In early 2000, we formed an informal club to facilitate creating healthier ranch ecosystems while lowering costs and increasing profits with a group of North Texas – Southern Oklahoma ranchers. A number of ranchers in the region have successfully transitioned from the traditional “maximum production paradigm” to the “low-cost, sustainable paradigm”. However, problems continue to arise for experienced people and anyone trying something new needs someone to discuss things with to prevent avoidable problems. In addition, traditional neighbors are often hostile towards those who try new things, so having sympathetic people with prior experience to talk to can make the difference between success and failure in a new venture.
We gather regularly on different ranches to learn from each other, identify areas where improvements could be made and develop a support group to anyone serious about operating in, or changing to, the low-cost, sustainable paradigm. At each ranch we learn about how the transition was made from traditional management, the successes achieved and the lessons learned along the way. We tour the ranch to view the general progress made and visit any areas where specific problems exist. After a brief tour of the ranch we had a think tank session to get diverse opinions from the membership on the best options to achieve the new owners goals. The usual agenda is to meet at 10 a.m. and tour the ranch till lunchtime. After a brown bag lunch we have a formal workshop where we break into groups of 4-6 to consider for the host owner’s enterprise: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Problems or Threats and listing activities that should be Stopped, Started, Continued or Changed, all in relation to the goals stated by the owner/operator. These are all written down on a flip chart that is left with the owner/operator. A record is kept of this document.
Example of Grazing Club SWOT analysis