Young Cattlemen Group
Name and Title:
Denise Schwab, Beef Field Specialist
Fiscal Year Submitted:
POW Number & Title:
140 Iowa Beef Center
Title: Young Cattlemen Group
Keeping young producers involved in the cattle industry with a strong focus on profitability has been a challenge. The goal of this program was to establish a core group of young cattlemen, custom design educational programs and discussions to meet their needs, and to serve as a support system to each other.
What Did You Do?:
A key group of 30-40 young cattlemen in Tama, Poweshiek, Benton, and Iowa counties (west group) were invited to participate in the project starting in 2007. “Young” would be defined as in their 20’s or 30’s. Sessions are held in the evenings to accommodate those who also have off-farm employment. A second group was initiated in Clinton, Jackson and Jones counties in 2008 (east group).
The group was directly involved in determining their program needs by use of a typical needs assessment process. Each meeting consists of a presentation followed by group discussion. In addition to ISU speakers, local ‘seasoned’ cattlemen will also be used in the next year to help establish a local support system. Producers will also be encouraged to start keeping SPA records.
Since its inception, 73 producers have participated in one or more of the sessions. A short evaluation was collected in the late summer of 2009 to measure success of the project. Following are the results.
“I really enjoy hearing from others and seeing what worked for them and how their knowledge can help my operation” and “Knowing that there are young farmers out there.” These are just two of the comments participants provided for what they believe are the most significant benefits from participating in the Young Cattlemen Project.
Following are the producer impacts from the project proposal and participant responses:
- Participants in this program will be the future of the beef industry, with stronger management and leadership skills.
- Twenty nine participants started a business plan using the online Ag Plan program. Collectively they control over 2100 cows, 8500 backgrounded or finished cattle, and more than 16,000 acres of crop ground.
- Participants have also become more active in other Extension programs. Twenty of them are on the email list for the Iowa Beef Center monthly newsletter, five attended the ration balancing workshops, eight attended the cow herd profitability meetings, seven have requested additional individual follow up, and one was a finalist in the Iowa Beef Center Inventor contest.
- Participants will develop a business attitude toward their cattle operation by identifying challenges, setting goals and developing a business plan to improve their operation. They will complete a business plan one small step at a time as the underlying component to their identified challenges. At the end of a year, they will have a simple business plan laid out that can then be easily updated annually. Improved business management should lead to higher profits and longterm sustainability in the cattle business.
- Twenty nine participants started a business plan using the online Ag Plan program. Eight of those included two or more written goals for their operation and two included written marketing plans.
- Participants were asked how they have utilized the Farm Plan and a few of responses were: “Changing some of my practices to make sure I am going in the right direction.” “Kept myself true to the goals I set.” “To show the banker.” “Help manage our business much better.”
- Participants will strengthen their leadership skills and in turn give leadership to the beef industry and ag organizations.
- At least eleven of the 74 participants currently serve on their county Cattlemen boards, and one has just been elected to serve on the Iowa Cattlemen’s SE region nominating committee.
- Successful producers will share their business experience, and how they utilize records for making business decisions. A network of successful young producers along with mentors will be established to support each other long term. By approaching their cattle operation from a business perspective, participants will learn ways to move toward full-time on-farm employment and away from off-farm employment to support the farm business.
- The final survey asked participants how the Young Cattlemen project has helped you to analyze your beef operation. “It let me compare my operation with others thus letting me see if my decisions were valid.” “You have to step back and look at the whole picture, find a problem and go after that problem.” “More exposure to operations of similar size and interest and also to see how different operations work.” “Keep closer eye on feed costs and alternatives.” “Identified areas of weakness to work on.”
- Participants will learn to evaluate their options and be critical decision makers, and will see this role-modeled by the producer speakers and mentors.
- How has the Young Cattlemen project increased your knowledge of managing risk? “The cattle marketing program gave me more tools to use when selling or protecting my cattle from risk.” “Every risk you take you don’t know what to expect, the more people you get to talk about those risks that helps a lot.” “How to lower feed costs.”
- As a result of discussing the importance of a rotational grazing system, Scott is considering adding a second system, Neal is in the process of getting his fenced, Chad, Scott & Jason have asked for assistance in designing a system and are applying for EQIP funding, Damian hosted a pasture walk, and Ben has asked for information on the Grassland Reserve Program for funding pasture improvements.
Participants were asked what changes they made as a result of participating in this project?
“I have taken a more serious look at my watershed quality and have made a plan to improve filters and collection of sediments.” “ A lot of little ones but one big one would be to step back and look at the whole picture and make sure I am doing things right.” “I changed my marketing plan.” “Began longer term thinking.” “Better pasture management & better marketing plans.” “Controlling manure run off for better quality manure and environmental issues.”
What changes do they plan to make in the future as a result of participating in this project?
“Trying to manage some of the smaller aspects of cattle production that I sometimes overlook.” “I have never implanted before, but now I am going to.” “Build a feeding system that increase cattle comfort and better quality cattle.” “More rotation of pastures.” “Am planning on renovating pasture that has been in CRP.”
How well did we hit our targets? Of the 17 participants who completed the final survey:
- Fifteen said the program helped a lot in identifying issues impacting their long-term profitability.
- Twelve said the program helped a lot to evaluate their operation against benchmarks or standards.
- Fourteen said the program helped a lot to evaluate the financial status of their beef operation.
- 7 said it helped a lot and 9 said it helped some to develop a calf marketing plan.
- All 17 said it helped a lot to increase their knowledge of beef production practices to enhance long-term success.
- 13 said it helped a lot to increase their knowledge of business practices to enhance long-term success.
- 13 said it helped a lot to increase their knowledge of risk management techniques.
- All 17 said they set at least two goals to work on in their beef operation.
- 12 said they completed a written marketing plan.
- 14 said they re-evaluated the use of production technologies such as implants, ionophores, electronic tags, etc, in their operation.
- 10 completed a mission statement and business goals.
- 12 compared the financial status of their operation to benchmarks provided.
- 15 met or identified one new producer they could contact with questions or concerns about their beef operation.
- 17 consulted with others from this group outside of the meetings.
- 5 went on-line to update their farm plan.
- 10 shared their business plan with their lender or financial partners.
140 Iowa Beef Center
Page last updated:
June 30, 2010
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