On the Farm, Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst

Husker Home Place

UNL Extension educator in Cherry County, Jay Jenkins, provides useful insight for feeding a beef herd through the winter.

Published on: October 22, 2012

I don’t know what it’s like around your place, but on my farm, things don’t always go the way I had planned. In fact, it might be said that things usually go poorly. My biochemistry professor in college perhaps said it best when he observed, “In nature, things naturally go to heck,” or something like that. Point well taken.

Jay Jenkins, who is the UNL Extension educator in Cherry County, placed a unique, but quite useful spin on that message in his Monday Extension Report back on October 8. In his insightful report, Jenkins worried openly about producers who believe they will have enough feed to keep their herds intact through the winter months this season. But he noted that several things would have to work out perfectly for these best-laid plans to pan out.

WINTER FEEDING PLANS: When it comes to winter feeding, dont expect things to go as planned.
WINTER FEEDING PLANS: When it comes to winter feeding, don't expect things to go as planned.

He said in his blog that everything would have to go just right, like having a winter open enough to graze all of the cornstalks producers have lined up, having a winter that isn’t too cold, having a normal spring turnout date (which is a tough challenge considering the drought we’ve been facing), and having enough feed through it all.

There are a lot of “ifs” in those plans. Jenkins just asks producers to look realistically at their feed needs and ask themselves what they will do if some of these assumptions fall apart along the way. He wants producers to be prepared for the worst case scenarios, along with the best case situations.

At my place, I don’t even consider the best case scenario. I assume the worst, and plan accordingly. Some folks would say that I am pessimistic. Actually, the opposite is true. But, after making decisions over the years that were based on best case scenarios and having them work out badly, I have become very conservative in my planning.

There is nothing wrong with being hopeful. I think in agriculture it is a necessity. But reality always strikes, and we should be prepared for it. Maybe that means lining up more cornstalks than we need. Maybe it means securing extra feed. Maybe it means culling harshly. Nothing beats a foolproof plan.

Here is Jay Jenkins' complete Oct. 8 Monday Extension report. 

Be sure to watch www.nebraskafarmer.com and read our October print issue of Nebraska Farmer for news, information and tips on meeting the challenges of drought. Your best online resource for drought information is the Farm Progress drought site at www.DatelineDrought.com.