Rayner Reckons

Dec 01

I love a successful outcome!

Posted on Monday, December 01, 2014

In a number of these blogs for Rayner Reckons, I've written about the importance of working to achieve outcomes.   I have a deeply held belief that every business should know what goals they are working towards.  Those goals or outcomes don't have to mean that your business is to move into the top ten beef producers in the country, or to own more cattle in the region than anyone else.  

Your goals could be as personal as making sure you and your family can have a holiday away from the farm every year.  Or it could be a decision to structure your operations to respond to seasonal changes without significantly altering your enterprise.   

Whatever your outcomes are, its important to work towards those by structuring your daily, weekly, and monthly activities around the best tactics to help you achieve your outcomes on time and as efficiently as you can.

One of the key outcomes for RaynerAg is to help my clients find ways to more efficiently meet their goals.  

This year I've been working to help the team at Classimate services offer producers who want to market their livestock on line a credible, independent assessment of the structure, temperament, fertility & muscling of their cattle. 

This system would complement other data breeders want to provide their clients, such as EBVs or pedigrees on their animals.  I've written in previous Rayner Reckons about the way we have developed this concept.

For me there are some outcomes I wanted to achieve.  The first was to develop a system that ticked the boxes for industry credibility, repeatability, relevance and most importantly usefulness to producers, both from a selling and from a buying position.  

To achieve this goal I worked closely with a team of people who I respect for their industry knowledge and experience.  Together we developed a cattle assessment system that ticks those boxes.

The next goal was to actually undertake assessments for a producer who wanted to market their cattle on line.  As a new concept I wondered how producers would respond to the new opportunity.

It turns out there has been plenty of interest from producers in Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia. The first cattle to be assessed for the system are based in Gin Gin, Queensland.  

I was really pleased to have over 100 cows come through the yards to be assessed under the system I had developed with my colleagues. I reckon that in itself was a successful outcome to the project I'd been working on.

I reckon the next goal is to use the assessment data in two ways.  The first will be to provide the owners with the ability to market their cattle with the independent assessment scores we allocate each animal.  And secondly I want to provide the owner with a benchmark of their animals structure, the trends and observations I've seen, as well as some suggestions on how to manage those trends.  

That way I reckon there is real value in having your cattle assessed.  One, you can market them to a wider audience, and two, you can have something objective to work towards in your herd improvement process.

I'm really pleased this project is achieving the outcomes I wanted, its also reminded me of a few lessons that can be applied to any project you're working on to achieve your goals.

1. Break your goal down into a series of smaller goals so that you can manage them more easily

2. Look to your networks and seek the skills to help you get to your goal

3. Be prepared to invest in those skills or people.  It might mean paying for advice or assistance, but that is investment that pays a bigger return when you achieve your goals.

4.  Think about the other positive outcomes your achievements might bring.  It could be new options to manage your business, to market your livestock or in my case provide additional tailored support to producers.

I really love the outcomes from this project.  For me, I've been able to see some great cattle, meet some fantastic new producers, work more closely with a great group of colleagues as well as implementing a great cattle assessment program.  Its been a great few months, and I'm looking forward to setting some new goals to work towards.

Jun 19

Should I start a beef cattle stud?

Posted on Thursday, June 19, 2014

In the last few weeks I've had a few enquiries from people keen to enter the beef industry.  The want to start their own beef breeding programs.  Among the questions they are asking is the one "Should we start a stud?" 

I'm asked this question more often than many people would think!  Its generally asked by people new to the industry and excited about breeding cattle.  It can also be asked because their is a belief that operating a small stud might be a way to generate higher returns from a small beef program.  

So there are a few ways I try and answer these questions.  One of the first ways is to ask "why do you want to operate a stud?"

I'm generally not surprised when people struggle to answer this question.  I reckon its a question worth considering, particularly if you are entering the beef industry.

Operating a stud herd, or if you prefer, a seed-stock operation is a big undertaking. These operations are responsible for identifying and producing genetics that can have a major impact in individual herds; on breed direction and ultimately the productivity of the national herd.  

Genetics offer a permanent and cumulative effect on a population.  In simple terms, the genetics produced by individual studs can have a long lasting impact on future generations.  

Seed-stock producers therefore have a pretty big task.  They have to identify and record pedigrees and animal performance across their herds.  They need to collect data which can be used to contribute to the Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) used by the breed and industry to select sires for use in breeding herds.  Seed-stock producers also need to be determined to select animals which not only have genetic potential but have the physical characteristics desired by the industry.  

Its a pretty big responsibility.  It takes years of selection & focus to produce these animals consistently. Quite simply, running a stud herd isn't for everyone!

There's no doubt breeding cattle can be exciting and rewarding!  You don't have to be a registered stud to enjoy the satisfaction of breeding outstanding animals.

For new producers starting a beef enterprise, operating on a commercial basis allows much greater flexibility and opportunities. 

The most important point to remember when commencing a new beef enterprise is to purchase structurally sound, fertile cows.  

There's no doubt this type of cow can be found in commercial herds as well as in stud herds.  Its just that sometimes its easier and often more economical to find them in commercial herds.  

Running cows on a commercial basis, avoids having to register a herd and assume a higher level of administration which is essential to record animals and production data.  

Choosing not to start a stud doesn't exclude you from being a member of a breed society.  Most breed societies offer membership to producers as commercial members.  This allows you to share the information from a society and to get to know the stud breeders who have been working at selecting genetic improvement over a number of years.

Stud breeding is a pretty demanding undertaking. If it isn't going to be a full time undertaking for new producers, I'd suggest it shouldn't be the first enterprise choice!  

If your desire to be a stud breeder is simply to allow you to compete in a show, remember it is possible to compete in agricultural shows without being a stud breeder.  Most local and regional shows have competitions for commercial cattle and for led steers.  These competitions are just as fiercely contested and as challenging as the breed classes for stud animals.

Ultimately breeding cattle is rewarding, exciting and challenging.  It can be intensely satisfying and fulfilling.  If you are entering the industry I'm positive you will experience this enjoyment regardless of your cows status as stud or commercial!  


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