I’ve made progress in learning from my management mistakes.
My wife would testify that half of the articles I’ve written are the result of my having made some major management mistake on our operation. For perspective, I’ve written literally thousands of articles, so one might assume that all that humbling would drive me to always seek out the advice of experts. Not so.
I will admit that I’ve made progress in that area, however. For instance, I don’t play nutritionist nearly as much as I used to, and I have a couple of trusted veterinarians on speed dial.
I enjoy reading the business guru Tom Peters, but I took to heart his statement that you should outsource anything that you aren’t best in the world at. It soon became obvious to me, however, that truly applying that credo might put me right out of a job.
So I’ve learned the value of consulting the experts on the big-picture things and in areas that are new to us. However, I am still guilty of thinking that I’m effective in performing tasks that are similar to other things we’ve done.
For example, let’s consider drylotting cows. Fortunately, we have never done it before, but the drought has encouraged us to try a lot of things for the first time. I had made arrangements to place the cows at a good yard, had a limit feeding ration that I had determined would be cost effective, etc. We had plans all drawn out for our earliest early weaning ever.
A really good consulting veterinarian stopped by the other day. After discussing his program, we mentioned that we were going to take some cows to a drylot scenario and early wean the calves. The amount of good information he offered was amazing, and we filled several pages of notes.
For instance, I didn’t know that a pen should stand 10 days after being cleaned. I didn’t know the cows should be bedded to avoid scour issues that can be caused by certain bacteria that are prevalent in that environment. I didn’t even think about the stress/happiness issues that accompany a limit-feeding environment and the ways to manage that.
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When it came to early weaning, I was sure I’d done my homework. But even there I learned about going in and scraping the pens in strips, going deep enough to hit moisture (in our country that would have to be pretty darn deep this year). The calves will lie in those wetter areas, and it reduces dust and a whole host of problems.
I won’t recount all the information he provided. Unfortunately, like most good advice, I’ll be lucky to get 75% of it implemented the first year. Still, it never ceases to amaze me how little I know compared to the experts in their specialty areas.
So, I think I’ve found my role at last. I may not be the best in the world at it, but somebody has to integrate and figure out how to implement all the wisdom we receive.
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