A Personal Message From Ted Slanker
This web site can be dangerous to one's mental health. Some cattlemen say it's real disturbing. Of course, there are others who say it's a breath of fresh air in a world polluted with upside-down thinking. For a fact, too many cow-calf producers have been in smog-filled rooms for so long they can't recognize the fresh air. That's why I posted this “Notice” page. It's to warn everyone that they are about to experience something that's “off the wall” by today's beef production standards.
I am a student of the cattle business. I try to study all aspects of the business and fit them together to make a better whole. I believe in the “Big Picture” approach. I like to discover and understand the basic principles that govern the way things are and the way they will be.
Over the years I've discovered that what I used to believe was the best way to do some things was not always the best way. Each time that happened, I felt I had to change. When I did, I also had to admit to myself and others that what I had recommended and practiced before didn't work as well as what I had “just” learned. Admitting that what I used to call gospel was hearsay has always been a tough pill to swallow. But I've kept at it and, lo and behold, I keep running across new ideas and new approaches that improve my genetics, my forage production, my beef quality, my health, my environment, my bottom line, and just about everything else one can imagine.
We're born dumb and it takes a long time to know something. For a fact, no one can “know it all.” I've discovered, painfully at times, that the more I learn, the more I learn there is more to learn.
So, not only does this web site advertise my bulls and my consulting service, it also offers up a few “different” management practices. Some of the practices I talk and write about plus recommend to folks in my consulting business are practices I once sneered at as ridiculous and stupid. Obviously, I had to eat my words. That's happened so many times over the years I'm getting a little gun shy about stonewalling “different” ideas.
By and large, most cattle breeders and commercial producers are not students of the cattle business. They don't understand the economics of the business. They don't care that much about genetics and proper selection. So when they come here to shop for bulls they see and hear things they've never heard before. So rather than "take a chance" they leave and buy their bulls from more "conventional" folks like them who pamper their cattle and make sure the critters always have more than enough of whatever.
The conventional folks in the smog think my management approach is strange when they compare what I say and do with what they hear at the coffee shop and what they see over on their neighbor's place.
I don't go to the coffee shop, and I'm not their neighbor.
They also compare me unfavorably with “experts” who know a lot about one thing, but nothing about the broad cross-section of practices and fundamental principals required to be successful raising cattle.
I can't raise cattle based on one underlying fundamental body of knowledge. I must use a “Big Picture” approach.
Most of their “experts” are also trying to get cow-calf producers to raise cattle that make money for the feedlot owners and packers. Unfortunately, those cattle won't work for cow-calf producers and they won't produce the best eating beef. I happen to be a cow-calf producer and I sell beef. What else need I say?
Fads and Myths
People follow fads. In 1940 the cattle were way too small. Today the cattle are way too big and inefficient. The money and the quality are somewhere in the middle. And, for a fact, most producers view the cattle business as a hobby. They're not following the money--even when they say they are. So they really don't care about the things I believe are most important. On the other hand, there are many of us who are serious cattlemen. Yet there were times we were “misled” in the past. We were taken in by fads and myths. Sometimes we did it to ourselves. Other times we were conned by those more concerned with their interests than they were with our interests.
So, as you go about your daily chores, ask yourself some questions.
Why should my cows calve in the winter, months before the deer fawn?
How efficient are smaller cattle? Will a herd of smaller cows really produce more beef per acre per year for any given ranch?
How does one retain his calves in a stocker program without reducing his cow numbers?
What's the angle on raising beef without any hay, grain, cubes, or protein licks?
What are the differences in the health of bulls fed grain and those that are 100% forage raised? Do the fatty acid imbalances that are causing many of our national health problems (health is Americans’ number one concern) work the same in cattle as they do in people? If so, are there advantages in raising grass-fed beef? We know there are because in addition to raising bulls we market grass-fed beef nationwide.
Is there something to gain from purchasing genetics from breeders who “performance test” their cattle in a tougher environment and with more stringent standards than you? How about if they also have experience marketing their genetics as grass-fed beef to the American consumer? In other words, if your seedstock breeder feeds lots of grain and you don't, if he doesn't eat and market his own beef, is he covering up faults you'll uncover?
Here's the best question: “For whom am I working?”
There are two possible answers to that last question. It can be either “Myself,” or “The owners of feedlots and packers.”
Are these questions fresh air or smog? I believe they clear the air and open the door for radical change. If you put your mind to it, you'll be able to add a lot of questions to my short list. Once you start, who knows where your questions will lead? But there's one thing for sure, if by working on my management practices I've been able to raise more beef at a lower cost, you can too.
I can go on and on, but I think you've got the point by now. And most likely you didn't visit this site to read about management. As for bulls, I've got some pretty good bulls for sale. They were raised 100% on grass. They have good performance numbers. They'll work for you.
Come and visit and let's create a partnership that builds for the future--your future and ours.