Focus on What You Can Control
Every wonder why there aren’t too many “type A” people in the sheep and goat industry? You know, the type of folks who have to control every segment of their lives. As if the weather, markets, and government weren’t enough, multitudes of dogs, kids (human), kids (goat), half-functioning pickups, leaky fences, and futile attempts at social interaction off the farm can just be flat too much to stay on top of.
Most sheep and goat ranchers are adaptive to the things that are out of their control.
Being able to “roll with the punches” is undoubtedly a prerequisite to any agricultural production career. But has this adaptive behavior consumed so much of our mental energy that it has prohibited us from focusing on things that we can control?
For instance, we tend to be price takers. I too am guilty of selling lambs and cull sheep when it is convenient for me. However, an astute marketer can study what has happened in the past, predict what might happen in the future, and work to create their own destiny. The recently developed lamb and goat market forecast app proved to me that strategic marketing can have a major impact on the bottom-line.
To improve your marketing skills, I suggest starting with creating a realistic goal for the value you hope to attain, which will stimulate a plan to help you reach this goal. Without a goal, you will continue to be price takers and may be leaving money on the table. If you need help utilizing the iPhone app or online worksheets, we’d be glad to discuss this with you.
Predators lurking in the shadows are generally considered an issue we are forced to deal with because someone else harbors them. While this may be true, what happens beyond your fenceline is out of your control. Having a plan for their inevitable presence on your ranch is what we must focus on. It is not easy and not always attainable, but addressing the problem before it is an issue improves your chances of success immensely. We have a team of people at the Texas A&M AgriLife agency to help you develop a predator control strategy. Let us know if we can be of assistance.
Another goal you need to have in mind is lamb/kid crop. Generally, we measure this at weaning, but too often producers consider their maximum attainable lamb/kid crop for the year by the “drop rate”, or number of offspring born. If we want to improve lamb/kid crop, setting a goal and planning to attain this goal must start before the breeding season.
• Females must be in the right body condition at mating and prior to giving birth
• Selected breeding animals based on genetic potential for large lamb/kid crop
• Plan to protection newborns from harsh weather
• Predator prevention strategy before newborns hit the ground
• Parasite control strategy before major signs of illness occur
A career goal of mine is to see the Texas lamb and kid crop increase by 50%. Texas is consistently 30 percentage points behind the national average (80% vs 110%). To realize this goal the best Texas sheep and goat producers must wean 150% or greater lamb and kid crops. Do me a favor and set your own lamb/kid crop goals for 2020 and beyond.
No, we can’t control mother nature or the markets or our neighbors. We can, however, set goals to achieve higher levels of production than has ever been done in this great state. To do this we must “Focus on What We Can Control.”
To provide feedback on this article or request topics for future articles, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 325-657-7324. For general questions about sheep and goats, contact your local Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service county office. If they can’t answer your question, they have access to someone who can.