Teichert defines ranch management essentials, gives tipsWritten by Saige Albert
“There are five areas that we have to manage, and we manage them whether we think about it or not – production, economics, finance, marketing and people,” he said. “I think there are five essentials of ranch management.
Integrative and holistic
“Management needs to be both integrative and holistic,” commented Teichert in his presentation.
He explained that producers must bring all pieces of their operation together to achieve full integration, making sure to pull information from all sources.
“The word integrate comes from integro, which means who,” he continued. “You must bring the ranch to a whole – one spot.”
With an integrated operation, Teichert also added that decisions must be made holistically – by considering the entire operation and taking all information into account.
“In other words, I should take into account everything I know and everything I understand to make the best decisions,” he said.
For example, when selecting bulls, Teichert noted that many producers are looking for high growth bulls. However, with those bulls come larger calves, an increase in calving problems and calves that require more feed.
“We have cows that need a lot more feed so we have to have less quantity,” he said. “You have to think about stocking rate in relationship to growth rate and size.”
Because of the price slide, Teichert also mentioned that lighter weight calves can also bring more money.
As his second key management tool, Teichert pinpointed continuous improvement of key resources as important.
“I want to improve land, livestock and people,” he said. “Those are my key resources.”
If resources such as land are managed properly, extreme weather situations, such as drought, don’t result in as much setback.
“If I raise grass wisely, I don’t harm the land so severely in drought, so the next time rain comes, away we go,” he said.
Teichert suggested using time-controlled, planned grazing for improvement of the land. While mob grazing has increased in popularity, he added that the strategy is high-risk.
“My suggestion is don’t go there all at once unless you are on a small piece of land that is probably irrigated,” he recommended of mob grazing. “You really want to invest yourself into that type of management.”
With time-controlled, planned grazing, Teichert noted that grass is allowed enough time to recover and isn’t grazed at the same time each year, allowing all species to thrive.
“It involves some rotation, but I hesitate to call it rotational grazing,” he commented. “Some people want to fix times on rotational grazing, and that can result in planned overgrazing. You want to be careful.”
In improving cattle, Teichert emphasized selecting cattle that match the environment so they can perform.
“I don’t care if my cows are beautiful, I want them to be able to graze through a bunch of snow,” he said as an example of a high-elevation environment.
The last resource – people – is equally important to improve, and Teichert said that a ranch manager should provide the tools, training and freedom for people to grow.
With an integrative, holistic management strategy and management of key resources, Teichert noted that the use of good planning tools is important to overall success.
“Use computers,” he said. “They are wonderful. Computers provide for data collection, data availability and the ability to analyze.”
Good planning is essential to all aspects of the ranch.
“I like to plan by key result areas,” Teichert added. “I also like to think about how each one interacts with the others.”
If an operation has a hay pasture and cattle facet, for example, Teichert said the rancher has the opportunity to hay the operation and feed in the winter or reserve the land for grazing.
“Start interposing the hay production element with the range production element to see how to make it work,” he said. “You have to integrate them and get them to work together.”
As part of planning, Teichert looked at analysis of finances and of each aspect of an operation to improve overall management.
“We account for all of our herds separately,” he said, noting that he has a different person operating each herd of the operation.
“Everyone can tell you how much their cows cost, on a per cows basis,” Teichert continued. “Once they know that, they can start making better and better business decisions.”
War on cost
At the end of the day, ranchers are looking to produce a product – beef – for consumption.
“There is a war on costs for a lot of reasons,” he added. “One of those reasons is people don’t have to eat meat.”
At the same time, even if consumers do eat meat, beef isn’t their only option, and Teichert said that cattle producers must make sure to not out-price their product.
“We need to remember that we need to have the product, and we need to have it priced at the marketplace so that they can afford it,” he commented. “We have to be competitive.”
“Do we leave money on the table?” asked Teichert. “With cull cows, we leave a minimum of $50 on the table.”
By marketing more effectively, he said that producers can take advantage of the dollars left on the table, and in better marketing cull cows, some of the profits can be realized.
“Production must fit the marketing plan,” Teichert explained. “You know what you are doing production-wise. If you decide to change that, you have to look at what it does to marketing.”
For example, if a producer changes weaning date, marketing may have to be adjusted.
At the end of the day, Teichert answered the question, “How do you do it?”
“Planning, planning, and more planning,” said Teichert of accomplishing the goals of each of his management essentials. “Careful coordination of reproduction, genetics and marketing must occur to improve together.”
He said that each aspect cannot improve without the other, and practice can develop the ranch manager’s skills as well to result in a productive operation.
Managing to improve profit
Douglas – Range management consultant Burke Teichert of Orem, Utah highlighted five areas of any operation that must be managed for, as well as three ways producers can improve their profits at the 2012 Cattlemen’s Conference held on Aug. 15.
“There are five areas that we have to manage now – production, economics, finance, marketing and people,” said Teichert.
He continued, explaining that with appropriate management, additional profits can be made by increasing turnover, decreasing overheads and improving gross margin.