Five Habits of a Successful Feedyard Entrepreneur

Starting a cattle operation is no easy task. There’s a lot of hard work involved in any job within the cattle business, but what truly sets the successful feedyard owners apart? Below are a few of the top habits that leaders in the cattle-feeding business have identified as influencers in their success.

1. They recognize opportunities.
For example, Cattle Empire’s Paul Brown saw the potential for a cattle operation in western Kansas. Drawn by the allure of good soil, he started a business which now consists of five feedyards across southwest Kansas with a total one-time capacity of 229,000 head of cattle. The ability to see the potential in something – whether it be good soil or a new feeding method – has led many to great success in the cattle business.

2. They treat their employees well.
Employee retention is one of the most difficult aspects of business management. Leaders who do this well understand the importance of choosing and keeping the right employees. In his acceptance speech at the 2016 Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame (CFHOF), Brown said, “Treat others as you want to be treated – I appreciate being in an industry where that is recognized.” Successful businesses are able to keep long-term employees and put the right minds in the right positions, because they value their employees.

3. They know when to save and when to expand.
2016 CFHOF Inductee, Bob Gottsch, Gottsch Cattle Company, fed other people’s cattle until he could afford his own. Gottsch expanded his Elkhorn feedlot through the years and added a location in Red Cloud, Nebraska, where he had 42,000 head. Through the years he partnered with other individuals and eventually opened a 40,000-head in Juniata, Nebraska, and a Kansas feedyard that exceeded 50,000 head. Today, this feedyard continues to rank among the 10 largest feedyards year after year.

4. They’re optimistic.
As with most businesses in agriculture, much of your day-to-day success depends on the weather and other elements. When you’re looking at several days of triple-digit heat indices, it’s difficult to be optimistic.  2014 CFHOF Inductee, Roy Dinsdale, Dinsdale Brothers Inc., said, “It’s a challenge every year between Mother Nature and me. Fortunately, we’ve won just a few more than Mother Nature.” Being able to recognize that you can’t move or change some factors – and remaining positive in spite of that – makes it easier to be successful in this business.

5. They’re involved with the industry and their community.
From the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association to local FFA chapters, successful entrepreneurs understand the importance of involvement with the community and the industry. These entrepreneurs see the significance of working with the next generation and staying connected with others who share common goals. You’ll find successful cattle producers serving as chairmen, officers or active members within these organizations.