If One Can Do It…
By Kit Pharo
If I had a nickel for every time my long-time friend and mentor Chip Hines has said, “If one can do it, they all should be able to do it,” I would have a truckload of nickels. In the 30+ years that I have known Chip, he has had a profound effect on me, on Pharo Cattle Company and on the entire beef industry.
Although Chip has an excellent understanding of the minute details of beef production, he likes to keep everything as simple as possible. Nature has always been Chip’s example and teacher. He thinks cows should be able to produce and reproduce without any outside inputs. If one can do it, they all should be able to do it.
In the mid-1990s… we were giving our cows a protein supplement three times a week for 30 days prior to calving. We did this because that is what we thought we had to do with cows grazing short, dormant grass all winter. I remember a cow (Angel 382) who wouldn’t even look up when we came to feed the range cubes. She continued to graze – even though all of the other cows were frantically running to the pickup.
This cow reminded me of what Chip had told me many times, “If one can do it, they all should be able to do it.” I decided to eliminate all protein supplementation. I remember one university expert advising me against taking such drastic actions. He said, “We both know the protein level of your winter grass is very low. According to the book, you need to supplement some protein.” I nodded my head, but ignored his advice… and I got away with it.
Do you know why I was able to ignore his advice and get away with it? I got away with it because not one of my cows had read the book the university guy was referring to. They didn’t know any better. Who wrote the book anyway?
I’m sure some cows eventually fell out of our herd after we discontinued providing a protein supplement. Most of the cows, however, were not affected. This is how you make genetic improvement and progress. If you never take away inputs, you will never know which cows can survive without inputs. Over the years, we have essentially eliminated all outside inputs with the exception of salt and mineral. I know a few PCC customers who have eliminated mineral supplementation.
Recently, I have taken Chip’s “If one can do it…” statement to a different level. I have thought about how successful and profitable most PCC customers are in comparison to their neighbors.
What’s the difference between PCC customers and their neighbors? The primary difference is that PCC customers are focused on increasing production per acre, while their neighbors continue to be focused on increasing production per animal. There is a BIG difference! If some cow-calf producers can do it, others should be able to do it.
Quote Worth Re-Quoting –
“The men who succeed are the efficient few. They are the few who have the ambition and the will power to develop themselves.” ~ Robert Burton (1577 – 1640)