A recent publication listed the top New Year’s resolutions for 2012. As you might guess the most popular ones had to do with pushing away from the table, getting more exercise, getting their lives more organized including budgeting and getting more out of life. By the time you read this you have probably already broken one of them.

The following list is 10 resolutions for your beef operation that you can stick to in preparation for the challenges coming in 2012.

1. Keep better records.
Whether it is a feedlot or a cow calf operation, management of costs in a high cost environment requires knowing what they are and making sound decisions on that basis. Increasingly, good records on environmental management, animal production, animal health and animal care are needed for good stewardship and market access.

2. Attend an educational event.
You never quit learning and the business and technology changes fast. Check the upcoming events on our website for an event near you.

3. Become a better environmental steward.
Do you know where the water goes when it leaves your feedlot or feeding area? Are you a medium CAFO? Learn about the changes in rules and permitting that might affect you. The IMMAG website (www.agronext.iastate.edu/immag/) and the Iowa DNR (www.iowadnr.gov/) are good resources.

4. Develop a health program.
Work with your veterinarian to develop a state of the art health program. Don’t wait until an emergency to give him or her a call.

5. Manage feed storage and handling losses.
The first step in managing feed storage losses, whether it is wet corn co-products, commodities, silage or forages is to measure it. Weigh your feed in and out of storage. You might be surprised how much feed you are losing before the cattle see it.

6. Test your feeds and balance your rations.
Underfeeding reduces productivity and overfeeding increases costs. Send your feeds in for analysis and share the information with your nutritionist. If you balance your rations yourselves, consider the BRANDS program to fine tune and reduce feed costs.

7. Take credit for your manure value.
With increasing value of fertilizer nutrients this is a resource that should be accounted for. This requires testing and applying the manure at agronomic levels.

8. Evaluate your facilities.
Cattle comfort can pay off in better performance, particularly during periods of weather extremes. Efficient handling facilities are makes life easier for both human and bovine.

9. Manage your margins.
Risk management today involves managing the risk of both input costs and market prices. Learn more about the cattle “crush margin” and how to use it for managing volatility and price risk.

10. Get more out of your pastures this summer.
Take a pasture walk or attend a grazing clinic. Forage and grazing management is one way to get more productivity out of fewer available acres.

Source: Dan Loy, IBC interim director