Rafter JM Cattle Company
Starting a business is never for the faint of heart, especially when it comes to ranching. While Justin and Jenny Dow weren’t new to cattle production, they faced the tall task of starting Rafter JM Cattle Company from the ground up. What began as a humble cow-calf operation, grew and diversified to include a stocker program, all done with a perfect mix of grit, God and great data.
Turning Good Land Stewardship into Added Profits
The Dow family didn’t have the luxury of starting their cow-calf operation with an influx of cash. Challenged with slim margins, Justin knew he had to get creative with his ranch management. Initially, he thought the answer was to become a cattle expert, but quickly realized his focus should be on the “ground-level” of his operation.
“I historically wanted to learn about cows, but realized I should learn about grass,” says Justin Dow. “While learning about grass, I realized I needed to understand soil.”
Ensuring his ranch could meet his production needs, Justin sought help from the Noble Research Institute and Ranching for Profit program. These programs helped him gain a better understanding of the relationship between grazing, soil health and a ranch’s economics.
“I went down the sustainability path for economic reasons,” says Justin Dow. “It doesn’t cost anything to let nature take its course because there are no inputs, just outputs.”
Equipped with new management strategies, Justin implemented his learnings and used data-driven insights to assess and analyze the progress being made.
Finding Support and Guidance Using Data-Driven Insights
After deciding to retain ownership of his calves through a stocker program, Justin set a goal of improving their weight gain. Knowing soil health played a significant role in forage nutritional value, he started there. Along with the ranches’ new grazing strategies, he also incorporated a 12-species cover crop mix.
While some ranchers might have implemented these strategies and moved on, Justin took things a step further. He identified key performance indicators (KPIs) to show progress, and began tracking them within AgriWebb.
As Justin shared, it’s imperative to choose the data points that matter most to your operation. With too many, it can feel overwhelming for ranchers if they try to collect everything.
“There’s a lot of data out there, but data has to be useful,” says Justin Dow. “Remain focused on what really drives the needle and answers your questions.”
By using AgriWebb, Justin was able to turn everyday digital records into profit-driving insights. Using ranch management software allowed him to see his ranch at both a macro and micro-level. Seeing the full picture, Justin was able to identify what areas he wanted to focus on next.
I continue to look for places where I can expand the information I have, to make better decisions, especially when it requires less effort for me to get good, sound data. AgriWebb helps me do that.
Justin Dow Owner, Rafter JM Cattle Company
Justin’s use of technology didn’t end with ranch data, it was only the beginning. With AgriWebb’s ability to integrate with Ranchbot, a remote water monitoring solution, Justin put two AgTech solutions to work for his business.
Removing Risk with AgriWebb and Ranchbot
The integration capabilities of today’s technology can significantly decrease the risk ranchers take when making operational changes. When the Dow family bought their ranch, it’s make-up couldn’t sustain a high-intensity grazing model. As Justin began to shift his grazing strategy, he had to adapt his ranch’s water infrastructure as well.
While more water tanks were added, there were still areas Justin wasn’t able to install ideal water infrastructure. By implementing Ranchbot’s remote water monitors, Justin had access to real-time water level readings, and better yet, a greater peace of mind.
“We could put a real-time monitor on a water trough, even in places where we didn’t have solid water infrastructure,” says Justin Dow. “It gave us good insight and visibility into what was going on. If we had a problem, we knew it immediately, and could fix it.”
With AgriWebb and Ranchbot’s integration, Justin could see all of his livestock, land, team and water data in one place. It also helped increase his employees’ productivity.
“They’d receive a text message from Ranchbot alerting them about a potential water tank issue. My employees could log into AgriWebb and view that specific water tank’s level right from the ranch map,” he says. “It not only allowed his employees to know what the problem was, but exactly where it was.”
While tech integrations might seem overwhelming, Justin shared that most platforms are intuitive. “Technology is evolving to help us have more information with less effort,” says Justin Dow.
However, if a rancher is exploring new tech solutions, it’s important to do business with a company that wants to be your partner. When exploring tech solutions, Justin urges ranchers to ensure a company is focused on making the rancher successful. It’s also important to invest in companies with stellar customer service.
I can absolutely say that AgriWebb and Ranchbot are two of those companies. There’s never been a question I’ve had that they weren’t able to answer by a phone call, and if the answer wasn’t readily available, they worked hard to get the answer for me.
Justin Dow Rafter JM Cattle Company
Integrated Technology is the Future of the Ranching Industry
Justin believes the future of tech isn’t about creating new solutions, it’s making the current ones better and more robust. “People are largely already working on a lot of really good things,” says Dow.
The real dream, though, is a completely integrated ranch system that connects everything together, in one place: livestock management software, EID tags, water sensors, weigh scales and more. When all of these systems communicate both together and back to the rancher, it could significantly improve the infrastructure and productivity of one’s ranch.
“If we can get technology to integrate together and provide insights and solutions that help us run a better business, it opens up a world of opportunities in terms of how ranchers graze animals and how ranchers manage landscapes across the world,” says Dow.
Integrations between livestock management software like AgriWebb and remote water monitoring solutions like Ranchbot, are made possible through The AgriWebb Marketplace. From EID scanners and scale heads to water and land management integrations, AgriWebb’s mission is to improve on-ranch productivity by bringing everything ranchers need to succeed, all in one place.