Table of Contents:
- Soil Health Comes First, Then Grass & Livestock
- A change in management approach
Beef producers need to change the paradigm in ranching from livestock-grass-soil, to soil-grass-livestock.
In recent columns, I’ve touched on the following topics:
• Empowered people, because everything in our businesses happens because of and through people – usually those closest to the business, land and livestock.
• Sustainability, because it’s such a buzz word and people outside of our business will have an impact, whether we like it or not. Also, ranchers don’t know all we should about the environment, particularly the ecosystem – its complexity and interconnectedness, and how it reacts to our management actions.
• Planning strategically first, and then developing tactics and operational schedules and methods to accomplish the strategic objectives. Too often, we do it backwards – starting with operations, then tactics, letting strategy be determined by default – with tactics defining our strategy.
If my writings do nothing more than confirm your current thinking, I’ll have failed. My aim is to, respectfully yet somewhat vigorously, challenge your current view of a cattle ranching business and lead you to some new thoughts, approaches and methods.
I’m reminded of my first meeting with the late Bud Williams – the best, in my opinion, of many gurus of stockmanship. After about 10 minutes of my questioning him, Bud stopped me and said that we needed to change the rules of the conversation.
He then pointed out that I was looking for things I did similarly to how he did them. He told me that I would likely find some and, when I did, “you will think you’re as good as I am, and you’re not.” He then said that for the rest of our conversation, I should only look for things (ways of handling livestock) that he did differently and ask why.
That very short exchange changed the way I have tried to learn from others ever since. Now, when I occupy the role of learner, these are my questions:
- What are you doing?
- Am I seeing it correctly?
- Why do you do that?
- Why do you do it that way?