positive mental attitude is always good, it takes something more to propel salespeople forward. It takes the right actions.

John Graham of GrahamComm is a marketing and sales strategist-consultant and business writer. He publishes a free monthly eBulletin, “No Nonsense Marketing & Sales Ideas.” Contact him at [email protected], 617-774-9759 or johnrgraham.com

Goodbye 2015; hello 2016! PLUS: Cowboy Christmas winners

Goodbye 2015; hello 2016! PLUS: Cowboy Christmas winners

When the clock strikes midnight this evening, we’ll say goodbye to 2015 and hello to 2016. You might have noticed that today’s BEEF Daily newsletter was rich with content recapping the year and the best stories, photo galleries and most-read blogs of 2015.

2015 was certainly an interesting year, and BEEF helped capture the moments that were most important to our cattle industry readers. We covered hot topics like COOL and WTO. We kept you updated on the market outlook and consumer trends. We offered new ideas to increase profitability, better manage your cow herd, and create a lasting legacy that will carry through to the younger generations. Plus, we captured it all in beautiful photographs submitted by readers through contests sponsored by Greeley Hat Works.

As we say goodbye to 2015, we also need to wrap up our final photography contest. We received 70-plus images from readers and narrowed the entries down to 15 finalists. From there, you helped us select our champions by voting daily. We’ve tallied up the votes, and congratulations goes to our champions including:

Grand Champion: Carol Greet with “Wyoming Santa”

Photo Credit: Carol Greet

Reserve Champion: Gwen Shepperson with “Pride and Joy” 


Photo Credit: Gwen Shepperson

Both Greet and Shepperson will receive a $300 voucher for a custom Greeley Hat Works hat. Plus, as promised, we randomly chose three voters to receive a western photography coffee table book. Our lucky winners are Dave Lewis, Jan Chaney and Kelsey Keith. Thanks to everyone who participated, and I hope your New Year celebrations are safe and joyous. Cheers to 2016!

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Penton Agriculture.

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2016 BEEF Seedstock 100 now online

2016 BEEF Seedstock 100 now online

As cow-calf producers look for the next round of genetics to take their cowherd and calf crop to the next level, finding the right seedstock supplier becomes ever more important.

That’s where the BEEF Seedstock 100 list can help out. The 2016 list of the top seedstock suppliers in the country, based on number of bulls sold, is now live at beefmagazine.com. 

Arguably, most of the proverbial low-hanging fruit of management was picked long ago, or at least had the chance to be plucked. That means genetics and relationships continue to offer the most untapped opportunity to maximize calf value.

And maximizing calf value revolves around managing cattle production and marketing, along with genetics and relationships.

Talk to just about anybody listed in the 2016 BEEF Seedstock 100, sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, and that’s what you’ll hear, in some form or another. And that’s why the BEEF Seedstock 100 list is your go-to source to find both the genetics and the seedstock suppliers you can build a long-term relationship with.

seedstock 100

BEEF Seedstock 100 List
Looking for a new seedstock provider? Use our UPDATED Seedstock 100 listing to find the largest bull sellers in the U.S. Browse the list here.

 

Tom Brink, founder of Top Dollar Angus, also recently named CEO of the Red Angus Association of America, explained to BEEF a couple of years ago, “I estimate 10-15% of the cattle purchased by commercial feedlots are what I call relationship cattle, cattle where the feedlot and producer know one another, where the feedlot knows about the producer’s cowherd and how his calves perform in the feedlot historically.”

That meant lots of cattle had the chance to be worth more if buyers knew what they were and how they performed. Of course, there’s plenty of reason to hide and guard against transparency if the product is subpar, or perhaps worse, if the seller is unsure how exactly the product performs.

In other words, the only reason the relationship can help is if the cattle are worth more money than average.

That leaves genetics.

Given the massive contribution to the genetic composition of cowherds, that means genetics delivered via bulls.

As Kris Ringwall, North Dakota State University Extension livestock specialist, explains, “For the average calf, the sire and the maternal grandsire are projected to have contributed three-fourths of the calf’s genes. Although somewhat challenging to do all the math, on average, if one goes back an additional generation, 87.5% of the genes within the calf crop are potentially accounted for by the last three sets of bulls that the producer bought.”

With all of that in mind, Donnell Brown of R.A. Brown Ranch at Throckmorton, Texas, points out, “We’re finally to the point where added value from genetic merit is more than perception. I think we’ll see more feeder cattle buyers bid for cattle based on genetic merit. In this age of value-based marketing, our customers’ cattle may be worth significantly more if we can help our customers communicate the genetic merit and healthfulness of their cattle.”

At the same time, Don Schiefelbein of Schiefelbein Farms at Kimball, Minn., explains, “Commercial producers understand there are tools to help them be more successful than ever before. If a seedstock producer isn’t using those tools, commercial buyers will go somewhere else.”

Both of these operations are among the 2016 BEEF Seedstock 100, sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica. This year’s Seedstock 100 represents 25 states and 52,166 bulls marketed.

You can find further insight from Seedstock 100 producers in the special section in the January issue of BEEF, as well as expanded coverage online. You can find it all here.

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Sustainability has become a buzz word

Sustainability has become a buzz word

Sustainability has become a buzz word in the beef industry for good reason. Like it or not, your immediate customers, those who process beef such as Tyson, JBS, Cargill and other packers, and those who sell beef to the end consumer, like Walmart, McDonald’s and many others, have concluded that beef sustainability is an important issue. They are focused on continuous improvement in the ecological, economic, and social aspects of beef production because they believe it is critical to the long-term viability of the beef industry.

A most basic calculation has been made by many of the beef industry’s major customers; if they want to be in the business of selling beef over the next 25, 50 or 100 years, they must sell a product consumers feel good about buying.

Marketing studies have shown consumers expect the food they purchase, including beef, to be environmentally sound (doesn’t harm nature), financially viable (farmers receive a fair price) and is socially responsible (supports local communities, animals are well cared for and is wholesome and nutritious).

But here’s the catch; an increasingly influential and vocal segment of consuming public expects those in the supply chain, which includes ranchers, to build those attributes into the beef they produce. And when this consuming segment is led to believe that the food they buy doesn’t meet their expectation, there is a noticeable negative reaction leading to action. Think of banning sow crates and the requirement for cage-free eggs which have become mandated management practices in a growing number of states.  

seedstock 100

BEEF Seedstock 100 List
Looking for a new seedstock provider? Use our UPDATED Seedstock 100 listing to find the largest bull sellers in the U.S. Browse the list here.

 

In this evolving Internet age, consumers are more aware, have more choices and are expressing greater expectations than ever before. And the beef industry must continue to find ways to accommodate the consumers of the 21st century.

Around the world, the beef value chain is collaborating to find ways to meet the modern consumer’s expectations. In Brazil, the Roundtable for Sustainable Beef has been operating for nearly eight years. To our north, the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef was formed almost two years ago, and here in the U.S., the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef was launched this year. All of these multi-stakeholder initiatives have the intent to clarify the definition of sustainable beef, and to act as a catalyst for working together to support continuous improvement of the sustainability of beef production.

Even with the increased discussion about sustainability across the beef value chain, to date there has been little explanation of what sustainability means from a practical management perspective. The question remains—how does the average beef producer get started on the road of continuous improvement and apply the principles of sustainable management?   

In our 21st century beef production system, where the consumer is king and sustainability is an expectation not a request, decisions about bull selection, grazing management, water management, calving season date, feed conversion, red meat yield, animal husbandry practices and others take on increased meaning in the context of sustainability. A realization that these management decisions play a role in the continuous improvement of the sustainability of the beef value chain is a starting point that producers and other value chain participants must understand. 

Bryan Weech is a consultant and adviser on sustainable agricultural projects. Contact him at [email protected].

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Tips to improve feed bunk efficiency

In a time of cheap corn prices and volatile cattle markets, focusing on effective management techniques – like feed bunk management – can improve efficiency and help producers make the most of already tight margins.

Iowa State University extension program specialist Erika Lundy said that's why the center has revised the existing fact sheet, Feed Bunk Management.

"As a supplement to this fact sheet, we also created a Feed Bunk Management Standard Operating Procedure as a reference to help feedlot employees create operation-driven guidelines and standards to ensure consistency in making feed delivery decisions to cattle," Lundy said. "Users are able to download this SOP and type information into the document to make it specific to their operations regardless of size or structure.”

To check out the Feed Bunk Management fact sheet, click here.

 

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What were the top stories in 2015?

Black baldy cow
<p>Black baldy cow on summer pasture</p>

As we wrap up 2015 and look back on the year that was, Charles Dickens’ familiar quote seems appropriate—It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Coming off a 2014 cattle market that we likely won’t see for a very long time, if ever again, hopes were high that 2015 would continue the momentum. And it did, for a while. But reality came crashing down in a big way in late summer and fall as the cattle market took a hard turn south.

As BEEF editors tally the score for 2015, we look at the articles you clicked on the most this past year. While our coverage of the 2015 market drew plenty of attention, the market wasn’t the only legacy that 2015 will leave. As BEEF Senior Associate Editor Jamie Purfeerst says, “We talked COOL, WOTUS, EPA and every other acronym that dominated the industry in 2015. But, the articles you come back to time and again cover the basics of raising beef cattle -- how to fence, how to prevent cattle diseases and how to make more money for your operation.”

Jamie has put together galleries of the Top 10 articles, blogs and photo galleries for 2015. We think you’ll enjoy this look back at 2015 as much as we do and we truly appreciate all of you for being there with us as we chronicled a very eventful year.

What were the Top 10 articles for 2015? Click here to find out.

Which blogs drew the most attention? Here are the Top 10 for 2015.

BEEF’s photo galleries are one of the favorite places for readers to go. Click here to see the Top 10 for 2015.

We hope you found useful content at BEEF this year. We're looking forward to filling your mailbox with even more breaking news and in-depth stories on how to make your ranch better in 2016.

 

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8 new livestock grazing videos available for viewing online

From Mitchell, S.D. to Electra, Texas, many ranchers were hit with snow and ice in the last week, putting a damper on winter grazing and forcing many cattlemen to feed hay until the winter weather subsides.

While market volatility is one of the most unpredictable aspects of the cattle business, it can also be argued that the weather ranks right up there with factors that are out of the control of the beef producer.

Photo Credit: K-State Research and Extension

Because of the wide range of changing weather conditions ranchers must deal with, educators from Kansas State University, Oklahoma State University, the Noble Foundation, University of Oklahoma and Tarleton State University teamed up to create a new series of eight videos designed to help beef producers adapt quickly to various grazing situations dictated by the ever-changing weather.

You can watch the eight videos here.

Topics include the following:

  • Stocking rate decisions and pasture management considerations
  • Evaluating options and response to drought
  • Genetic trends and climate consideration
  • Culling strategies for drought management
  • Historical climate patterns in the Southern Great Plains
  • Nutrition and management of early weaned calves

The videos address ways to adapt to unusually wet conditions, extreme heat or cold or other unexpected weather changes. The videos also introduce strategies for diversifying, early weaning and stories from successful ranches who have adapted to the recent multi-year drought in the Southwest.

If you’re not busy doing end-of-the-year book work, invest some time to watch this new series. It’s a compilation from many industry experts across the country, and there’s certainly a wealth of information to be gained from these videos.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Penton Agriculture.

 

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7 ranching operations who lead in stewardship, sustainability

Why we need to let Mother Nature select replacement heifers

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Feed and bed your cows without all the waste

Where’s the new NCBA CEO?

Where’s the new NCBA CEO?

Hindsight is always 20/20, but it can be instructive as well. The turmoil that began with the merger between the old National Cattlemen’s Association and the National Livestock and Meat Board certainly resulted in a mixed bag of results. 

It was a great business decision, but a poor one from a political standpoint. Without question, the checkoff grew in effectiveness even as dollars declined. Yet the checkoff side of NCBA, while still enjoying significant support from producers, has also found itself in the political sights of the opponents of NCBA’s policy side. It is a testament to what was created that NCBA has become the dominant contractor to the checkoff. Ironically, that dominance has also created resentment among some.

The policy side of NCBA has not fared as well through the merger. The inter-industry fights over the past years have wasted valuable political capital, and NCBA’s attempts at reconciliation with its opponents hampered its ability to aggressively carry forward the policies of the industry. R-CALF is no longer considered a legitimate player on the political front, but while NCBA may have won the battle, their brand was certainly damaged in the fights that were waged. 

seedstock 100

BEEF Seedstock 100 List
Looking for a new seedstock provider? Use our UPDATED Seedstock 100 listing to find the largest bull sellers in the U.S. Browse the list here.

 

NCBA’s policy side now has the opportunity to return to its roots; its (grass)roots that is. While there is little doubt that the feeding and stocker segments will continue to be powerful voices in NCBA, the cow-calf producer always has and always will be the heart and soul of the organization, not only from a numbers standpoint, but also from a policy perspective. 

NCBA’s leadership should be commended for not doing the simple but rather taking their time in selecting their new CEO. It is generally understood that the focus of our new leader has to be on the cow-calf side, on improving communication within the industry and with outside audiences, adjusting to the new and ever-evolving political reality of today, strengthening our financial footing and reinvigorating the brand internally. 

NCBA, like Congress, is merely an institution, the organization designed to give the industry a voice politically and in shaping the economic environment in which producers operate. Like Congress though, its effectiveness and the support it enjoys is anything but constant. 

It can be argued that NCBA’s success is ultimately determined by its volunteer leadership. Volunteer leaders are paramount to success. The state cattlemen groups, and all those affiliated with the NCBA structure, do a great job of putting forth strong leadership from the membership, but there must also be the recognition that the volunteer leadership by its very nature is temporal and fluid. 

Staff and staff leadership is the constant that keeps the organization moving forward and has a significant impact on its success of carrying the industry’s policy and views forward in a positive way. Thus, the leadership has an excessive burden placed upon it as they search for a new CEO. 

That is why NCBA has taken its time and exercised diligence in the selection of the next CEO. No individual has the capabilities to fulfill all the roles effectively, yet this individual must be able to be the voice of the industry and be able to generate enthusiasm among the membership. 

Hiring leadership is always one of the most critical components of an organizations success, but this hire more than previous ones is particularly critical because NCBA is facing significant challenges. This is a great opportunity and a critical decision for the industry, for NCBA, and most importantly for the industry. The expectations are high and the stakes higher.

The opinions of Troy Marshall are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com and the Penton Agriculture Group.

 

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8 strategies for selecting replacement heifers

8 strategies for selecting replacement heifers

According to the North Dakota State University (NDSU) Cow Herd Appraisal of Performance Software (CHAPS), the average replacement rate for participating herds is 15.7%. Once a rancher has targeted the number of additional heifers to retain from the calf crop or purchase elsewhere, there are several considerations to determine which heifer stays and which heifer goes.

Carl Dahlen, NDSU Extension beef cattle specialist, offers eight strategies for selecting replacement heifers based on specific criteria. While each rancher might implement his own strategies, based on his operational goals for the beef herd, these eight tips encompass many of the basic considerations:

1. Target parentage based on desired criteria

Dahlen says, “A thorough evaluation of mature females in a herd may identify cows from which we simply don’t want to keep calves. Cows or cow families that are overly aggressive, have a history of heavy calves or calving difficulty, or are too large, too small or otherwise do not match our vision of a structurally sound female, may be good candidates to remove.”

2. Have a vision of your “ideal” phenotype

Every rancher has the image of his “ideal” cow in his mind. Of course, these ideals can vary based on who you ask; however, phenotype characteristics are moderately heritable, says Dahlen. “Keeping heifers of an ideal phenotype through time will result in future generations having a greater likelihood of similar phenotype. This criteria can be limiting quickly if the ‘ideal’ phenotype desired is not present in the cow herd.”

3. Keep older heifers

Early-born heifers are older and often heavier at weaning, compared with their later-born contemporaries,” says Dahlen. “Early-born heifers also have a greater chance of becoming pregnant earlier than later-born herd mates.”

4. Cull female twins to male calves

Don’t forget that freemartin heifers (females born twin to a male calf) are infertile and should automatically be culled from the replacement group.

5. Evaluate growth performance/heifer size

“Some producers use the growth rate from birth to weaning, or from weaning to a yearling age, as a selection criteria,” says Dahlen. “The same selection pressure likely is used, indirectly, if the biggest heifers are selected at any given time point. You must use caution with this selection criteria to stay away from selecting extremes that have potential to move mature weights away from your ideal (mature females that are too small or too large).”

6. Study the EPDs & genomics

For purebred cattle, EPDs can be used as a selection tool, and producers can prioritize EPD traits when selecting females. For more information about using EPDs to make breeding decisions, click here. 

Genomic panels are also available to assist with selecting replacement heifers. Dahlen says, “Heifers may look alike and meet all other selection criteria; genomic results can be used to narrow the replacement pool to a target number. If using genomic panels, consider using traits that are of high value to cow herd profitability.”

7. Look at the reproductive tract scores/pelvic measurements

About 45 days before the breeding season, a veterinarian can evaluate the reproductive tract and pelvic measurements of the heifers, assigning a score of 1 to 5. This test can help identify heifers with narrow pelvic areas that might go on to have calving difficulty. It can also identify the freemartins in the group.

8. Select to achieve early pregnancy

Dahlen writes, “Selecting only heifers that become pregnant early (to the first artificial insemination or during the first 21 days of a natural-service bull exposure) can have major impacts on herd reproductive rate and productivity. Heifers becoming pregnant early have greater longevity and wean more and heavier calves, compared with heifers becoming pregnant later in the breeding season.”


Of course, this means retaining a larger number of heifers, which can be limiting based on the forage and feed resources available; however, this strategy can pay off greatly when heifers calve in a tighter window resulting in a more uniform calf crop. It also identifies those that will be able to breed back sooner in the upcoming breeding season.

What are your strategies for selecting replacement heifers? Are you retaining just enough to maintain numbers, or are you in expansion mode this year? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Penton Agriculture.

 

You might also like:

7 ranching operations who lead in stewardship, sustainability

Why we need to let Mother Nature select replacement heifers

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Beta agonists wrongly blamed for fatigued cattle syndrome

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Feed and bed your cows without all the waste

2016 BEEF Seedstock 100 download

Enjoy a printable download of the 2nd annual edition of BEEF magazine's Seedstock 100, a listing of the top seedstock producers in the beef industry ranked by bull sales volume. This BEEF exclusive listing is a who's who of the U.S. beef seedstock industry. Please click on the link below and register to download the PDF file.

View an interactive listing of the Seedstock 100 here.

This project was sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc