By Jeff Goodwin / September 11, 2017
We recently conducted a survey of 14 resource professionals who have spent their entire working careers assisting land stewards through the good and tough times. These professionals are from respected institutions such as the Noble Research Institute, Texas Christian University Ranch Management Program, the King Ranch Institute for Ranch Management, Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and several private consultants. Additionally, the majority of the respondents own and operate their own cow/calf operation.
Together, these professionals total more than 469 years of experience. They have worked with ranches that have become immensely successful both ecologically and economically, and they have seen mismanagement drive ranches broke. Based on their responses, we organized the top 10 traits of successful grazing land managers below.
10. Cautious risk taker
A cautious risk taker is someone with an open mind and willing to consider more effective and efficient methods of doing things. They often carefully consider new technologies and might implement a test on a small portion of their operation. Many times, they are willing to try new ideas and concepts. They take risks based on knowledge, experience, and sometimes hunches, but on a limited basis. They rarely risk everything and always operate within a safety margin.
9. Willingness to share knowledge
George Bernard Shaw once wrote, “If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples, then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” Most producers who are successful often get great ideas from their peers. They talk and learn from each other, many times gaining more satisfaction from seeing others succeed than themselves.
8. Have clear, measurable and attainable objectives
Successful outcomes are very often a result of carefully planned objectives. Clearly stated objectives keep sideboards on expectations. In order to achieve success, you must also know when you get there. It is often stated, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” From available forage to production costs, it’s hard to take advantage of an opportunity if you don’t know you had an opportunity in the first place. Monitoring and keeping good records is a common practice among successful ranchers. A recent study conducted by Texas A&M indicated that less than 15 to 20 percent of producers monitored their forage, indicating 80 to 85 percent may not know how much forage they have or need. Most successful producers, at a minimum, consistently monitor rainfall, available forage, body condition score relative to class of livestock and reproductive stage, and market tendencies. Then, they act on monitoring triggers.