Rancher finds profits outside the box

 

By Carol Ryan Dumas, Capital Press

Jan 13, 2020

 

TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Kit Pharo has run cattle on eastern Colorado grasslands for the past 35 years with common-sense principles that go against the grain of traditional ranching.

 

That’s led to a profitable and sustainable cow-calf operation, cooperative herds in 12 states and a seedstock business that now sells more than 1,000 bulls a year.

 

Bucking the trend has proved successful for his operation, and he encouraged ranchers at the Idaho Range Livestock Symposium to likewise think outside the box.

 

The status-quo way of doing things stopped working 30 years ago. But most ranchers are operating the same way their parents and grandparents did, he said.

 

“Ranchers today are doing good just to break even,” he said.

 

Weaning weight

 

Over the last 50 years, producers have bred for bigger weaning weights. That might have given them bragging rights, but that’s about it. Cow size increased, and stocking rates had to decrease, he said.

 

“The stocking rate affects profitability, or lack thereof, more than anything else,” he said.

 

The industry has nearly doubled weaning weights over the last 50 years, but cost of production has increased and profits have decreased, he said.

 

“Why are we focusing on the wrong thing, and why did we do it for so long?” he asked.

 

The industry is now at a tipping point. Producers have to change or they’ll go out of business, and those slowest to change are going to get run over. Those who can’t cut or eliminate expenses might as well cut their losses, he said.

 

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