One Down and Two to Go –

Our first-ever Virtual Bull Sale went off without a hitch.   It was strange not to have 200+ people in the seats.   Last year, we served lunch to 288 people at our Missouri Bull Sale.   Nearly all the seats were full.   This year, the entire Missouri Bull Sale took place in our living room.

We had 155 Stay-At-Home bidders from 26 different states.   We sold 145 bulls in less than two hours for an average price of $5250 – with a range of $2500 to $13,000.  

Time to Change Horses –

Visualize, if you will, an old cowpoke riding an old plug horse that stumbles along at a very slow pace with its head just a foot off the ground.   I believe the cowpoke in this image represents a lot of today’s cow-calf producers – perhaps most of today’s cow-calf producers.   The old horse represents an outdated paradigm that will not allow the producer to be profitable.   If the producer doesn’t change horses, he will eventually go out of business, or be forced to subsidize his unprofitable business.

Life is What We Make It –

Life is like riding a roller coaster.   It has its ups and downs.   For most of us, life is exciting and thrilling.   It is seldom dull and boring.   Life is what we make it.

In the last two months, however, the roller coaster has been picking up speed.   While this is terrifying to some, it is exhilarating to others.   Life is what we make it.   While some see nothing but problems, others see opportunities.   If you have been watching the news with the proper attitude,

Resistance to Change –

People hate change!   Nowhere is this more prevalent than in agriculture.   It seems to take years for people in agriculture to make simple changes – even though they know the change will be for their own good.   I must confess that I too am reluctant to change.   I may not hate change as much as most people, but it still makes me uncomfortable.

I read a neat little Seth Godin book entitled Tribes.  

Special Announcement –

After much deliberation, we decided we should try having a bull sale – without actually having a bull sale.   Is that possible?   Yep!   We plan to sell a combined total of over 500 bulls in Missouri, Texas and Colorado – without hauling the bulls to town and without gathering up a crowd of people at a sale barn.

Much changed last week in reference to the coronavirus outbreak.   The craziness got crazier – and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down.  

Coronavirus… Gone Amuck –

News, around the world, has been focused on the latest coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.   Therefore, we thought we should share some of our thoughts from a little different perspective.   Although serious in nature, I think we can agree the mainstream media has blown this thing way out of proportion.   Unfortunately, the reason for some of this seems to be political in nature.  

Buyer Beware –

There are a few bull marketers who are trying to mimic what Pharo Cattle Company says and does.   We have no problem with that – but we encourage buyers to beware.   I’m sure these bull marketers do some things right – but no one even comes close to doing all the things Pharo Cattle Company does right.

 We have been selling bulls for 30 years… and counting.   We have helped thousands of cow-calf producers put more fun and profit into their business.  

Top the Market – and Lose Money –

I recently received a call from a consultant who claimed to be working with several cow-calf producers in the southeast.  This consultant was interested in helping his clients become profitable and wanted to know if Pharo Cattle Company could help.

 I was surprised when this so-called “consultant” spent so much time explaining the importance of “topping the market” at local sale barns.  He also placed emphasis on cattle with larger frames and higher growth.   I began to wonder if he was consulting for feedyards or for cow-calf producers. 

The Diet Factor –

 

In last week’s PCC Update, Tim Goodnight said, Without discounting the importance of body condition at calving, I think it is important to understand that the plane of gain an animal is experiencing is equally – if not more important.   Research shows that thin cows coming out of winter experiencing a positive plane of gain into the calving season will have a higher conception rate than fat cows that are experiencing a negative plane of gain because they were fed and pampered through the winter.”

Tim chose to write about this because he wanted to refute what a couple of PCC customers had said about body condition in a recent PCC Discussion thread.  

It Won’t Cost a Dime –

The first step most cow-calf producers need to take to double their profits will not cost them a dime and it will not require any physical labor.   It will require nothing more than a change in thinking.   Producers must STOP focusing on pounds and profit per animal – and START focusing on pounds and profit per acre.

Contrary to popular opinion, trying to increase pounds per animal (bragging rights) will always have a negative effect on net profits.  

PCC Star Ratings –

In addition to EPDs, weights, ratios and ultrasound data, Pharo Cattle Company provides star ratings for the following traits on our sale bulls.   A 5-star rating is the best – with 3-star being about average.

  • Disposition
  • Calving Ease
  • Cow Longevity
  • Udder Conformation
  • Low Maintenance
  • Grass Efficiency
  • Fleshing Ability
  • Thickness
  • Muscling
  • Masculinity
  • Overall Rating
  • Hair Coat
  • Fly Resistance

 NO ONE else in this business has even attempted to provide you with as much useful information as we do.  

No Grass –

In early January, I gave a ranch tour to a couple from Alberta, Canada.   They had been to a Ranching for Profit school in Colorado Springs.   When I showed them the cowherd, they said, “This is the first grass we have seen since we left Colorado Springs.”   Nearly all of the land between here and Colorado Springs is grassland – but there was very little grass to see.   They were shocked at how badly everyone had abused and overgrazed their grass.

How to Identify the Best Cows –

 How can you identify the most efficient and most profitable cows in a cowherd?   The answer is so simple most people miss it.   The most efficient and profitable cows in an unpampered cowherd will always be the oldest cows.   These are cows that have done everything right without missing for at least twelve years.  

 NOTE: When I say “unpampered ranch,” I am referring to a ranch that requires their cows to graze year-round with little or no hay or other supplements.  

NO Bottom End –

We just finished evaluating bulls in Texas, Missouri and Colorado in preparation for our spring bull sales.   We had many visitors attend all of our bull workdays.   This was the first time for some.   Others have attended our bull workdays every year for several years.   Everyone was very impressed with the overall quality of our Solar Bulls.   I guarantee you won’t find bulls like this anywhere else.

 Over the years, there has been very little change to the top end of our bulls.  

Late Weaning –

 Following last week’s PCC Update, we received several questions about late weaning and why we choose to leave calves on their mothers over the winter. 

 For starters, it’s natural.   In nature, there is no herdsman to wean the offspring.   In fact, when a doe gives birth to a fawn, there is often a yearling not far away.   Along with mimicking nature, running one herd requires less time, labor and money.   Late weaning will allow the calves to learn what to eat,

First and Foremost –

 When purchasing bulls, the most important factor to consider is the program behind the bulls.   Bulls that were produced in a program that aligns with your long-term goals are worth a whole lot more than bulls coming out of a program that does not align with your long-term goals.   This is so obvious it should go without saying.

 However, I have visited with hundreds of cow-calf producers who say they want to produce efficient, 1100 to 1200-pound cows that can wean 50% of their own weight for many years without being pampered – only to find out they have been buying bulls that were produced by 1400 to 2000-pound cows that must be pampered to stay in production.

Letter to the Editor –

 The following is a portion of a letter to the editor I found in a popular beef magazine a couple of years ago.   It is in reference to getting young cows bred back with their second and third calves.   I think it speaks volumes about what has been going on with most cow-calf producers.

 “Even though I feed the best alfalfa hay and supplement with molasses tubs, I can’t keep enough condition on them to breed back.  The heifers with the biggest calves as two-year-olds will almost always be among those that are open the next year.  

Change the Cow – NOT the Environment –

Cows must fit their environment to stay in production.   Common sense tells us it is much easier, as well as much more profitable, to change the cow to fit the environment than it is to artificially change the environment to fit the cow.

 Your environment can only support so much size, growth and milk.   Once you go beyond that point, you will have to reduce stocking rates and/or use expensive inputs to artificially change the environment.   That may have worked when calf prices were ridiculously high a few years ago – but it won’t work now.

Be Honest with Yourself –

 

If you are a cow-calf producer, I encourage you to be honest with yourself when you answer the following two questions.   Were you profitable in 2019?   If you were profitable, would you be able to prosper with that level of profitability year after year after year?   According to what I have read and heard, very few cow-calf producers showed much profit in 2019.   Most did good just to break even.   Many did not break even.

Contrary to popular opinion, there are many cow-calf producers who were very profitable in 2019.