Vet’s Voice: The importance of goals
February 7, 2014
Where did January go? Seems like it was only yesterday we were celebrating Christmas! The older I get the faster time seems to fly. Now is the time we need to evaluate our productivity last year and our fiscal returns. I guess you could call it a "State of the Ranch" report. One important thing we need to do is examine carefully how things went last year and set goals for next year.
Goals are very important for every operation. They can be as simple or as complex as you want. I believe it is important that you write your goals so you remember exactly what you expect and can be easily shared and understood with others in your operation. These goals will allow you to make decisions in a business-like manner rather than acting on impulse or emotions.
Long term goals are important for the operation of your ranch five to ten years in the future. What do you plan to do? Many simple goals are to increase from 400-500 mama cows in your herd. This would mean for the next several years you will need to add cows to your herd. How will you accomplish this? Add more heifers to your heifer development program, purchase bred stock, purchase pails. This highlights there are many ways to achieve your long range goals, and you choose your path through selection of short term goals.
Many producers have long term goals of decreasing their operations size or even retiring. This also requires goals and planning. If you are hoping to transfer the operation to others in the family, you need to plan for this many years. There are many meetings and short courses sponsored by SDSU and others to help you set appropriate goals and a timeline for transfer of ownership. It is never too early to plan for the future!
Cost of production is very important to the financial returns of your ranch. Short term goals can deal with stocking rates, grazing seasons and forage stock piling of roughage. These goals of course will be tempered by "Mother Nature" and the amount of precipitation delivered. This points out the need for a secondary plan to allow dynamic changes if needed.
Goals are important to the management of any business. They can be simple or very complex. It is important to write them out so they can be saved for the future and easily shared with other members of the operation. Be sure to set goals which are attainable and measurable. As you make decisions throughout the year always keep your basic goals in mind and help your operation move in that direction. We all can enjoy the satisfaction of attaining our short and long term goals. These goals may or may not be financial, but as you attain your goals, your financial scenario will generally improve.
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Ranching is a lifestyle, but we need to set goals allowing it to operate in a business like fashion. Careful planning and observation will allow you to measure success through the years. Plan your future, don't just allow it to happen. This will assure your profitable longevity in the areas of your operation you enjoy, raising cattle.