Farm Management Minute: Farm/ranch management resolutions

Will Walter Instructor, South Dakota Center for Farm
Ranch Management; MTI

How are your New Year’s resolutions going? I’m not here to judge the diet, exercise or lifestyle improvements we may often challenge ourselves with, but rather the declarations you may have made not so long ago such as: “I ain’t gonna let that happen again!”

1. Calving season has begun for some and is right around the corner for many. Do you have the necessary items available that may be needed at a minutes notice? Are calving assistance tools like OB chains, calf puller, halters, etc. available? Also, did you replace that **** spring, or adjust a gate hinge or a part of your headgate that often is a source of frustration & delay? Colostrum supplement, electrolyte replacement, etc. should be on hand. I actually cleaned an area of our basement recently and as much as I hate to discard things, it felt good to throw away expired products of such nature. Apparently I had more than what was needed. A good thing because if they were not needed there must have been fewer problems than anticipated.

2. Bull selection. Performance expectations of cattle have become so advanced with many EPD’s (expected progeny differences) available on seedstock. Getting the cows bred and producing a live calf are pretty important traits! Do not forget the basics of structural and reproductive soundness plus overall health, agility, and proper calving ease EPDs to successfully have a live calf that is available to grow and perform. If you sell your calves around the same day each year, one that is born in the first 3 weeks of the calving season will likely weigh more than his younger penmate with a few pounds higher yearling EPD.

3. Cropping plans. Corn is a staple crop for so many operations. Unfortunately, we have been very good at it for multiple years… Did you catch yourself saying, “I need to have a record crop every year to break-even?” The crop does not need to be sold at what may be a possible harvest low. See #4. Maybe it is time to incorporate a little change in your standard rotation. Be careful if everyone does though. Whatever alternative you consider needs to have a viable market.

4. Marketing. Don’t beat yourself up with the what-ifs. Learn from what you may think was a mistake. Know your cost of production and what level you wish to protect as crop insurance renewal is upon us. An increment sales strategy will allow price averaging over all bushels rather than to sink or swim on a set objective. When you’ve made a decision to act, be sure to implement it by establishing orders as the opportunity may arise overnight or while you are too occupied by what you do best — produce. Even with the technology you have in your phone, it may be too late to react by the time you safely see that text. You may need to adjust your expectations. $3.49 is really close to $3.50.

5. Recordkeeping. Have you just done your taxes or applied for renewal of your operating loan and said, “Man what a marathon I’ve had trying to get all of these things ready. I wonder if I missed something?” The above scenarios that someone else has challenged you with are required, but who should you be keeping accurate records for? Yourself, your business, your family’s well-being.

Today there is not room for 10. This may be continued…

At the South Dakota Center for Farm/Ranch Management, we can certainly help you with item #5 and offer guidance on the others. To learn more about our program visit or contact us at 605-995-7191,