The Aha Moment…

Over the years, the illustration below provided the “Aha Moment” hundreds of cow-calf producers needed to STOP focusing on increasing pounds per animal (bragging rights) and START focusing on increasing pounds per acre (profit).


Year in and year out, the truck with the 450-pound calves will be worth at least $20,000 more than the truck with the 600-pound calves.   If your ranch produces five truckloads of calves, that would be a difference of $100,000!

Big-Calf Syndrome — It Can Be Fatal

No, this is not an ailment that affects big calves.   This is an ailment that affects ranchers who believe they must produce big calves to be profitable.   Big calves are not always profitable.   In fact, small calves are almost always more profitable than big calves.   I know some of you find this hard to believe, but it’s true.   Allow me to share three reasons for this.

Cost of Production will always have a bigger impact on net profit than calf size.   Profit is measured by subtracting your expenses from your income.  

Buyer Beware –

All of the beef publications I receive are still jammed full – cover to cover – with bull sale advertisements.   You will quickly notice that nearly all of the bulls being offered have been bred and selected to help you increase your production per cow (weaning weight).   This has been the primary focus of the beef industry for over 50 years.   Registered breeders continue to select for higher and higher growth EPDs, and for bigger and bigger weaning weights.

Growth EPDs for most bulls are through the stratosphere!  

Q and A –

Question:  I’m sure you have explained this before.   Why are your bulls able to cover more cows than bulls coming out of other programs?  Also, I am wondering how many cows you recommend putting with a bull.


The fact that our bulls can cover more cows is a result of two things.   Low-maintenance requirements and the way our bulls are developed.   Nearly all of today’s bulls are high-maintenance bulls that have been developed on high-energy rations.

The Up-Periscope Syndrome –

A periscope is a very handy instrument used to observe activity above the water’s surface from a submerged submarine.   When the command “up periscope” is given the periscope is raised for use.   Once in place, it has the ability to swivel around for surveillance in all directions.

We often refer to disposition problems in cattle as the up-periscope syndrome.   When you come in close contact with a herd of cattle, those with a nervous disposition will quickly raise their heads in the air and start looking back and forth like an extended periscope.  

Sex Is NOT Work.

Have you ever heard a veterinarian or a seedstock producer caution against overworking a bull, especially a young bull?   What do they mean?   How can you overwork a bull?   When someone advises you against overworking a bull, they are really telling you to not give him too many cows or heifers to breed.

Now, wait a minute!   Allow me to set the record straight.   Sex is NOT work for a bull!   In fact, every bull worth his salt will go to sleep and wake up thinking about finding more cows to breed.  

Seems a Little Early –

I look in on a couple of internet discussion forums on a regular basis just to see what the status quo whiz kids are saying and thinking.   On Monday, February 1st, one discussion forum started a thread on “Horn Fly Control.”   Really?   In February?   That seems a little early.   I usually don’t see much discussion on fly control until May and June – when it quickly becomes the hottest topic within the beef industry.   I suspect memories of last summer’s horrific fly problems are still fresh in some minds.

Annual Cow Cost –

I recently read an article in a beef publication that quoted Stan Bevers who is a ranch economist in Texas.   Stan said, “The average cow cost in the late 1980s and early 1990s was about $365 per year.”   In other words, every calf had to sell for $365 to break even.   A 450-pound calf would have to sell for $0.81 per pound to break even.

Stan went on to say, “Today,

Question and Answer –


Question: What do you think the optimal % of body weight weaned should be for a cowherd?


Let me begin by saying, just about anything is possible if we are willing to reduce stocking rates and spend enough on extra feed and special care.   For example, it is possible to have 1600-pound cows wean 800-pound calves – but we will have a whole lot more invested in those 8000-pound calves than they will ever be worth.  

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 produce cows that fit the environment than it is to artificially change the environment to fit the cows.

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.

In with the New –

Last week, we discussed the year 2020 in our “Out with the Old” article.   Today, we are going to look ahead to the new year.   Some say the first day of the new year is no different from the last day of the previous year.   They may be right – but, in my mind, starting a new year allows me the opportunity to hit the refresh button on my life.   Therefore, I start every year with excitement and anticipation.  

As we say goodbye to one year and hello to the next,

The Sky’s the Limit

The Sky is the Limit –

We believe the business of ranching can be much, much better than most people have been led to believe – but only for those who are not being restrained by outdated traditions and ways of thinking.   We see evidence of this all around us!   It is exciting to watch people do what their neighbors say cannot be done.   It is inspiring to watch ordinary people accomplish extraordinary things.  

We believe the sky is the limit for those who have enough courage to break away from the status quo,

Out with the Old –

The year 2020 will definitely be one to remember!   With the arrival of Rona (co-Rona-virus), life as we knew it was hijacked (unlawfully seized, appropriated, stolen, commandeered).   Although Rona was not the first influenza pandemic to hit the world, she was treated as the first and the worst.

Many people in politics and the news media did their best to take advantage of this crisis – and they succeeded.   It became okay to riot in the streets and destroy private and public property – but it was not okay to enjoy a meal out with your family.  

The Exodus Has Begun –

Because of the drought, we are relocating all of the mature cows at PCC Headquarters – with the exception of a few old teenage cows.   At this point, we hope to hold on to our bred heifers and heifer calves.   We are sending our cows to four different PCC cooperative herds – three in Nebraska and one in North Dakota.   These cows will be loaded on trucks tonight and tomorrow morning.

This brings back some memories of the first 12 years of the 21st century – some good memories and some sad memories.  

Bend in the Road –

Helen Keller once said, “A bend in the road is not the end of the road… unless you fail to make the turn.”   That is a very simple, yet profound, statement!   It applies to all people in all walks of life.   It has application for me – and it has application for you!

What word can we use to define a “bend in the road”?   The first word that comes to my mind is “change.”   Change is a normal part of life.  

Ten Steps To Double Your Profits

Cow-calf producers who want to have a prosperous future will need to make some major changes in their business.   The sooner they take the first step, the sooner they will reach their destination.   I will review the Ten Steps required to get on the right road.   These steps are not difficult, but they will require a paradigm shift – which can be difficult.

  • Step 1…   Focus on pounds and profit per acre – instead of per animal.   There is a BIG difference.   Trying to increase pounds per animal (bragging rights) will always have a negative effect on your profits.  

Time to Change Horses

Visualize, if you will, an old cowpoke riding an old plug horse that stumbles along with its head just a foot off the ground.   The cowpoke 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 business with outside income.   At that point, the business is no longer working for him.  

Create the Future of Your Dreams –

If success was easy, everyone would be remarkably successful.   Unfortunately, very few people can be classified as remarkably successful.   Success, however, does appear to be easy for some people.   If you look closer, you will discover those people are very driven and focused.   They make things happen.   They see opportunities most people miss.   They are not afraid to step outside their comfort zone.   They are not afraid to try what others say cannot be done.

We believe there will be more opportunities for you and your family operation to advance in the next ten years than there have been in the last 30 years – but only if you are able to break away from the status quo,