By Aaron Berger, Nebraska Extension Educator

Give me a lever long enough … and single-handed I can move the world.

-- Archimedes

High points of leverage in a cattle production system are places where strategic inputs of time and resources potentially have impacts that are beneficial and significantly greater than the cost. The challenge in managing systems is that the areas of highest leverage may not be the most obvious.

Examples of some common points of leverage in a cattle operation include:

• Meeting protein requirements of cattle eating low quality forage through supplementation

• Design and execution of a strategic herd health management plan

• Construction of water resources and fence for implementation of a grazing system

• Evaluating equipment and labor costs per unit of production

• Monitoring moisture conditions and the timely execution of a drought plan

Obviously, this list of points of leverage is limited and could be expanded to include many additional items. 

Where are the points of leverage for your operation? Where are places where strategic investments of time and resources have the greatest potential to impact profitability and the resiliency of production systems in your operation? What management strategies or plans could you implement to position yourself to take advantage of those points of leverage?

Cattle production is a challenging business where we work with dynamic, complex, biological systems where impacts of choices or management decisions made are often distant in time and space from the initial inputs. In addition, the information needed to assess cause-effect relationships may be limited or difficult to evaluate. There is also times when circumstances beyond our control will often thwart efforts or impact points of leverage in a production system.

High points of leverage can be challenging to identify, but the process of thinking through where leverage points are is well worth the time and effort. These are places where a change in management or an input can have significant benefit to the system as a whole. 

January is a good time to reflect on the past year and plan for the year ahead. Consider taking time this year to identify points of leverage in your operation and write down strategies to position yourself to take advantage of these in the New Year. The value to your operation could be significant!