Editorial: Building a business, from the block and the bleachers
That’s the basic list I go through when I plan content for our cattle magazines. I research online, pay attention to the sale reports throughout the year, and talk to our fieldmen. We come up with a list of the names in each of those breeds that stood out, or those who have a neat story to tell, or who are working hard at doing it right. These are the folks on the block at the bull sale, holding the mic and saying “thanks for coming.” They’re the ones we interview about what genetics they chose and why, how they produced that $15,000, or $150,000 bull. We never have enough pages to tell all the stories of the seedstock producers who are committed to moving this industry ahead.
But what about the folks in the stands, with well-thumbed catalogs, dogeared and circled, tucked in their back pockets? The folks with paper numbers in sweaty hands, hoping this bull will be the one that takes them one step forward, and that their budget holds out longer than the gavel?
We decided, for this magazine, to talk to those guys. Because without those jeans on the seats, and muddy boots in the sawdust on sale day, nobody is in the cattle business.
The savvy seedstock producers recognize that, although the $150,000 bulls are something to dream about, it takes $2,500, and $4,500, and $7,500 bulls to keep commercial producers in business.
And those commercial producers appreciate the seedstock producers who have put the research, and the selection, the data collection, the marketing and the dreams and setbacks into the bulls and females, semen and embryos they produce. They recognize the value in being able to reliably predict the positive effect an infusion of new genes–or maintaining established genes–will have on their business.
I talked to Denny Hoffman, owner of Hoffman Ranch, near Thedford, Nebraska. Hoffmans raise registered Herefords, Angus and Simmentals for the commercial market. They aren’t trying to win National Western Stock Show (although they do). They’re not trying to sell the most expensive bulls in the breed.
They’re trying to raise cattle that help commercial producers take that step forward. “They’re our total focus,” Denny says. “Our purpose in business is to produce high quality seedstock for commercial producers. We want sound, trouble-free cattle with good performance and good doin’ kind of cattle.”
Many of the producers in this magazine don’t fall into one of those breed categories. Most fall into at least two, and some of them may raise breeds not even on the list. They’re seeking traits like easy fleshing, moderate-framed, sound-footed, calving ease, or high weaning weights. They’re less concerned with the name on the paper than the pounds in the ring.
Because, when the gavel falls in October, or the truck bumps the chutes, that’s the number that counts in the cattle industry.