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Guest Opinions

Spring Showers and Ranch Planning

Written by Steve Paisley

While Jan. 1 may be the traditional time to develop New Year’s resolutions and goals for the upcoming year, I tend to think springtime is a better season to plan for the future. For many operations, the calf crop is on the ground, pastures are greening up and breeding season is either here or right around the corner.  Spring is a time of optimism, growth and forward planning – a perfect time to gaze into your crystal ball.

There are literally hundreds of goal setting workshops, worksheets, outlines, guidelines and recommendations.  

To me, they boil down to at least three specific focus points.

First, get everyone involved in the planning process. Everyone who has responsibilities or roles to play in the operation should get an opportunity to share their thoughts and vision. In reality, goal setting is just another opportunity to improve communication between everyone involved. 

Communication is a good thing.  As ranches are passed on to the next generation, communication between all of the family members involved becomes both more important, as well as more difficult.  

Many of the family members involved in the ranch may not actually live and work on the operation. Involving everyone in the planning and goal setting process is key to have a common, shared set of goals.

Next, make sure all types of goals and objectives are discussed and included in the planning process.  

Types of goals may include family goals, individual goals, ranch resource goals and production/profitability goals, as well as business goals. Developing family priorities and quality of life discussions may help to clarify and condense everyone’s expectations towards specific, attainable ranching and business goals.  

Goals should be specific, measurable goals that are realistically attainable. “Having a more successful calving season” may seem nice, but it’s difficult to define “success” without identifying specific goals, such as setting a live calf crop percentage, calving percentage and weaning percentage.  

While production and financial goals are easier to quantify, more important goals involve long-range planning, communication, quality of life, prioritization and definitions of success. Establishing quarterly or semi-annual meetings may be a good way to encourage communication among all involved.

So, as you are flipping through the new artificial insemination catalogs, browsing the ranch supply brochures and imagining all of the potential summer projects, consider writing them down and sharing them with family members.  Successful operations tend to start with having a unified strategy and clear set of goals.