Classified ad, online sale, private treaty bid-off, live auction, and the list can go on and on. There are numerous ways to market your cattle, but have you thought about how to market yourself? Many times cattlemen are guilty of focusing on the cattle and not the other pieces of the puzzle. To set your cattle apart from the others, I suggest you market stockmanship.
Stockmanship, in my eyes, is defined as how you care for and handle your animals. If there was a picture of a stockman in the dictionary, there is no doubt in my mind the stockman would be wearing a cowboy hat. The persona is in place thanks to those that came before us. Those that blazed trails through the west, the ranchers that settled the rugged plains, and today's cattlemen that bust snow drifts to save frost-bitten calves… they have all given us the chance to hold our heads high.
We can take pride in our past, our values, and the warmheartedness that contradicts our rough, worn hands. However, whether we like it or not that image is fading in the public eye. It is up to us to rejuvenate that image by dedicating ourselves to better stockmanship.
Beef Quality Assurance is a program that started to improve chuteside mannerisms and decrease injection site blemishes. Today, this program is much more. It includes best management practices, animal handling, vaccine usage, and overall stockmanship. If you are not current in your BQA certification, I encourage you to become certified.
BQA certification is a catalyst to becoming a better stockman. We owe it to those before us and the children who have a hamburger on their plate tonight to be better stockman. It is time you become certified in responsible, thoughtful cattle management.
The following is a poem written in 1913 by Herbert Mumford, Professor of Animal Husbandry, while he was on faculty at the University of Illinois. He later went on to become the third dean of the U of I's College of Agriculture. He was widely regarded as a foremost thinker and researcher during his time. There is a plaque of the poem at the south entrance of the animal science building that is dedicated to another great stockman, Dr. Waco Albert, U of I professor of Animal Science. This poem says it better than I ever could.
A Tribute to the Stockman by H. W. Mumford
Behold the Stockman!
Artist and Artisan.
He may be polished, or a diamond in the rough – but always a gem.
Whose devotion to his animals is second only to his love of God and family.
Whose gripping affection is tempered only by his inborn sense of the true proportion of things.
Who cheerfully braves personal discomfort to make sure his livestock suffer not.
To him there is a rhythm in the clatter of the horse's hoof, music in the bleating of the sheep and in the lowing of the herd.
His approaching footsteps call forth the affectionate whinny of recognition.
His calm, well-modulated voice inspires confidence and wins affection.
His coming is greeted with demonstrations of pleasure, and his going with evident disappointment.
Who sees something more in cows than the drudgery of milking, more in swine than the grunt and squeal, more in the horse than the patient servant, and more in sheep than the golden hoof.
Herdsman, shepherd, groom – yes, and more. Broad-minded, big-hearted, and whole-souled: whose life and character linger long after the cordial greeting is stilled and the hearty handshake is but a memory; whose silent influence forever lives. May his kind multiply and replenish the earth.