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Management, Marketing and Differentiation

By: Dwayne Summach, MSc., PAg., Regional Livestock Specialist

November 2017

Agricultural producers are often too busy working in their business to work on their business. Taking time to identify your operation’s strengths and weaknesses is much easier when there is a format to follow and real comparisons to be made. The Western Beef Development Centre is currently conducting the second Western Canada Cow-Calf Survey (WCCCS II). Completing the survey does require time, estimated at 60 minutes, and effort to locate financial information, production data, and other information. In return for completing the survey less the financial information, producers will receive a $25 gift card, and if the survey is 100 per cent completed, they will receive two $25 gift cards from their choice of Co-op, Peavey Mart or UFA. The aggregated survey results are considered benchmarks, which an individual can compare their answers against in order to identify areas of their own operation that would benefit from some extra attention. An additional benefit is that in order to complete the survey, you will have gathered and compiled the majority of the information you require to calculate your cost of production.

Marketing of the 2017 calf crop is well under way and most producers I have spoken to this fall are pleased with the results. Whether the calves were sold on a forward contract, sold via an internet or video sale, or through an auction ring, significant revenue has been generated. Knowing how much of that revenue is profit should be one of the first calculations that gets made. Knowing where to invest that profit becomes clearer when you know where you are generating greater profit and what things others are doing to contribute to their profitability.

Differentiation is making one product distinguishable from that of another, similar product. When it comes to agricultural commodities, differentiation is rarely discussed. Yet fundamentally, what a seedstock producer is doing is differentiating their genetics from another breeder’s. The Cattle Genetics Roundup is coming up on December 5 to assist all livestock producers in understanding how to use tools, such as genomically enhanced Expected Progeny Differences, crossbreeding and genetic testing. The proper use of these tools should result in operational improvements that allow you to further differentiate the product produced.

Documentation of activities and verifiable proof is another way to differentiate your operation from others. One such program is Verified Beef Production Plus (VBP+). Workshops are being held around the province this fall, coming to Kindersley on December 11 and Elrose on December 12.  

If you have any questions regarding the WCCCS II, Beef Cattle Genetics Roundup or VBP+ workshops, contact your Regional Livestock Specialist.

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