“Market Advisor” columnist Harlan Hughes explores the key variables that separate the top 10% most profitable herds from the worst 10% in “Managing the best and worst herds” on page 8. With production costs inflating, Hughes says part of the antidote is increasing your management intensity to move into that top 10%.

Grazing management consultant Jim Gerrish points out in “Three tips for profitable stocker grazing,” (page 15) that lower-than-expected gains in stocker calves are most likely due to something other than genetics, and outlines three areas where stocker operators may need to apply a little more management.

The late 1980s' trend of packing plants moving to the nation's interior left Southwest cattle feeders facing some bleak prospects. That's when a group of producers formed Brawley Beef LLC, a producer-owned beef processing plant. Clint Peck tells of its trials and the teamwork behind its success in “Brawley Beef Country,” page 44.

Tired of spraying weeds in your pasture each year? Animal behaviorist Kathy Voth demonstrates how cattle can be trained to help clean up unwanted weeds. In “Weed Whackers,” page 28, Voth explains her seven-step program for getting cattle to dine on those plants you're trying to take out of your pastures.

Surviving as a stocker operator in a time of tough margins takes flexibility and the nerve to seize opportunities. Wes Ishmael explores the concept in “Ready To Jump” on page 36, pointing out that the role of stockers is growing ever more-important as feedlots strain against today's strangling breakevens.

Last year, the Beef Improvement Federation named Camp Cooley its Seedstock Producer of the Year, the first time a Bos indicus breeder had been so honored. Joe Roybal paid a visit to the ambitious and innovative Franklin, TX, operation recently and chronicles his findings in “The Camp Cooley Way” on page 40.