What is the one thing all good operations have in common? That is a tricky question considering all required to make a ranch successful.
Foremost an excellent Cowboy (or Cowgirl) is an absolute must. This person has to be able to work hard, make good/quick decisions and have a level head in a time of crisis. Above all they have to care for the cattle and people that depend on them. This means family, employees, neighbors and the consumers of the beef produced. Without making all of these people happy the ranch will grind to a halt.
Secondly, but just as important come good cattle. These are the cattle that were painstakingly picked out at a sale many many years ago after careful consideration. Over the years they have been improved upon and selected for only the best traits. These traits make the current herd made up of good mothers with sound conformation and calm dispositions. Their daughters are well put together and feminine while their sons are strong and fast growing. All of these traits of course get passed on from generation to generation while subtly becoming more prominent.
Finally is the support system that makes it all work. The people that make this complex system work are also the people that depend on it. The rancher and the ranch hands are the backbone of the operation, performing day to day activities and grunt work that nobody dreams of doing when they grow up (except little cowboys and cowgirls). The family provides extra labor wether voluntary or not they always end up getting dirty as well. During times of need even neighbors come to help. They will always lend a hand during hard times, granted they are always invited to the good times as well! Finally, the people that it all boils down to are the consumers. Yes, the consumers are a big part of making it work. Without their demand for a nutritious and wholesome product the quality of beef wouldn’t be what it is today. This quality and the efficiency with which it is produced will continue to improve as long as there are still people to eat it.
When you put all these factors together you get: A Legacy. The legacy is that most beef operations are family owned, most of which being passed down for generations. I grew up on a 1,000 acre cattle ranch in the mountains of Northern California that my grandparents bought when they moved there from the coast. We raised cattle, sheep, chickens and any other critter that came on to the property. I graduated top of my class in High School which allowed me to attend the University of California Davis, where I majored in Animal Science with a double emphasis in livestock and equine. I now live in Northwest Iowa where I worked first as a calving herdsman and now in the regulatory department of a genetics company.
I have been very fortunate in the people and opportunities I have encountered so far and hope to share some wisdom, fun stories and of course opinions on common issues. My main passion is the beef industry, but I feel passionate about the future of agriculture in general. It takes a lot of hard work to make this industry work which brings farmers and ranchers together with a great sense of pride. Common misconceptions combined with bad media make the general public weary of what they spend their money on, sometimes making them avoid it all together. This bad press is harmful to our industry and thus directly hurts the diligent people that spend their lives working in it.
I look forward to continuing the legacy of my family one day even if it might be continued out here in Iowa.