What do farmers have 100% control over?

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Posted by Brendon Walsh on 2 February 2018

angus cows

Sheep and beef farmers often find themselves in situations they wish they weren’t in. It could be inadequate feed for their animals, unintended pugging, or even an excess of pasture “forcing” them to pay a lot for extra stock. Usually, knee-jerk reactions and panic decisions attempt to mitigate the “problem.” But seriously, how can the climate or the markets be blamed for these actions and decisions?

Farming can be tough, and I am not here to take farmers down. I would rather provide solid systems to help them regain some strength in their decision making and in their businesses. In fact, this is what my company (GrowFARM) does, but back to the questions at hand.

In my last blog I asked the question “Is this season really such a challenge?” and discussed proactively responding. This is about habitually staying ahead of the game. Here, I am discussing the importance of perspective, thinking from a bigger picture and logic - 3 very basic but profound concepts if utilised by farmers on an ongoing basis. Although not the answer on their own, they can reduce stress and lift the number of positive results daily.

Our perspective or viewpoint has a huge effect on our actions and results. In the above examples the “behind the game” feelings and the knee-jerk reactions can usually be put down to lack of preparation by the farmer. No way you say! Surely the climate is to blame! Well no, not really. Let me explain using perspective, bigger picture thinking and logic.

Let’s look at a point in the future where a certain pasture cover is required (already proactively thinking) to take advantage of a subsequent profit period. If you achieve it, you can feed your stock well at that time or soon after, for a profit. Bingo, those problems tend to melt away! You have 3 main things to work with to achieve that pasture cover, namely the starting pasture cover now, the things that increase that pasture cover, and the things that decrease that pasture cover. That means you have choices.

Starting with the pasture cover you have now, what increases that pasture cover? Simply, it’s pasture growth rates. What decreases that pasture cover? Animal intake or demand. Can you control pasture growth rates? No, they will do what they will do and will likely go up, stay static or drop. Yes, you can spend money trying to influence them, but doing so profitably is not a normal outcome. Peeing into the wind is hazardous. Don’t try and control what you definitely can't control!

What you can control is animal intake or demand. As a farmer you have 100% choice on what you run on your farm every day of the year. If the period ahead is a low pasture growth time, then reduce the animal demand and you have a great shot at achieving the cover you want at that future point. Opportunity then abounds! It helps of course if you start with a good cover now so ideally you will have already applied this process to get to where you are now.

I can hear the protests about needing “high stock numbers to make money” and “I need to keep my stocking rate high for the bank.” Yes, I get it. But choose that path and you put yourself in a very risky position. That would take you away from profit, not towards it because that target is needed to crank the following profit period. For more information, check out my other blogs and ebooks for an understanding of the 6 Profit Principles.

If the upcoming period has likely high pasture growth rates then once again you have choices around animal demand, to achieve the target pasture cover. Trimming of pasture using animals or other methods may or may not be required to help you set up for the target, or you may have other options such as a different class of profitable stock. Each year that period may have different conditions based on climate, but you have many options if you prepare in advance.

Either way, by using this logical and simple perspective on setting up for opportunities and using bigger picture thinking, you can take control and cause your farm to be in the position you want. If you just use “here and now” thinking and react once it is too late, then don’t blame the weather or the markets. Instead, accept responsibility for being behind the game and take responsibility to get some help about how to be ahead of the game.

I have found that any farmer is capable of this if they want to make the changes badly enough, and that’s great news! It means we can each do something about the hits we take in our farming businesses.

We can take less hits, or we can take more. It’s your call. Will you take responsibility? What will you choose?

If you are curious about how the GrowFARM® System helps sheep and beef farmers take control of their businesses and unlock their potential, contact me here.

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  • Put yourself in the driving seat and never let anybody behind the wheel of your business. Set yourself a clear destination, get some guiding principles that give you direction and get some methods that take you closer to your goal. Get yourself the tools and support to avoid short cuts that end up being back roads to nowhere, and enjoy the journey to a more profitable farm business. As a Growfarm client I'm in my drivers seat everyday taking turns and owning the results of my actions!
    Yes, sometimes I take turns that are not traditional and others challenge, but I know where I'm going and its going to hurt me more if I crash or never reach my destination....Talk to the team at Growfarm if you're keen to start creating your road map to a profitable farm business!

    Posted by Melissa Bradley, 02/02/2018 7:07pm (4 years ago)

  • What Brendan is saying here becomes ever more important when you think about the 'weather' we've all had lately. Wet, dry, hot, wet and who knows what Feb/Mar will bring? Remember that the cost of growing the next round of pasture needs to be factored into your potential profitability. Get that figure wildly wrong and profit isn't going to happen.

    Posted by Sue Edmonds, 02/02/2018 5:40pm (4 years ago)