By Miranda Reiman
My sister and I had a name, a self-created logo, an inkjet printer and a handful of steers we fed and sold as freezer beef. We had a business keeping us occupied most of the year and eventually earned enough money to buy our first vehicles.
Over the long haul, we had something inspire both of us to take a keen interest in animal science.
We also had our first partnership.
There were easy advantages to doing it as a team. We’d often trade off morning and afternoon chores. Yet, if the automatic waterer froze – as it often did in the dead of a Minnesota winter – it was all hands on deck to get it taken care of before the school bus came.
Perhaps many first partnerships in our industry are also with family. Maybe it was a business arrangement. Maybe it was a little of both like ours – signing our names next to each other on the operating note made it extra official.
For those individuals who wanted to dip their toe into feeding an undivided share of their calves after weaning without assuming all the risk, they might have partnered with a cattle feeder. Maybe they were once the younger generation, getting a start by keeping some cows in a herd with an established producer. Maybe they’re currently giving somebody a foray into the business themself.
There are partnerships all across the beef business, but they’re not always as clean as who will bale the hay and who is going to feed it.
Some are less direct, but equally as important.
It’s the person who helps us decide on a grazing strategy or the vet who gets our weaning program tweaked just right. It’s the video rep who gives us pointers or the bull customer who comes back year-after-year.
They’re partners. They’re wholly interested in our success, just as we are in theirs. We have shared goals.
And in the end, it’s the consumer who buys beef by the grade or brand, knowing they’ll get exactly what they expect every single time. It’s a trust. It’s a partnership.
Do individuals focus on what they can do to make life better for those at the next link in the beef chain? Are their cattle profitable for them and their buyer and their buyer’s buyer too?
What are they doing to hold up their end of the bargain?
Next time in Black Ink®, Miranda Reiman will write about the next step.