New beginnings, even for things we’ve done before

cattle herd
(Submitted photo)

By Morgan Boecker

Sometimes I write out a to-do list just to see what I accomplished. 

Write news release. Wash the laundry. Order groceries. Check, done. What’s next? 

Life is about phases. Some occur just once and some are on repeat. We tend to spend a lot of time and energy trying to build momentum to summit the final arc of a cycle. When it ends, space is created for something new to start, and off we go again. 

Raising cattle is cyclical, too. Each year we face the same decisions between which bulls to use, heifers to keep and how to market calves. Even cattle prices ebb and flow at an expected pace year to year. 

We’re in a cycle many cattlemen have faced before: tough markets and bad weather. The drought of 2012 was hard in the central part of the country and today it’s hard on the west. 

Just like in 2012, the cow herd is plentiful, but inventory will begin to decline as drought forces ranchers to liquidate their herds. First, the bottom string of cows will be sold. If conditions don’t improve, better quality cows may have to leave the herd. 

That begins a tale as old as time: tighter supplies equal higher prices. That’s something to look forward to, even though right now it may feel like things can’t get any worse. The time waiting for things to get “better” is the hardest. 

Still, the message we keep hearing is hold on, leverage is coming. When it does, there may be time for growth and improvement. A fresh start often indicates opportunities.

Will you seek new, better genetics to increase the quality in your herd? Will you try something new, like backgrounding or retaining ownership of calves? Will you find time to analyze data you’ve been holding onto? 

There’s more demand for high-quality beef than ever before. There are more mouths to feed and consumers across the world are buying beef, an entire market ready to be served. 

A new cycle is just beginning. Change often imitates similar motions as the past, but that doesn’t mean history has to repeat itself. Maybe the to-do list just needs adjusted. 

Read my bible. Talk with my family on the phone more often. Workout in the morning. 

Check. But our job isn’t over, it’s just beginning again.

(Morgan Boecker is a producer communications manager for the Certified Angus Beef Program.)


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