Collaboration as a Means to Success

Beef producers pride themselves on their independent nature. Compared to other industries, beef producers have control of many decisions. However, the beef industry is more segmented than most industries. This segmentation has led to distrust between the various links in the beef supply chain.

When producers decide to work together, the end result is usually that they all succeed. Simply sharing a truck to minimize transportation costs is collaboration. Neighbours may decide to share a bull. Combining resources provides an opportunity to buy a better bull. The bull sires many more calves than if only working in one herd and is likely kept longer. Ultimately more value is captured.

One good example of successful collaborations has been the special vaccinated calf sales. A group of producers have worked with their veterinarians to establish a health protocol for all of the consignors to follow. This protocol may just be the same vaccinations, but in many cases it has included more things such as:

  • age verification,
  • weaning method,
  • premise identification,
  • ration,
  • similar age and weight
  • and similar genetics

This collaboration has provided an opportunity for several small cow calf herds to offer large groups of calves to the feedlot buyers. In essence the small herds have joined together to have the same appeal as a large herd. It took agreement of several producers, a sales staff and a veterinarian(s) to offer this special sale. This would have resulted from multiple meetings and discussions. Planning, sharing ideas, adapting, building consensus and trust would all be a part of the process.

Branded beef programs are another example where a group of producers have met a set of specifications as outlined by the branded beef program. These programs may require a specific feeding program, health protocol and even common genetics. In some cases the protocol has been established by a processor with producers signing on to fulfill the requirements. In other cases, a group of producers have established a co-op or partnership to develop a program.

A value chain is an example of collaboration. This would involve a number of producers, a processor and a retailer/food service. All of the links in the value chain must have the same goal and realize that all of the partners are essential in the success of the value chain. A true value chain would share information and profit with all of the partners. Utilizing services offered by BIO and BIX can help with sharing information between partners. The information can be used to improve the product, efficiencies and consistency.

Are there collaborative opportunities that you should you pursue for mutual benefit?

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