Multitask or multi-plan

Angus cattle grazing
Angus cattle grazing. (Farm and Dairy file photo)

I used to think multi-tasking should be a top goal of management here.

Within natural systems like forage and cows, lots of things are always going on at the same time. What if I could do enough things correctly and on time to fit those systems together just right?

Competing for attention

Related systems, like markets, weather and available time all compete for attention.

However, more concerns and solutions keep popping up, partly because technology keeps bringing them on opportunities to do more with limited time if I subdivide that time a little more. Or maybe turn some thinking over to an array of apps on a smartphone.


Critics are coming down on multitasking as a robber of focus, especially when it calls for complex interactions that distract from the primary task.

Some students like to study while watching TV, texting, gaming and eating, but surveys show that’s not a particularly good plan — it just fulfills needs unrelated to studying. When you consider what can go wrong when texting and driving, you quickly see the weight of responsibility involved.

Still, many folks far removed from middle age are coloring within the lines of reason and adopting more and more tech-supported ways of thinking that work for them.

The concepts aren’t so new.


Ask any parent who must perform important tasks like cooking, cleaning, gardening and the like while making sure they retain primary focus on their most important duties.

With cows, I may want to do one thing at a time but management often demands multitasking and considering the impact of and on all related systems. Everything is interconnected, the seasons keep changing and one thing leads to another.

My version of multitasking is not so much in the present as in advance planning to account for most of the connections and possible reactions.

Sure, that involves some computer and calculator time but not in the heat of a moment — more like looking up one thing at a time and calling up related reports to make decisions to put into action.

Some plans affect one hour or even one minute of a day; others affect years.

When it’s time for any action, I try to follow a course that allows for corrections when and if needed, as in holistic resource management.

Stay on course

No matter how much planning or multitasking we do in advance or in the moment, all could be in vain if we don’t look down the road on our course.

Why are we doing this? Because somebody literally demands it, if we are in the beef cattle business. We need to make sure consumers want what we are producing.

Multi-trait selection is a great tool, like the Swiss Army knife of breed association data, that lets us include superior marbling and other carcass traits without backing down on other goals.

Over time, we can see the herd improve on multiple fronts. I love it when a plan comes together.


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