• Jesse Bussard

    EPA Sage Grouse Endangered Listing Obscured By Bundy Range War

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on April 17, 2014

      Federal lands grazing and the Bureau of Land Management have been front-and-center in the media over the past few weeks thanks to events like the Bundy 'range war' in Nevada and disputes over wild mustang herds overgrazing public lands in Utah. Most Americans who were never even aware such things existed are now in the know. In the midst of all buzz, the impending potential listing of sage grouse as an endangered species lies waiting. If Cliven Bundy thought the desert tortoise…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Nevada "Range War" Seems A Tough Story To Unravel

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on April 10, 2014

      By now most of the nation is aware of the self-proclaimed "range war" brewing on the ranch of Cliven Bundy in Clark County, Nevada. The situation is complex, and like most complex issues it's hard to pinpoint who's in the right and who's in the wrong on this one. Throw in the various spins the talking heads of the media are taking on the story and we will likely never get a straight answer. According to the federal government and recent reporting from ABC, the…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Speaking Of Writing, Nearly Everyone Could Beef Theirs Up

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on April 3, 2014

      Last week I had the pleasure and opportunity to speak to an animal science class at my alma mater, Penn State University in State College, Penn. I was asked by my former undergraduate adviser to speak on the topic of writing in agriculture, as this was a writing-intensive course. I decided to share my ideas here in my blog because writing is an important communication tool nearly everyone could use more effectively. I was honored to have the chance to share some of what I have learned…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Here's Another Chance To Learn Bud Williams Stockmanship

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on March 20, 2014

      Ever since discovering low-stress stockmanship a little over five years ago I have been a major proponent of its value to the beef industry. In addition, I saw similar value when I was exposed to the concept of sell-buy marketing for the first time through a Nebraska rancher friend of mine. Bud Williams was the major driver behind developing the principles for each of these valuable livestock management skills. He passed in November of 2013 but his legacy and teachings, and other…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    College Isn't Filling The Knowledge Tank For Young Farmers

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on March 12, 2014

      Ever since I attend the Ranching For Profit School in late January, I have been pondering the question, "What's the right path to gain knowledge and skills a young farmer or rancher should take to adequately prepare them to enter the industry?" When I refer to industry, I mean the part of agriculture that is most lacking in a younger demographic, the people with their boots on the ground, who get their hands dirty and grow the crops and raise the livestock which feed our…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Tomorrow's Top Farm Managers Will Be Very Different

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on March 6, 2014

      A couple weeks ago I probed the question "What is your relationship with the future?" This relationship is fundamental in determining the outcome of each individual and even the industry as a whole future outcomes. Understanding this relationship and choosing a positive perspective versus a negative one will ultimately be a huge factor in all future successes. In a recorded lecture from July 2013 I recently listened to Gary Hamel, a renowned management thinker, author and…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Sharing The Rewards From Hard Knocks And Determination

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on March 1, 2014

      Live life without compromise: That is what I have tried to do since the moment I realized it was the only way for me to be happy. I live life on my terms; not anyone else's. I'm happy because of it, but I won't tell you it's easy. It's not. I think the difficulties have helped me be a better writer, to be more willing to challenge the status quo and not be so afraid of the disapproval that sometimes comes with such disputes. That seems important in an industry as…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    What Is Your Relationship With The Future?

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on February 20, 2014

      A Feb. 6 blog post by one of my favorite business and marketing gurus, Seth Godin, had me pondering this question recently and how it relates to ranching businesses. Godin says there basically are two types of relationships we have with the future. The first involves an optimistic vision of what lies ahead – "tomorrow is likely to be better." The second view is that "yesterday was a lot better than today." With the first outlook the individual sees…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Answering More Questions About Ranching For Profit Experience

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on February 13, 2014

      Last week, I gave a recap of what I experienced at the Ranching for Profit School I attended in Billings, Montana, from Jan. 19-25, and here’s more of the same. As you may recall, I went into this school with high expectations. Looking back on the time spent, I can say my expectations did not hold a candle to what I actually experienced. The saying, "You had to be there …" applies to this situation. However, I'll do my best and continue this week answering…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Ranching For Profit School Meets My High Expectations

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on February 6, 2014

      In mid-December I told you about my decision to attend a Ranching For Profit (RFP) School, now a reality. I went to one of these schools in Billings, Montana, January 19-25 with about 60 people. I was lucky to get in because more than 15 were on a waiting list and didn’t. This was one of the most popular classes RFP had hosted in quite some time. The group had all ages represented, yet according to proprietor and teacher Dave Pratt the overall demographic of the group was on the…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Prosthetic Legs For Frostbitten Calf May Not Be So Humane

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on February 2, 2014

      Scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed this week, I came across an intriguing story about a rescued frostbitten calf who had received prosthetic legs to allow him walk again. A friend had posted the story saying, "I understand the research side of this, but you can't tell me this is practical or humane." A little background on this story …"Hero" the calf was found abandoned and freezing to death in a Virginia field back in April 2013. The calf was sent…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Better Guard Dogs May Help Livestock Against Big Predators

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on January 23, 2014

      When it comes to difficult management issues, sometimes it's best to take a lesson from someone else dealing with a similar problem. Here in the Northern Rockies, unlike much of the rest of the country, ranchers increasingly come face to face with predator species such as wolves and grizzlies. Research involving livestock farmers in South Africa dealing with big cats, such as cheetahs, show that livestock guardian dogs can be a viable solution to coexistence. In the earlier part…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Science Finally Measuring Values From Good Grazing Management

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on January 9, 2014

      A healthy and productive grassland contains a diversity of biological creatures. It has long been known by savvy graziers that the amount of biodiversity in a grassland ecosystem can be directly linked to how intensely the land is used, whether by livestock, wildlife or some other use. Intensive use of grassland, through overgazing for example, can lead to declines in biodiversity. Researchers from Switzerland and Germany have discovered it is the rarest species that suffer the most…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Proposing A New, Reductive New Year's Resolution

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on January 5, 2014

      If you are among the millions of Americans who set resolutions for the new year, I have some bad news for you. Recent statistics from the University of Scranton show about 45% of people who make New Year's resolutions but only 8% actually follow through and are successful at achieving their goals. That's a pretty depressing number when you think of the overall number of people participating in this annual tradition. A few things I found even more interesting however, were the…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    News Flash: The Four-Year Degree Isn't What It Used To Be

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on December 19, 2013

      If you are in the millennial generation like me, you likely have been told that to find success one must go to college. You must "study hard" and get that four-year degree. Once completed, only a 9-to-5 job with healthcare, a 401k and retirement plan will do. They won't tell you this is all bunk but if you listen to Mike Rowe's December 13 interview with Reason TV you will understand exactly. Rowe's interview focused on the high cost of college on both our…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Buy It Before You Need It

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on December 13, 2013

      From time to time on this blog I have spoken of David Pratt and the Ranching for Profit Schools run by his consulting firm, Ranch Management Consultants, Inc. After attending a half-day seminar with Pratt about a month ago in Helena, Montana, I decided it was time I quit just talking about it and take action by attending one of these schools. So, in mid –January I will attend my first-ever Ranching for Profit school in Billings, Montana. I am thoroughly excited to attend this…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Score: Livestock - 1, Toads - 0.

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on December 5, 2013

      Removing livestock an grazing from public lands still seems to be the go-to solution for environmentalists when it comes to threatened wildlife species. Of course, that isn't always the answer. In the case of the Yosemite Toad, recent study results published in the November issue of PLOS One are showing restriction of livestock grazing did nothing to improve toad populations. The Yosemite Toad is a species of true toad native to the Sierra Nevada region of California. It has shown…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Aspiring To A Higher Level Of Thankfulness

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on November 27, 2013

      Gratitude has been the theme across my Facebook news feed for the past month. Some of you may recognize it as "gratitude month" in honor of the spirit of Thanksgiving Day. Each day those who participate post a status update listing the thing, person, service or other things they are grateful for that day. It's a great idea and it's no lie that as a society we focus more on our wants and desires than we do on what we really need and are grateful for. But after…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Time Is Now To Save Livestock Grazing And The Sage Grouse

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on November 21, 2013

      From what I can tell, sage grouse is the hot word across much of the Western front of the Rockies these days. In early November the Bureau of Land Management released draft revisions for land-use plans (LUPs) and environmental impact statements that affect habitat for greater sage grouse across Idaho and southwest Montana. Government officials in these states along with the other nine states involved are now rushing to establish their own management plans. The grouse is known for its…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Create Happy, Profitable Ranches With This Process

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on November 15, 2013

      People and relationships are integral to running an effective and profitable business. The foundation to this effectiveness is the relationships formed by employers and their employees. In a family ranching operation this is especially so. Increased profits will never materialize if all family members are not on the same page and working together. "You don't have a business to provide jobs. You have a business to produce results," says Dave Pratt of Ranching Profit. On…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Low-Stress Stockmanship Course Was A Mind Bender

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on November 7, 2013

      New knowledge helps us perceive the world anew and reshape our relationships to it. Last week’s stockmanship seminar in Livingston, Montana, (which I spoke of in my last blog) provided me the opportunity to do just that. This day-long course sponsored by Montana-based Western Sustainability Exchange was a jam-packed crash course in all things low-stress livestock handling and one of the best, well-structured courses of its kind I have experienced. In his presentation, guest…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    I'm Still Energized About Potential From Good Stockmanship

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on October 31, 2013

      I’ve said before and I’ll continue to say it: The beef industry still needs more stockmanship. Stockmanship, also known as low-stress livestock handling, can lead to significant cost savings for beef producers and ultimately leads to healthier, more productive cattle. In the past I’ve attended several stockmanship clinics with experts like Curt Pate of Montana and veterinarian Tom Noffsinger of Nebraska. On October 30, I attended another one of these types of clinics…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Bovine Relief Now Going to South Dakota Blizzard Area

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on October 25, 2013

    If you’ve been paying attention to what is happening in western South Dakota over the past few weeks, you’ll know that an outpouring of support and funding has been coming to the aid of the ranchers hard hit by the early October blizzard. One of these aid efforts, Heifers for S Dakota, is taking things one step further, not only donating money but also cattle. Ranchers from Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Utah and Virginia have collected livestock…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    I'm Looking For Silver Linings In South Dakota

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on October 17, 2013

      I've been wracking my brain for ideas for the past two days on what to write for this week's blog. And as much as I don't want it to, for some reason it keeps coming back to the tragedy South Dakota experienced with the blizzard just two weeks ago. It's not that I think the blizzard isn't worth talking about anymore, because it is. Some people seem to think there hasn't been enough media coverage of the event. Maybe those people just weren't looking or…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Here Are Places You Can Help Ranchers In South Dakota Blizzard

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on October 10, 2013

      The government shutdown, a freak blizzard and piles of dead cattle in South Dakota have certainly made October 2013 a month not easily forgotten. Reports I've heard suggest some ranchers have lost 20% to 50% of their cows to the blizzard. In total, nearly 60,000 cattle are lost, unaccounted for, or possibly dead. While these numbers only make up about 1.5% of South Dakota's entire cowherd, about 3.85 million head, it's a big hit for the nation's sixth-largest…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Changing Your Mind Can Be Good and Traumatic

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on October 3, 2013

      Writing about the cattle business and my past involvement in cattle industry organizations has allowed me to meet a lot of people in the business. Among this crowd, however, I have always noticed the most successful and profitable people have one key defining factor which sets them apart from the rest of the herd. Would you be interested to know what that superiority is? It is a shift in paradigms. Each one of these individuals had at one point or another opened his or her…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Forcing Cows Onto Marginal Ground Might Pay Dividends

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on September 25, 2013

      I find some of the most interesting and most useless articles on Twitter. However, a recent BEEF Magazine article from Harlan Hughes, a professor emeritus from North Dakota State University, proved to be a particularly valuable find. The article was shared via a tweet from a colleague at Clemson University, John Andrae, who in response to the article asked the question – Will economics force beef cows to cheaper feed (grazing areas)? Hughes suggested that current…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Plans Gone Awry Turn Into Blessings

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on September 19, 2013

      This past Saturday I took a trip to the Sieben Live Stock here in Montana. I was accompanied by my friends, Grahame and Roslyn Rees, who are visiting the US on vacation from New South Wales, Australia. Grahame is a teacher of low-stress stockmanship and sell-buy marketing in his home country, an enterprise he does as partner in a consulting firm known as KLR Marketing. Grahame learned much of what he knows from spending time with the late great stockman, Bud Williams…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    You Say Buy-Sell, I Say Sell-Buy

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on September 16, 2013

      I've been working on a feature article about the success of Nebraska beef producer Doug Ferguson using sell-buy livestock marketing in his stocker-backgrounder operation. I mentioned Ferguson in last weeks' blog. As I often do when writing, I went to social media to get feedback from others on the topic. I find this strategy useful because many times I get some really good comments which give me new ideas and inspiration for writing. This topic however, didn't…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Are We Raising Cattle Or Beef?

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on September 5, 2013

      Cattle versus beef … what's the difference? You would think the answer should be obvious. Cattle are not walking hamburgers. Beef patties do not moo. Ranchers raise cattle. Packers and meat processors turn the animal into beef. So then why is it that some ranchers call themselves "cattle producers" and others "beef producers?" My friend Doug Ferguson, who I have written about from time to time on this blog, says the industry suffers from…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Green-Grass Calving Great For Heifers, Too

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on August 30, 2013

      The Padlock Ranch's change to a late-spring calving season brought about some unexpected benefits for the ranch, particularly with replacement heifers. The decision was made because of management's desire to graze the cow herd more throughout the year and feed less, says Wayne Fahsholtz, ranch CEO and President. Typically, replacement heifers bred to calve in January-February require higher quality hay and additional energy feed as cold winter weather requires…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Calving On Green Grass: Another Ranch Shares Its Story

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on August 22, 2013

    University research has made it hard to deny the economic benefits of green-grass calving when compared to the higher costs of winter calving (read here and here). But to get a more intimate feel for a topic such as this, it's probably best to talk to the producers actually making the management changes and implementing them on their own ranches. One such ranch which made the switch to calving in a milder season of the year is the Padlock Ranch in Ranchester, Wyoming. Wayne…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Coming Soon: A Chance To Learn The Best

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on August 17, 2013

      Find people who are the best at what they do and learn from them. That's a motto we all should incorporate into our lives when trying to develop a skill or learn as much as we can about a new topic. My friend, Chris Stelzer, who I've talked about in the past on this blog (here and here), is someone who is doing just that. I first came across Stelzer on Twitter. He was tweeting from the handle @AgInsights and sharing information on a lot of grazing and sustainable…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Cattle And Trout Can Be Friends

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on August 8, 2013

      Any grazier worth his salt knows that grazing is a delicate tool – one that when done well can have tremendous benefits for land. However, done improperly grazing and specifically overgrazing can have harmful effects on the environment, bringing about such things as increased weed pressure and erosion. Last week I touched on grazing management as it pertains to riparian areas. This was mainly brought about by the frequent amount of time I've been spending on Montana…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Grazing Can Make Riparian Areas Better Or Worse

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on August 2, 2013

      I have been spending a lot of time in and near rivers and streams this summer and have seen a lot of variation in the condition of the riparian areas. Some of that time has been during visits to ranches which graze cattle in riparian areas, some of which include viable trout streams. Mostly it's been during one of the many trips I have made to rivers and streams here in southwest Montana to get my fly-fishing fix. Tuesday and Wednesday of this week I floated with a friend…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Wild Livestock? Don't Blame The Cattle !

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on July 25, 2013

      If you have read some of my recent blogs you know I am a strong advocate for learning and using low-stress stockmanship methods when handling cattle. Three examples of these blogs are here, here and here. I firmly believe success in cattle handling has more to do with having the right skills than it will ever have to do with the right facilities. Granted however, good facilities go a long way in making handling cattle a much safer and more enjoyable process. However, the…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Are we perfecting our means and confusing our aims?

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on July 19, 2013

      Ranching is a business reliant on natural processes and principles to make a profit.  Everything we do relies on a few very basic natural processes – photosynthesis, transpiration, evaporation, gravity, soil microbial life and herbivory by grazing animals, just to name a few. As I've said before, when you get right down to it, ranchers ultimately are in the solar energy business. Those who can most effectively and efficiently maximize their land’s ability…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Bison Study Suggests Cattle Would Do Poorly In A Warmer Climate

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on July 11, 2013

    Large grazing animals always did and still do play an important role in the ecology of grasslands. Native grasses and forbs on grasslands and rangelands across the globe evolved in the presence of large herds of wild ungulates like pronghorn, elk, deer and bison. Animal impact, such as hoof action, from large grazers helps to increase water and nutrient cycling. In turn, that has significant effects on forage production, species composition of plant communities and forage…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    We All Have The Right To Our Opinions And Production Methods

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on June 27, 2013

      Choices, diversity, tolerance – these are all things many in the agricultural advocacy movement tell us we must embrace, celebrate even, in order for our industry to "feed the world" and to curb misunderstanding of production practices by the general public. However, it seems to me that this perspective sets a double standard for customers when it comes to food. They say farmers and ranchers should celebrate food choices and be happy to provide these choices…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Livestock Grazing And Activist Intervention Still At Loggerheads

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on June 20, 2013

      Grazing rights are a hot topic of late, from the Grazing Improvement Act currently awaiting consideration in the House of Representatives to the protests of Wyoming ranchers on the intervention of environmental activists in their grazing permit renewal process. There is a lot of talk from all parties involved on how livestock grazing should be managed on our nation's public lands. The Grazing Improvement Act, if passed, would bring some beneficial changes to the public…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    These Beef Production Technologies Look Like Keepers

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on June 13, 2013

      I was recently asked to come up with a list of current and emerging technologies which I think are or will be important as we go forward into the future of rangeland and grazing management. While there is a plethora to choose from, a few select technologies that are in current use or being researched stood out to me as worthy of discussion. Of the technological advancements we have seen in the past 30 years or so, geographic information systems (GIS) and global positioning…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Personal Growth Costs Me One Friendship But Gains Others

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on June 6, 2013

      I was having trouble sleeping the other night. I woke up around 4 a.m., my mind racing. This isn’t unusual for me. As a creative thinker and writer, I always seem to have ideas whizzing through my brain, often at times most might view as inconvenient, like 4 in the morning. In particular, one thing had been weighing heavy on my mind the week prior. I had not heard from someone I thought of as a close friend for quite some time. I suspected it may have been due to something…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Veterinarian Says Stockmanship Can Save Thousands Of Dollars

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on May 25, 2013

      My recent travels to southeastern Wyoming for the Integrated Ranch Management Symposium gave me the opportunity to attend a one-day stockmanship clinic with low-stress livestock handling expert and consulting feedyard veterinarian, Tom Noffsinger of Benkelman, Nebraska. During his talk Noffsinger emphasized that "stockmanship is the foundation of animal health, performance and profit potential." As caregivers of livestock, the way we treat the animals under our care…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Time To Learn Your Unfair Advantage And Exploit It

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on May 16, 2013

      What is your unfair advantage? Do you even know what I am talking about when I say unfair advantage? If not, I think it's such an important concept that you should learn it right now. We all have one but most of us either don’t know what it is, or if we do it is not used effectively to our advantage. Some of us think we know what it is but we couldn’t be farther from the truth. A couple weeks ago I discussed how Oswald Cattle Company’s unfair…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Montana Livestock Herding Trial Suggests Viable Predator Control

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on May 9, 2013

      The mention of wildlife conservation normally does not bring to mind grazing management or use of livestock but it should. Most times, when conservation is the focus, removal of grazing livestock from land is the solution proposed by most environmental or wildlife-centric groups. It is refreshing in light of this negative trend that there are groups like Keystone Conservation, a Bozeman, Montana-based organization. Together with its collaborators, Keystone is going against…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Colorado Ranchers Say Low-Input Path Easiest To Walk

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on May 2, 2013

      During my recent visit to Colorado I had the opportunity to talk with and ask questions of several progressive, profitable ranchers implementing low-input management on their operations. Steve Oswald, a soft-spoken, forward-thinking rancher, and his wife, Nancy, were among this group. Their outfit, Oswald Cattle Company, in Cotopaxi, Colorado runs around 150 head of cattle on about 11,500 acres of private and public lands near the Sangre de Cristo Mountains southern Colorado…

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  • Jesse Bussard

    Colorado Bull Sale Reminds Me Profit Drives Beef Industry

    Fodder for Thought

     by Jesse Bussard
     on April 26, 2013

      Kit Pharo is known for saying, "As long as you are doing what everyone else is doing you will never be above average.” The Cheyenne Wells, Colorado, seedstock producer also says his purpose in managing Pharo Cattle Company (PCC) is to be different for the right reasons. These statements rang true in my experiences earlier this week as I attended the Pharo Cattle Company’s spring bull sale in Burlington, CO. There I watched 225 bulls, all developed without…

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