I guess it is time for me to share my two cent’s worth…
Growing up in the 1960s, Tom Lasater was my mentor and hero. He had an ad every month on the inside cover of the Western Livestock Journal – where he shared his philosophies, as well as pictures of his cattle.
Lasater used the “survival of the fittest” concept to develop the Beefmaster breed. I was impressed! Form will follow function if man can stay out of the way. Very few producers, however, can stay out of the way. Most producers find it necessary to select for things that have nothing to do with function – Tom Lasater included. More often than not, the things man selects for are antagonistic to function and profit per acre.
After I got in the ranching business for myself (1985), I took another look at Tom Lasater’s program, as well as his “Six Essentials.” It didn’t take long for me to see the fallacy in the Lasater program. Two of the “six essentials” Lasater was selecting for were “weight” and milk production.” If you select for weight and milk production, you are essentially selecting for bigger and bigger cows with higher and higher maintenance requirements. When you produce bigger and bigger cows with higher and higher maintenance requirements, your profit per acre continues to decrease year after year after year.
Suffice it to say, Lasater has very BIG cows. We have many international visitors who have also toured Lasater’s. They all say Lasater has HUGE cows compared to PCC cows.
Another of the six essentials is disposition. For the most part, this is not obtained genetically. It is obtained through a feed bucket. Dale Lasater’s suburban will get mauled by big cows trying to get a bite of cake. When Tyson and I visited several ranches in Chihuahua, I remember seeing five Beefmaster heifers that originated in Colorado. They chased the four-wheeler around for a bite of cake. I have several low-input friends and acquaintance who have purchased Beefmaster bulls. In most cases, the daughters had disposition and fertility problems – both typical of all Brahman crosses.
The late Tom Lasater once said, ”The cattle business is a simple business. The only problem is keeping it simple.”
Most ranchers should have a two-fold goal – maximizing enjoyment and sustainable profit per acre. That can be very simple – if we don’t complicate things.