Ask any group of producers, stud or commercial, for a show of hands if they have a breeding objective and most will raise their hand. Ask them if it is written down and reviewed regularly and the response is generally not as positive.
One thing is clear - if you can’t write it down you can’t communicate it clearly to others who are involved in your business.
A credible breeding objective is in many ways a living document. This means that it should not be considered rigid – as time goes by the overall goal may change as circumstances (environment, management, markets etc) change. Alternatively the goals may be achieved well ahead of time and so there is opportunity to reassess them and set new targets.
Outlining your breeding objective using the SMART criterion is one way of defining it clearly.
Your breeding objective should include goals that are,
- SPECIFIC – An example in a lamb industry context might be to produce lambs to meet an identifiable market sector or carcase weight target.
- MEASURABLE – Are you (and others) able to measure or observe the outcome for each goal. The indicators should be quantifiable. To continue the lamb example – how many of your lambs meet the target weight and what percentage of the drop do you expect to meet this target.
- ACHIEVABLE – Set goals that are achievable and realistic. When you reach them, reset them if required and move on. Remember your breeding objective is a living document that may change over time.
- RELEVANT – Set goals that are realistic and relevant to your industry, your clients and most importantly your operation.
- TIMELY – A time frame should be set for each goal. A target date will help drive you towards your goal. For example in the above lamb operation set time frames such as age of lambs or period of time for lambs to meet the target weights
When writing your Breeding Objective, each goal should meet the SMART test. Sharing these goals on paper will ensure everyone involved has clear direction and understanding of what you are trying to achieve. It is also useful to share with others outside the day to day operations of your business such as financial institutions (when seeking loans) or family (succession planning).
Further assistance in developing your Breeding Objectives using SMART principles can be obtained from a number of sources. Educational institutions, agribusiness consultants and others all offer this type of service.