As 2016 comes to a close, we can look back and wish for the golden days of the cattle market, or we can look to what’s just beyond the horizon. We all know what good looking back does, so here are a few words/concepts to consider as we enter a new year, a new market cycle, new rules on feeding cattle and a new administration.
It’s hard to think about opportunity when the market is taking a down turn and the FDA is imposing new rules on feed-thru antibiotics. If you look at these as barriers, then that’s what they will become. Choose instead to look at them as opportunities. Even though the market is taking a down turn, it’s still higher than in previous down turns. This an opportunity for producers to review their entire operation and look for opportunities to stream line. The VFD ruling is an opportunity to create a better working relationship with your veterinarian, if you don’t already have one. If you choose to phase out or reduce the use of antibiotics, then it’s an opportunity to explore the many alternatives that are available on the market as well as new markets.
In order to cut costs, producers may be tempted to cut out supplements. While this may save on the budget sheet, it means big losses for your cattle. Maintaining good trace mineral status keeps your cows on track in terms of immune function, reproduction and overall performance. By the time clinical signs of trace mineral deficiency are visible, you have already given up immune function and fertility. Reversing a trace mineral deficiency takes time with a well-fortified supplement; getting your entire herd back on track can take up to a year.
As consumers become further and further removed from agriculture, the need for transparency grows more and more. Today’s consumers want to know that their food had a ‘happy life.’ While the definition of a happy life will vary by the side of the fence you stand on, we can try to demonstrate that the animals are cared for. The Peterson Brothers have done a good job of that on social media, from parodies of popular songs to posting pictures of everyday life on the farm and in the feedlot. (Check them out here.) I’m not suggesting that everyone needs to go to that extent, but if you have a page for your operation, it wouldn’t hurt to share things like that or to even post a few pictures of daily chores.
You can’t go anywhere in the agriculture industry without hearing about or seeing family; and that comes in several forms. It’s one of those things that is easily taken for granted and we assume that the rest of the world knows that ag and family go hand in hand. Going back to transparency, family involvement and ownership is something that we need to share with everyone.
The CRYSTALYX® family thanks you for your business in 2016, we look forward to helping you with all the opportunities that 2017 will bring. We also offer best wishes for your family peace, happiness and prosperity in 2017.