This past month we had a dog go missing from my family’s ranch while I was at a college football game with my parents. Bear, our male Australian Shepherd, occasionally runs to my brother’s house about a mile away when the weather changes. On this Saturday it was overcast with some light drizzle, so we just assumed he made a quick run down the road and was sleeping on my brother’s porch. I drove over that night and much to my frustration didn’t find Bear where I hoped.
The next day after doing chores and seeing no sign of Bear, we heard from our deer hunters they had seen our dog three miles north of the ranch. We drove around asking neighbors if they had seen the dog and had no luck. I posted on Facebook asking for help on Sunday and immediately got a message that a dog fitting Bear’s description was sighted at the local bar 15 miles to the northeast.
I went to the bar and found out the dog was actually a female Aussie and the owner was even there to confirm. My search ended that night because I needed to get back to Kansas City for work the next day. Fortunately, I got a call the next morning from my mom saying one of our landlords had picked up Bear. The landlord had been watching the dog for two days and luckily thought to call my dad, even though we had no form of identification on the dog. The lesson we took from losing Bear for a few days was dog tags might be a good investment, along with a microchip.
For dairy producers, a lost dog is a good analogy for lost profit. You do your best to follow your instincts and make the right decisions, hopefully finding your dog quicker (i.e. profitability). Maybe you can keep the dog in a pen (i.e. lock in a profit through hedging) or put some tags on the dog to help locate it quicker (i.e. utilize benchmarking).
The market outlook for dairy (page 26) looks to be a mixed bag. It makes managing finances all that more important to stay in the black. Benchmarking should be a management tool used to help measure success or pinpoint areas that need improvement on the farm. In the growing milk shed of Southwest Kansas, dairy producers are now able to ship their milk to a local processor after decades of transporting it 300 miles or more (page 24). A centrally located powder plant is helping reduce transport costs and should bring more profitability with a product ready for export.
Hopefully you can keep from losing a dog—and profit.
Note: This story appears in the December 2017 magazine issue of Dairy Herd Management.