I love this time of year! Christmas and New Year is when I believe mostly everyone to be in their best spirits. It doesn’t matter how bad the seeding or harvest season weather were. You forget about that “one” cow that almost killed you during calving. Right now, we are mostly glad for our families and all the things we have.
With the new year come resolutions. Some of us will start thinking about what, and how we can do things better. If you’re looking for guidance or wondering what others are looking to do in the new year, here is a list of the top resolutions for Alberta ranchers.
EVALUATE THE FUTURE. New year’s mean new beginnings, opinions and outlooks. Use the start of 2023 to evaluate the future of the ranch. How long do you want to keep running it? How involved do any children want to be? Does a succession plan need to be designed? Taking time to answer these questions can help you prepare for the immediate and distant future. We discussed sustainability already. This is where actions will dictate what future your ranch can have.
TRY SOMETHING NEW. During AgSmart 2022, we visited with Tim Wray. He and his family are continually adopting new technologies that reduce labour, avoid depreciation, and simplify management. Trying to find an edge, the Wrays have participated in a number of trials experimenting with genetic tools, pasture health, cover crops, residual feed intake, and artificial intelligence. Don’t be afraid to think out of the box. It is our duty to squeeze every opportunity to increase profits out of a low-margin business.
BECOME AN ADVOCATE. Make 2023 the year to use social media platforms and other means to become an advocate, and tell the real stories behind agriculture. Other ways to become an advocate can include joining a 4-H group or speaking to consumers about agriculture. Stop letting someone else tell your story! Consumers want to know how you do what you do; you should be proud to tell them.
KEEP LIVESTOCK PENS JUST A LITTLE CLEANER. We get it, life on the farm can get pretty crazy and hectic. Sometimes, you might not have a place to store the manure. Maybe conditions aren’t right for hauling. Take better advantage of the days that ARE good for it, and reap the benefits. When cattle pens are cleaner, there are fewer instances of illness and disease. Less medication and vet bills equals more money in your pocket. Healthy, clean animals are a key component to that. Take the time to ensure they’re raised in the best conditions possible, and both improved rate of gain and the farm process will go much smoother.
INCORPORATE TECHNOLOGY. It’s definitely time to work smarter, not harder. If you haven’t yet, it’s time to adopt or re-evaluate your herd data-tracking system. Most veterinary practices offer some sort of data collection but not all are designed to manage your herd’s potential. Maybe it’s time you contributed into a new app development? Smartphone apps rely on real data to validate their technology. The “arm-chair rancher” is one being developed here in Alberta. Look into contributing data.
Regardless of what your personal resolutions are, I wish you all a very Happy New Year. See you all for more stories in 2023. We’ll keep the grill sizzling with information.