Columnist David Zirnhelt discusses an upcoming workshop for people in the cattle industry. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

COLUMN: Ranching as life long learning and making a difference

David Zirnhelt’s weekly column for the Tribune: Ranch Musings

David Zirnhelt

Special to the Tribune

As I write this I know I am going to miss an important webinar (online presentation) by the Beef Cattle Research Council on the topic of avoiding reproductive wrecks.

Some wise people say reproductive performance is the major factor determining profitability in the cattle industry.

You can’t sell them if they don’t exist. A fat open cow may not bring much in the sale ring; maybe a bit more if you can produce ground beef and sell it.

Now something else is happening on this same day. Our local association of cattle producers is hosting another workshop with a presenter from the Prairies.

The topic is succession planning, that is, how do you plan for someone to take over your ranching business. The idea of this topic came from members of the association.

Probably no one has done this before for their own ranch business. If you haven’t it helps to know how to do it well. The older we are, chances are, that we learn more slowly and the next generation will likely be ahead of us.

So the fast learners can help us.

Kelly Sidoryk, a rancher herself, will be presenting. She also presented a short seminar on holistic planning for ranching at the Thompson Rivers University Ranching program earlier this week.

I mention this because there are many topics to keep up on and sometimes the best way is an “in person” presentation where the group which is learning can discuss topics face-to- face with the presenter.

Actually, if a person wants to learn something new it is easy just to do it close to home. Some of our industry leaders and the local TRU campus are offering these opportunities for us.

We need to support these by attending when we can. It is a chance to see neighbours as well. I learn from neighbours and value their experience and expertise.

The second part of this topic is leadership in our industry and community associations, which exist to advance our interests and hopefully the public interest.

In the ranching program at TRU students are encouraged to work with other students and local organizations like the Stampede Association to put on events for the public. Some of these are just fun but others are serious learning opportunities.

Elections are coming up at the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association AGM on Feb 16. Elections are also underway for the various committees and Board of Directors of the BC Cattlemen’s Association.

These are both good ways to make a difference for the better and to keep on learning yourself. I like to remember that an active mind might just hold off the aging of that mind!

There are learning opportunities; take advantage of them. Go to the Beef Cattle Research Council website and check it out. Type Beef Council Research Council into your browser.

David Zirnhelt is a rancher and member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association. He is also chair of the Advisory Committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at TRU.

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