Animal Science Department


Date of this Version

December 1999


Published for Proceedings, The Range Beef Cow Symposium XVI December 14, 15 and 16, 1999 - Greeley, Colorado.


Our ranch is known as Pharo Cattle Company and is located eight miles north of Cheyenne Wells, which is on the central high plains of Eastern Colorado. This is short-grass country with very limited and unpredictable rainfall. We have a commercial cow herd, as well as a registered cow herd. Our seedstock program consists of Red Angus, Black Angus, Tarentaise, and Composites. Our Composite cattle are 50% Tarentaise, 30% Red or Black Angus and 20% Hereford.

Since our ranch provides our only source of income, our ranching practices must be both sustainable and profitable. Recently I've heard a lot of people use the catch phrase "sustainable agriculture". I'm not sure I know exactly what that means, but I do know that it must begin with a profit because agriculture that is not profitable is not sustainable!

To be profitable in the cow/calf business lately hasn't been easy. It's been estimated that only 10 to 15% of cow/calf producers made a profit in 1996. 1997 and 1998 were about the same. That's not very encouraging, but I've been fortunate enough to know several ranchers who belong to this 10 to 15%. These are ranchers who are always profitable. What makes it possible for some ranchers to be profitable while most are losing money? That's what I'd like to discuss in these proceedings.

In agriculture we have very little control over the markets and the prices we receive for our products. That has proven to be very frustrating. The only two things we do have much control over are our production and our expenses. I've noticed that successful people focus their time and energy on the things they can control, rather than on the things they cannot control.