Jersey City Steaks, unlike their counterparts – the Kansas City Strips and New York Strips – are even tastier, to the point of falling into the category of gourmet. This isn’t such a known fact, even among meat connoisseurs.
For these reasons, there probably has never been an attempt to develop a meat market. Quite by chance, I got briefly acquainted with a gentleman from Iowa that is feeding a few Jersey steers. Dan Wendt is his name; one of the finest people I’ve ever met. After a brief introduction from a hospital bed, we began sharing a few life experiences, only to find that we shared a common interest in livestock. I questioned his selection of cattle, only to find out that it was just a hobby that he enjoyed coming home to after a hard day’s work at Mayo. Dan went on to tell me that it wasn’t about the money; it was more about the great taste of the meat—a sentiment that was shared by family, friends, and acquaintances alike.
Having had first-hand experience, in an advisory capacity, I knew Dan was telling me the truth. I went on to share with him the reasons why Jersey meat tastes better than the conventional beef breeds. He was eager to know more, and had no idea that the same characteristics that cause Jersey milk to be superior, is also true for their meat. The rich creamy butter fat converts into abundant marbling in the meat.
Marbling is the most important consideration in determining quality and grade of beef, and is often the limiting factor in the very best of conventional beef breeds. It is probably the only thing that Jersey beef has going for it, but it’s the most important. In fact, the term ‘abundant’ is a descriptive word used to define the amount of marbling required for all prime grades of beef. Jersey beef will never grade prime in the conventional sense, as the muscling or conformation characteristics will never be adequate enough to comply with USDA grading standards. It also can’t compete with the cost of production of other breeds. So why even attempt to feed a Jersey steer? This is a question that has already been answered by profitable feedlot operations-—they don’t!
It’s all about the taste and the added value of a gourmet product. Because of the rich, abundant marbling, it is the most flavorful, juicy, tender beef available to top line markets and 5-star restaurants. When finished at a young age, the fine-textured red-colored lean also contributes to Jersey beef being the tenderest. Marbling, age, and texture all contribute to this superior, most sought-after tenderness.
And the Jersey’s downfall – small size and under-developed muscling – may be one of its finest attributes. In terms of the size of the cuts, it’s more in competition with the miniature breeds. This can be an asset, as portion sizes are getting smaller, and being able to put a small entree on a plate while still maintaining all of its recognizable characteristics, can be a taste plus that will add to the dining pleasure. This has been a challenge for conventional beef, as they attempt to down-size portion size cuts, while trying to maintain an identity that the consumer will recognize.
This also isn’t a program that will be easy to sell to most packers, as they would probably rather process a deer than suffer the negative processing costs and poor boning yields of Jersey cattle. But this is a very small “niche marketing concept” that would be of interest to those plants that dedicate themselves to specialized marketing concepts.
These are the kind of details that I’ve agreed to help Dan with, as I’ve offered to put together a marketing plan that will sell all the Jersey beef he and others like him can produce. It won’t be competitive with conventional beef, but it will be a very profitable plan that will seek out onlythose markets that recognize the additional value and contribution to their business.
Though not a certification program as such – other than taste and tenderness – Dan has assured me that he is a believer in sustainable agriculture and will comply with those standards that build beef from the ground up.
TEAMWORK (Keeping the tugs tight)
Posted August 2011
There has never been a greater need for teamwork within our workforce than there is today, nor a more demanding use of my time than that of speaking on the subject of teamwork; about the importance and value of all of us working together! As the economy continues to struggle, the size of the work force continues to dwindle. This means the same amount of work needs to get done with fewer people and less hours; making the challenge of success far different than it has been in the past.
There has always been waste in the market place, but none as obvious as that of human resources. In today’s market it is unheard of to just keep hiring until you get the right fit or deadwood sitting around ready to come off the bench.
This is as true in agriculture – particularly livestock operations – as it is in any other segment of labor-driven enterprises. Though the pitch fork and shovel have been replaced with skid-loaders and the like, there is always waste and inefficiency caused by a lack of teamwork and the non- selective positioning of attempting to put a square plug in a round hole.
Before considering any important personal management decision you should first tum to your dictionary which defines teamwork as: (A cooperative effort) team: (A group on the same side – a group organized to work together) teamster: (One who drives the team).
The term ‘teamster’ conjures up old memorable times back on the farm, and more importantly it serves as a reminder that it is a term that has been long forgotten by most. For those that still remember, you know what it was like to drive a team of horses that didn’t pull together. One horse would want to ride with you on the seat while the other did all the work. If that wasn’t bad enough, the lazy horse may have even further complicated the situation by kicking and nipping at the one that was trying to do it all. Not much has changed, as we still have people that want to participate that way; just sit back and let the other person do all the work; contributing to personal aggravation and total company chaos.
In the “good ol’ days” we called it keeping the tugs tight. For those that don’t know, the tugs are the part of the harness that attaches a team of horses to the load it’s pulling. You can imagine what it would be like when the team didn’t pull together. It was total frustration for the teamster and the work efficiency was reduced to half or less. Sometimes it was actually worse than it would have been to have had only one horse. Obviously the job was designed for two (sometimes 4 or 6) horses, so it wasn’t feasible to consider the option of only one horse. However, on occasion, I’ve seen it happen when frustration takes precedence over common sense and the well-being of those around you.
Professionalism, however, is the key to making corporate work force decisions. There are too many hiring decisions made without regard to how that individual will fit the compatibility of working with a team. All-stars are often a hindrance if they don’t fit the mold, or the position of his caliber has already been filled. This doesn’t suggest that you shouldn’t always be looking for the best, but it does mean that a hiring management plan with well defined positions (job description) should be the objective of every new hire. This is fairly common in most organizations. The uncommon part is that of compatibility, how each works with the other. Like a good athletic team, it requires excellent coaching and top management to put a winning team together.
Planning is still the most crucial ingredient of teamwork. Like that of a livestock marketing plan, if just one piece is missing the whole plan will fall apart. Livestock marketing seminars are still my focus, but as the twilight of time draws closer there is great satisfaction in relationships derived from an atmosphere of teamwork, where the plusses are multiplied by the exponent of infinity. Success is no accident – it takes everyone! It takes everyone with the same goals and objectives, without regard for personal gain and recognition. As difficult as this may seem, when you put the company first and your co-workers in a compatible supportive position, success is inevitable.
Recipe For Success:
One Part Belief
One Part Honesty
One Part Preparation
One Part Teamwork
(Mix until blended into the person you want to be)
Note that teamwork is an important ingredient in this recipe. To be an island unto yourself with your own agenda, is being part of the problem rather than part of the solution. Problems are simply opportunities looking for solutions, and when approached in that manner, you separate the people from the problems. Good people make mistakes. Mistakes can be fixed, but good people are your most cherished commodity. To have the leadership qualities to distinguish the difference may be the “bond of trust” that makes the greatest contribution to effective teamwork.
There is no place for anger in the work place; however it is often the outcome of poor judgment and misdirected placement of blame. Therefore, when it seems unavoidable, it is wise to direct your anger toward problems – not people; to focus your energy on answers, not excuses. Your strength is in your character, and problems bring out the true test of character.
Character is what you do when no one is watching. It is an intrinsic value that becomes one’s greatest motivation of excellence. It is the measure of people’s accountability to themselves. You’re strength is in your character and it starts and ends with building the other person up. It’s called teamwork! The greatest hope of any company is the collective individual character of each and every employee.
If you want your people involved and functioning as a team, make sure the individual has a significant role in affecting change. Change is inevitable and should be welcomed with an open mind and a sense of supportive working conditions. This is best interpreted as letting your people participate in making not only small decisions, but also major policy changing decisions. There is nothing like input to produce output!
Every change – big or little, seismic or insignificant – starts with someone who decides to do something differently. Don’t dampen this kind of spirit, as creativity is the defeat of habit by imposing originality and change. “But it has always been done this way” is the most shallow form of thinking known to the work place. It stymies growth and discourages people from becoming all they could be and thus limiting their contribution to the company.
The company’s duty to its employees is to manage as if limits to their ability do not exist. The best return on your investment is your people! Teamwork starts at the top where everyone is treated as though they are more important than you. This includes budgeting of all resources to reflect the priorities of your work force. But, the most important attributes of your people can not be measured or counted. You can only have an inspired and engaged work force if it is fueled by a positive attitude and everybody is pulling their share of the load.