Darwin and Bernard Nissley started their cattle feeding adventure in 1983 and have been innovating their feeding and management program ever since. As the brothers took over the partnership from their father, this family affair has made it a priority to not only improve their overall operation, but to improve the efficiency of their business. The 800 head feedlot operation has used different management tools throughout the years to help them narrow in their costs which landed them a spot in this month’s customer spotlight.
Darwin and Bernie started their days shoveling feed into bushel baskets and carrying them over to the feed troughs in order to feed the cattle. Boy, have they come a long way since then! Today, instead of bushel baskets, the Nissley’s are using a private feedlot software by High Plains to manage their feeding. They put the software to work about two years ago. They toyed with the idea of making the investment for a few years, but determined that this software would take their feeding management and record keeping up a notch. Previously, the brothers had to hand enter all of their costs, feed inventories and feeding sheets onto a spreadsheet. While this had worked well for them, it was time consuming and labor intensive. “Records are very important,” Darwin states. “Keeping track of costs is very important to us and should be for all business owners.” The two decided they needed to find a tool that could help them accomplish their record keeping task. They determined they needed something that could track feed, cost of gain, average daily gain, feed conversion and close-outs in order to be successful; which they found in the High Plains software.
The brothers say, with proper record keeping, they can set goals and the High Plains software helps them do that. The software helps them to track pricing of commodities, dry matters on feeds, net energy gain, feed inventories and even compare costs from different months or years. This allows the brothers to benchmark their operation from year to year in order to see how efficient they are as producers. Why is that important? Well, Darwin stated, “the more you know about your operation, the better your business will run. Knowing costs, shrink in your bunker and how effective your ration is all helps determine your profit.” Darwin and Bernie also stated it helps them know what cattle to buy on the next round. Record keeping through the software keeps track of all their cattle data by buyer. This lets them evaluate how efficient the cattle were and how they gained previously to help make the decision whether to buy from that producer again or not.
So, the big question on everyone’s mind: was the software worth the investment? Darwin says, “It depends how much improvement is worth to you and your operation.” The brothers have both seen a definite return on their investment because it allowed them to really dive deep and pin point the little aspects that improved efficiency and took their business up one step higher. They do caution that you must evaluate your business before investing. Is this tool right for you and will you be using it to its full potential?
Overall, the brothers agree mostly on one thing, record keeping and knowing your cost of production is the key to running your business. Whatever tools that can help you do that effectively will greatly benefit your business. The High Plains software could be a valuable asset to your business, but you need to evaluate your situation and determine if it is the right choice to make you more successful. As the Nissley brothers say, “1983 was the start of their cattle feeding adventure and it’s still an adventure today.”
by Angela Breneman, Calf Specialist