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According to Google

Progressive Forage Editor Cassidy Woolsey Published on 30 January 2019

Google may have all the answers, but it doesn’t mean it always has the right answers.

I learned this lesson last summer when I asked the popular search engine to diagnose the round, red rashes on my shins that itched like a pup with fleas.

According to my online findings, I had a case of mites or quite possibly chicken pox, shingles – and maybe cancer, too.

However, none of these were the right answers. What both Google and I failed to consider was the hike I took a few weeks earlier, unwisely wearing capris (which are calf-length pants, for those readers whose lower legs have never seen the outside of jeans and boots). As it turned out, the rash was just a nasty gift from one of Mother Nature’s unruly plants, poison ivy.

My own search for the “right” answer to self-diagnose my self-inflicted ailment made me think about the range of answers you and I find when we seek information to run our farming operations.

Being an editor, I probably travel to industry conferences and read industry articles more than most. Most of the time I come back from my travels invigorated and excited to share my findings, but occasionally I come back a little conflicted.

  • Do you keep your own replacement heifers or buy them?

  • Should the bull be left in with the cows or taken out?

  • Do you buy equipment or lease it?

  • Is a short calving season or a long calving season better?

  • Do you buy or rent land?

  • Should you mob graze or intensive rotational graze? And is there really that much of a difference?

A few months ago, I had a bit of an “a-ha” moment while attending the National Grazing Conference. Instead of hearing from extension and industry experts, the majority of the presenters at this conference were producers sharing what has worked on their operations. My hand was hard at work scribbling down their innovative ideas and the long and winding route it took to get them there. After each one closed, I was sure that tactic or that system had to be the ration for success.

Needless to say, after a few opposing suggestions, I was left even more bewildered: “So you’re telling me you leave the bull in all year and it works better for you?” “You early wean? But we get paid by the pound.” “A long calving season? Don’t you get docked at the sale barn for that?” “You invested how much money into your leased ground? You better have at least a five-year contract for that.”

Theodore Roosevelt said it best, “Do what you can with what you have where you are.” Sure, a lot of the management strategies I heard that day wouldn’t apply to my little hobby herd, my neighbor’s or the operation I visited in South Carolina last year, but it worked well for the producers presenting the material and vice versa. The real intent, however, was simply to generate ideas.

As an industry, we may have a lot of varying opinions on what works and what doesn’t, but we also have more variability within our industry than most. It’s our hope Progressive Forage can serve as an open forum for industry discussion rather than a recipe book for things like improved weaning weights and crop yields.

You may not find the one-size-fits-all solutions, but we certainly hope you find ideas to consider when searching for the “right” answers for your given situation.  end mark

Cassidy Woolsey
  • Cassidy Woolsey

  • Editor
  • Progressive Cattleman
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