Writing a Plan with Goals

(Lesson 1. Planning a Grazing System continued)

Set Goals

Together with the farm team, determine your goals, how to accomplish them, how important they are, and how to measure progress.

Here are some questions to start off the goal setting task:

  • What is your landscape whole farm goal?
  • Do you want to maintain a herd, maximize production per acre or per animal, clear the land, other?
  • How intensive do you want the management to be?
  • Are you willing to fertilize and/ or apply chemicals?
  • How will you supplement hay and/or grain to be fed?
  • How much time should be allowed to reach the goals?
  • Is there a severe weed problem in the pastures?
  • What type and how much winter shelter is available for animals?

It may take more than one farm team meeting for an effective planning process. During the first session, everyone will gain an understanding of the process, and some of the team members may be hesitant about providing their input toward the future of the farm. Give them some time so that each member can think about his/her goals for the farm. Then, get the group back together to brainstorm ideas, determine goals for the farm, realistic measures for those goals, and the necessary steps to get there. Having realistic financial information (costs and prices) is necessary for accurate evaluation. Each team member should have a list of information available for the next meeting. Allow enough time between meetings so that all members can get reliable information to share in the next session.


Incorporate the goals from each member into one whole farm chart (See Figure 2). This will help to prioritize actions and direct allocation of available resources. There are some actions that need to be taken care of right away for the proper functioning of the farm. There are also actions that are essential for the healthy development of the family. Finally, there are some actions that can wait until next year. Display this chart in a very visible place and use it as a reminder of the farm’s goals, and refer back to it to determine the best use of available resources. Get the team together to re-evaluate the chart every year, change or add goals and celebrate those that have been achieved.

Figure 2. The Whole Farm Goal Chart (See Appendix A (PDF) for blank chart)

Lifestyle Financial
Goal Measure To Do Rank Goal Measure To Do Rank
Play piano 3 times a week Subscribe class 1 Increase income 60,000 Increase sales; off-farm job
Vacation 1 week cruise Travel agency 2 Buy bull Go to fair
Production Natural Resource/ Environmental
Goal Measure To Do Rank Goal Measure To Do Rank
Improve conception rate 97% Improve nutrition 2 Better Soil Organic matter Rotational grazing
Condition Score 6-7 into winter More birds Leave nesting area
Improve pastures 10% CP
350lb. DM/ac/in
Re-seed clover
Soil sample

Schedule an Action Plan

Decide when to do what. Make a calendar for the coming year. Review the example below which illustrates an option for each field and see how it matches the map shown in Figure 1.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Field 1 soil analysis corn Harvest
Field 2 soil analysis reseed cool season grass, mobile fence graze, rest rest rest rest, cut rest
Field 3 soil analysis plant cool season grass rest cut rest rest, mobile fence, graze graze, rest

Keep Records

Keep a notebook to write goals and notes. For examples of worksheets to keep records on your natural resources, see Appendix B (PDF).

Click on the links below to finish Lesson 1: