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Is there a rhythm in cattle marketing for success?

Time in the inventory pyramid tells a story.

Doug Ferguson

June 7, 2024

7 Min Read
There are a lot of components to cattle marketing including time and a rhythm.
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This week I am going to revisit the “Inventory Pyramid” that I created and focus on the red outline. This line represents time, and as we all know time changes things. The only enduring thing in the natural world is change.  I am going to narrow my focus to how time changes the individual.

The universal Law of Gender means that time is required to pass before something changes. What readers are most familiar with is nine months is required to pass for a cow to replicate herself. It also requires time for an undervalued animal to become overvalued. 

The passing of time is also required for the law of Law of Rhythm. This is the tide goes out, then later the tide comes back in. Much has been written about this immutable law over the years focusing on cattle market cycles.

Repeats in cattle market

When we see something happen for the first time, for example the market is paying out high prices, we are obsessed with how that happened and try to figure out why or how the market got there. Time marches on and the market goes down and then ten years later it hits a high price point again.

After this repeats again one more time we as humans zero in on it. The human brain is comfortable with rhythm, it gets programmed into us when we are still in the womb from our mother’s routine habits.

Seeing this cycle of high price points rhythmically play out over time will create thought habits. I won’t go into much depth on those, but I do want to point out that these thought habits are split into positive and negative. When we listen to people’s comments about the cattle business, from people who raise cattle, it is overwhelmingly clear the negative thought pattern is the dominate one in the culture.

Many will say no one can make money raising cattle, or that it is a break-even proposition at best. Whatever the predominate thought is, is what will manifest itself. This feedback then only solidifies the thought habit.

Learn from older generations

Previous generations have been through these cycles, and they have discussed and written about them.  People may age (mid-forties) and younger take cues from this older generation and we believe in the ten-year cycle before we ever experience one.

I am going to pause here for a moment and define some things.  According to the dictionary, the word “experience” means direct observation of or participation in events as a basis for knowledge.  The older generation has that, assuming they owned cattle when the event happened. They then tell the younger generation stories, share information and opinions of that event.  We call this secondhand experience, where we learn directly from other people rather than directly from our own experiences.

As I get back into the topic keep this quote from Aldous Huxley in mind “Experience is not what happens to a man, it is a man does with what happens to him.”

Experience = wisdom

Time then, is the seasoning method that changes experience into wisdom. Through the passing of time we can think, thinking is required here, our way to wisdom. For this reason, wisdom cannot be passed on from one generation to the next except through the passing of time. 

When we were young some old timer told us the same story over and over about something that happened. Then one day we find ourselves in a similar situation.  If we were paying attention and noticed the leading indicators, we have a lightbulb moment when we realize this is what the old timer was talking about. We then switch from having secondhand knowledge to firsthand experience. Once we had that lightbulb moment we changed. That experience is now locked in our brain, and we own it.

Goals in life

Because thinking is required, not many people will gain wisdom. This will only come to those who are paying attention and have a direct aim or goal in life for what they are doing.  This is why the A students in school end up working for the C students or even the dropouts. If the C student has a direct aim and a goal backed by the desire to accomplish that goal, that person will learn and do the things necessary to accomplish that goal and that person will gain wisdom along the way.

Whereas the A student focused on the wrong thing which was remembering facts to regurgitate on a test.  This becomes their thinking pattern because they were rewarded for it and from there forward, they are always seeking knowledge but have no clue how to apply it in the real world.  You see we do not have an education problem; we have an application problem. Therefore, knowledge is not wisdom.  If it was, gaining knowledge would guarantee positive outcomes and success.

Gain the knowledge

Since time and thinking are requirements, this is why young people do not have wisdom.  Those early years, we spend our time gathering knowledge, and with a definite purpose we can gain wisdom.  This is why young people shouldn’t take a job for the money.  They should instead take jobs to learn and as a means to an end.

Secondhand knowledge can and should be great.  It is the whole point of having a mentor, we do not need to relearn everything by making the same mistakes.  Yet again it is the thinking thing that is a problem.  Some of these 70-year-olds boast of having over 50 years of experience.  Some need to be called to the task and face the music. 

What they really have is two years of experience, repeated 25 times each. And the only reason they have the second year of experience is because they were forced to change. This is why the line of “we’ve always done it this way” is so dangerous. 

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Knowledge tested through time is always superior to newly acquired knowledge. Time gives definiteness and dependability.  Sell/buy marketing is the oldest form of marketing I am aware of.  I have traced it back to when JC Penny started his stores, and it is probably why Walmart and gas station chains use it.  We can never be sure of untested knowledge.  I have witnessed in the last few years the devastation this can cause. 

Some people have learned theory and gained knowledge from someone who only has it secondhand and tried to pass it along.  This is why if you want to learn something I strongly recommend you learn it from someone who believes in it enough to actually do it.  Unfortunately, that requirement alone just let a majority of industry experts out the door.

Is it like 2014?

When the market does something big people ask me my thoughts on it.  For example, right now the market is high and people ask me if it is like 2014.  Will it lead to a crash like the one in the fall of 2015?  I always answer “No.” Even though I have a solid opinion on that I have failed to offer a good explanation to back it up.  Today it is clear to me that the reason I never think this time is like the last time is because I have changed.

I also want to point this out to you all.  Activity is not experience.  A young person asked me how many cattle I turn in a year and she was trying to make a comparison between me and another rancher that is decades older than me.  When it was discovered that I will turn and market more cattle than the senior rancher the young lady exclaimed that she thought I had more experience than the older rancher.  I know what this senior rancher has been through and that rancher has more experience than I do because of those events and decisions that had to be made.  That is why I told her no I do not have more experience, I have more activity which is helping me gain experience, which I now realize is helping me gain wisdom.

The pyramid

That redline around the outside of the pyramid changes everything.  Invest in yourself and the most important thing, which is you, will change for the better and then everything else inside the pyramid will change for the better as well. I can help with this.  I have 3 schools coming up later this year.  One is in August in Idaho.  Then again in November and December in Nebraska.

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