Not every breed has the type of cattle that can meet the requirements established by our philosophy. We have studied many different breeds to find cattle with the biological type most suited to our environment and our philosophies. Our focus has always been on low-maintenance cattle with strong maternal traits. Our seedstock program includes Red Angus, Black Angus, Hereford, Tarentaise, Mashona, as well as Composites of these breeds.
Direction versus Destination
Does your breeding program have a destination, or does it only have a direction? Most ranchers have no specific target in mind. If you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you get there?
Rick Bourdon, formerly from Colorado State University, said “To breed for optimum means to have a target in sight beyond which you don’t want to go. If your goal is to maintain an optimum level for any trait, the evidence of your accomplishment is not visible change, but lack of it.” We agree wholeheartedly. Once you reach your optimum destination, you goal becomes maintaining that level without going any further.
Many ranches that were put together and paid for with 350-pound calves are now struggling and going broke with 600-pound calves. What went wrong?
For the last 50 years, producers have worshipped the god of weaning weight. Seedstock producers are leading the pack – right past the optimum destination. They are able to sell their bull calves to commercial producers at an inflated price, but how does that affect the commercial producer who buys and uses these bulls?
As cow size increases, producers are forced to reduce stocking rates and/or increase supplemental feeding. Herd fertility and cow efficiency suffer. Most importantly, as cow size increases, profit per acre decreases.
As ranchers, we’ve been conditioned to believe that our progress can only be measured by the visible changes that occur in our cattle. It’s difficult for us to stop at the optimum level for any trait because there would be no more visible change. Direction is good, but only when we have a destination in mind.
Pharo Cattle Company has always had a destination. For years we have been breeding efficient, fertile cattle for optimum production, which leads to maximum profit per acre. Our cows are required to thrive on native shortgrass prairie with almost no supplemental feed (only in extreme weather.)
We cull all open, late, or dry cows. We intentionally keep sufficient pressure on our cows to force about 10% out of the herd each year. When we see a pregnancy rate over 90%, we conclude that we have pampered our cows and/or under-stocked our grass.
Here’s what we look for in a cow:
Frame score of 2 to 4 with a mature weight of 1,000 to 1,250 pounds; ability to wean a calf that is a high percentage of her own body weight.
Low-maintenance animal with the ability to maintain good body condition, even on limited feed resources (reproduction and weight gain cannot take place until maintenance requirements have been met).
Volume & Capacity
Large fermentation vat with the ability to efficiently convert low quality forages into meat and milk.
Good feet, legs, teeth, muzzle, eyes, udder, hair coat, fly resistance, etc.
Staying on Target
It takes a tremendous amount of discipline to stay on target once the destination has been reached! No matter what the breed is, we always select for the same biological type and stay within the same boundaries. Our herd averages do not change much from year to year because our selection criteria do not change from year to year.
We don’t pretend to be all things to all people. We do, however, believe we are producing the right kind of bulls for most commercial ranchers, especially those that are raising their own replacement heifers.
You will discover that 3- and 4-frame cattle are not as small as most people think. Our thick, easy-fleshing 3- and 4-frame cows can easily weigh 1200 pounds. When you add thickness and fleshing ability to a moderate-framed animal, you have an optimal package that can maximize profit per acre.
How do you get these cows like these? It takes thick, easy-fleshing, moderate-framed bulls. Many ranchers do not realize it’s virtually impossible to produce efficient cows using bulls with a frame score over 4.
Birth Weight (Pounds)
Adj. Wean Weight (Pounds)
Cow Weight (Pounds)
The Pharo Cattle Company Philosophy
OPTIMUM SIZE is much more profitable than maximum size. POUNDS-PER-ACRE determines profit, not pounds-per-animal. In fact, PROFIT is the only thing we want to maximize!