Advice on how to improve ranch management offered
Published on March 28, 2020
During the Casual Cattle Conversations podcast on March 1, Burke Teichert offered advice on how to face challenges and be successful in the cattle business.
Teichert, born and raised in Cokeville on a Hereford operation, attended Brigham Young University and the University of Wyoming (UW) before becoming a successful ranch manager for several large ranches.
He first became general manager of a ranch in Washington for a company transitioning out of the sugar industry.
He also managed seven ranches in Utah, simultaneously, scattered from the Arizona border to the west shore of the Great Salt Lake, before ultimately ending up as the vice president of Deseret Ranches.
To begin his discussion, Teichert points out there are a few common challenges producers will inevitably face while running a beef operation.
“Number one is profitability,” Teichert states, noting profitability is the predominant goal in any kind of business. “The second challenge is knowing how to find, select and keep some good people around. People are always a challenge, but having some good ones around and having some good people skills is important.”
The third challenge beef producers will face, according to Teichert, are maintaining good grazing and good cattle.
“Good grazing and good cattle are critical to profitability,” he states.
“The fourth challenge is marketing. As with any business, we need to be able to do some good marketing,” he adds.
On top of the challenges producers will likely face in the beef industry, Teichert notes there are a few common mistakes young producers make while first starting out.
“The biggest mistake I see young producers make is they take on too much debt when they first start out and it gets them into trouble,” Teichert says. “They also are usually trying to make it on a place that is far too small. If they are doing this, they need to be willing to run more than one enterprise.”
“I think a lot of ranch-raised kids would do themselves a huge favor if they went and worked for another good ranch before trying to do their own thing or returning to the family ranch,” he adds.
Teichert continues, “Another mistake young kids make is too many of them fall in love with horses and want to do all of their work horseback. However, the majority of profitable ranch work that puts dollars on the bottom line is not done from the back of a horse.”
Teichert also says he believes young producers seem to be unwilling to consider working for absentee owned ranches.
“Whether we like it or not, we are going to start seeing more separation between ownership and management, and I think young producers should take advantage of this opportunity,” he states.
Although beef production is a tough industry and producers are likely to face challenges, Teichert lists some advice for overcoming those challenges.
“I had two or three key experiences that really opened my eyes and helped me face these challenges,” he states. “First of all, I met a guy while I was finishing my master’s degree at UW and collecting data for my thesis. I visited his place and asked about his weaning weights and they were significantly higher than anything else I had heard while collecting data from a number of ranches so I thought he was fibbing to me.”
Teichert explains he had heard this guy had phenomenal ranch records so he asked to look at them.
“He motioned me to a little office room in his house and pulled out individual cow cards he had kept by hand because there were no computers at the time,” he says. “At the bottom there was a statement by the county agent who had helped take the weaning weights, verifying the accuracy.”
Impressed by his high weaning weights, Teichert says he asked the producer how he obtained them.
“He told me he does two things – artificial insemination and crossbreeding,” states Teichert. “I grew up on a purebred Hereford operation where we only used natural service, so this experience really opened my eyes to being more openminded and willing to try out new ideas.”
The second experience Teichert explains was during his second job with a boss who was a self-made millionaire.
“This guy has a wonderful way of managing people and one day I asked how he dare manage the way he did,” says Teichert. “He told me he had five jobs he needed done better than he could do himself and he needed the guys to do it.”
“Therefore, there are two ways I suggest producers overcome their challenges,” he adds. “First they need to have an open mind, be willing to make changes and try new things out. Second, they need not be intimidated by hiring people who can do a job better than they can.”
He continues, “For producers to face challenges, they also need to not be afraid of hard work, get involved in groups and be willing to learn.”
Along with his advice on how to overcome challenges in the beef industry, Teichert also offered additional advice on how to be successful.
“First of all there are so many underutilized resources for ranch management,” he says. “The one that sticks out in my head is networking. Networks are so underutilized, especially by small operations because they are so busy getting their work done that day they don’t think they have time to go out and network.”
For larger operations, Teichert encourages bosses to utilize the brainpower of their employees.
“While managing all those different ranches, most of the best ideas came from our inside people, not from me,” he says.
Teichert also notes there are a few characteristics people need to be successful in the cattle business.
“Cattlemen need honesty and integrity. If a person ever loses someone’s trust, they will have to pay a high price to get it back,” Teichert says. “Cattlemen also need to have intellect, work ethic and a passion for the ag industry.” Hannah Bugas is the assistant editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org