Diane Prather's columns appear in the Craig Daily Press and Saturday Morning Press. You can call her at 824-8809.
Kit Pharo, of Pharo Cattle Co., is one busy man.
This author caught up with him last Sunday as he was returning home to Cheyenne Wells. Pharo had been on the road with speaking engagements here in Craig, and in Riverton and Pinedale, Wyo.
The topic of his speeches was “getting back to the basics in the cattle industry.”
Besides speaking engagements that take him all over the country, Pharo puts out a four to eight-page newsletter every other month. The newsletter goes out to a whopping 24,000 people.
He sends out 11,000 weekly e-mails, too, all from his office at Pharo Cattle Co.
Pharo wrote his first single-page newsletter in 1994. It went out to 200 friends and customers.
“I sent it out to everyone I could think of, “ he said.
At that time, Pharo Cattle Co. was about four years into selling bulls, and he wrote the newsletter to promote sales. Pharo Cattle CO. now sells 700 to 800 black and red Angus bulls a year. A sale will take place April 20, and another will be in November.
So, that’s how the newsletter got its start. As time went on, the size of the newsletter increased and so did the number of names and addresses that Pharo added to his database.
The speaking engagements started about 15 years ago.
Pharo put together a talk and presented it at a Natural Resource Conservation Service sponsored meeting in Springfield. Pretty soon, he started getting requests to do more. Now he does an average of 20 to 30 a year, on hire, in several parts of the country.
Chip Hines, Pharo’s longtime friend and mentor, makes similar presentations and sometimes travels with Pharo.
And what do Pharo’s newsletters and speaking engagements have in common? That’s how he shares his opinions and philosophies on how to make the cattle industry sustainable.
Pharo said the current cattle industry is “half a minute from catastrophe all the time.”
“What has worked so well for the past 40 years probably won’t work for the next 40 years,” he said.
“We tend to get locked into traditions and sometimes it’s hard to get out of the rut.”
Pharo encourages ranchers to “look and think outside the box.”
“Herd quitter” is a phrase Pharo uses in referring to people “who have enough courage to break away from the status-quo, herd-mentality way of thinking.”
In a newsletter, Pharo wrote, “If you’re doing what everyone else is doing, you will never have a competitive advantage. If you don’t have a competitive advantage, it will be difficult for you to compete, especially when the economy takes a downturn.”
Pharo said it’s the rising expenses in land, feed and energy that are keeping ranchers from making money now.
So, what can be done to build a profitable cow/calf operation?
Pharo said it involves the following: proper grass management, calving in sync with nature, and the right kind of cows.
“Through planned rotational grazing, it’s possible to increase grass and beef production by 50 percent, up to over 200 percent, with minimum input,” he said. “Pharo Cattle Company doesn’t feed hay in the winter, except when the snow is too deep or too crusted for the cows to dig through.”
And, the company produces cows that “fit the environment, instead of changing the environment to fit the cows.”
Pharo Cattle Company has a strict culling program, keeping only the most efficient cows. The three- and four-frame cows weigh 1,100 to 1,250 pounds.
Last, calving is done “in sync with nature.”
Pharo believes that, like the wild ungulates, “calving in sync with nature simply aligns the cow’s greatest nutritional requirements with nature’s very best forage resources.”
This story has only scratched the surface of Pharo’s philosophies.
For more information or to receive a free newsletter, call 1-800-311-0995. You may also visit the Web site, www.pharocattle.com.