Farm Talk

August 20, 2013

Topics for all issues covered at women’s ag conference

Danielle Beard

Parsons, Kansas — No stone was left unturned when it came to relevant topics during the Oklahoma Women in Ag and Small Business Conference held in Oklahoma City recently.

The goal of the two day annual conference was to assist women and producers with risk management for their agriculture enterprises or small businesses.

During the conference a variety of sessions were offered focusing on high-profile topics about agriculture, alternative enterprises and business and finance.

One session during the event was solely about cattle handling. Even though this is not a foreign subject to many women in agriculture, Michelle Calvo-Lorenzo from Oklahoma State University’s Department of Animal Science, offered insight providing a positive experience for both the animal and the handler.

“Positive cattle handling experiences and skills start with responsibility, education, training, evaluation, reward and by informing others,” she began.

According to Calvo-Lorenzo, the way cattle view the world is due to the fact they are a prey species.

“Due to the placement of eyes on their head, cattle have a wide field of peripheral vision. In turn this gives them a 330° view,” she continued.

Because of this prey instinct and wide-framed vision, cattle want to see the handler. It is also hard-wired into them to want to go around a person in order to maintain their personal space.

Since cattle are herd animals, they want to go with (or will go) with other cattle. Calvo-Lorenzo explained it is important for handlers to recognize all these characteristics and take advantage of their natural behavior when moving cattle.

When moving cattle, “stay out of the blind spots and stay in their line of sight.”

“Attempting to move cattle while standing in their blind spot frightens them and can become dangerous for you,” she explained. ”If they can’t see, cattle will turn their heads to look at you, which is inefficient when trying to move them forward,”

Calvo-Lorenzo suggests using a “pressure and release system” to move cattle.

“This requires the handler to penetrate the edge of the flight zone and then retreat when the animal moves in the desired direction,” she said. “In turn, it is like a reward to cattle for doing what you asked of them.”

This technique works by stimulating a little anxiety in cattle, not fear, creating a low stress environment, Calvo-Lorenzo explained.

“By appropriately handling cattle, you will minimize handling impact to health, reproduction and productivity. This method also reduces risk of injury to handler or cattle and is more efficient and enjoyable for the people involved,” she concluded.

Empowering women to solve issues and concerns of importance to them, their families and communities was the main focus of the event. While some topics such as cattle handling were in place to enhance current skills, others such as family estate planning, helped those in attendance get the answers to difficult to think about questions.

Dr. Charlie Griffin, a family relations and communications counselor, Shannon Ferrell, a legal and estate planning lawyer and Karen Krehbiel of Krehbiel Farms, LLC, formed a panel for a business succession discussion. All three weighed in with advice from transitioning family businesses to the next generation to having “the talk.”

“Statistically only 30 percent of family business have a chance of succeeding after the first generation takes over, 12 percent for the second generation and only 3 percent have a chance of being successful after the third generation,” Ferrell began.

“Another shocking statistic is, over 80 percent of the widowed are female. This is why I stress the importance of transition planning,” he continued.

Three key points in planning he suggested were inventory, listening and equality vs. equity.

“To save money and steps, before going to a lawyer, take inventory. Write everything down. Also, listen to your children’s aspirations, take in account if you have one kid who plans on farming and another who has different future career plans,” he said. “When it comes to transition planning, equality and equity aren’t necessarily the same thing.”

According to Griffin, it is important to have a plan in place if the unimaginable is to happen.

“Talk to each other, identify in advance who can make management decisions.”

“It is important to have this discussion as a family, but not at the dinner table or during the holidays,” he stressed.

Krehbiel explained from her own experience having a network of people you can trust is key.

“Find a good accountant and lawyer you can trust and build a relationship with them,” she said.

This one-stop shop for building awareness and skills was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service and numerous others, enabling low-costs for participants.

For additional information visit http://www.OKWomeninAgand or by contacting Damona Doye at damona. or Jennifer Jensen at jennifer.jensen@okstate .edu. £