Could Cooperative Breeding Work for You?

If you find yourself at an impasse, contemplating the viability of your future as a seedstock producer, you are not alone. 

Are there operational struggles or adjustments on the horizon that might affect your decision to continue competing as a seedstock enterprise? Do you need additional resources of land, capital, labor or genetics to expand? Do you lack the time to adequately address all areas of a seedstock business? Do you desire to simply specialize in one area of production? Or, are you simply ready to slow down and create more time for other things? If you find yourself pondering any of these topics, here are some ideas to consider.

Doing an internal audit of your program to determine the sustainability of remaining an independent producer is a good place to start. This process will make your direction transparent.

If your greatest passion is working with cattle, not running a business, there is an alternative. Becoming a cooperative producer for a larger seedstock business might be an option. 

A successful cooperative relationship has mutual competitive advantages. It might allow you to play to your areas of strength. Thrive by focusing solely on the production of high-value, problem-free cattle while leveraging the benefits that accompany a sizable business infrastructure. 

The aggregation of large numbers of similar genetic packages enables a cooperative to service breeders of all sizes, as well as, take direct advantage of increased efficiencies in cost of production. Alone, you might never be able to reach the critical mass needed to achieve such benefits. 

Large seedstock programs have the ability to invest more capital toward labor, marketing, branding and service efforts. The ability to offer a streamlined, reliable product that comes with full spectrum services and perpetual customer connectivity are hard to beat and almost impossible to achieve alone. 

For a symbiotic relationship to take root, you must first understand and embrace the role you will play. You will now be a member of a team that represents something bigger than you. Your ranch brand, no matter how old or iconic, might no longer be a major component to the success of the larger brand moving forward. If individual recognition and accolades are important to your cattle experience, a cooperative scenario might not be a good fit. 

Great teams have a common vision as well as a clear understanding of each member’s role within the group. They are not just a collection of individuals, but cohesive units with complementary parts dependent on selflessness and accountability. You must come to terms with leaving individuality behind. Often, this is the most difficult process to master; yet, it is the first hurdle to overcome on the path toward a successful cooperative experience. 

If you are comfortable with being a member on the bus and not the driver, a cooperative seedstock model might be just what is needed. Simply breeding good cattle might not be enough to remain highly competitive within the beef seedstock industry.