Ode to a Cow by Tom Strahm

Ode To A Cow
By Unknown Author • The Old Farmer’s Almanac 1936
When life seems one too many for you,
Go and look at a cow.
When the future’s black and the outlook blue,
Go and look at a cow.
For she does nothing but eat her food,
And sleep in the meadows entirely nood,
Refusing to fret or worry or brood
Because she doesn’t know how.
Whenever you’re feeling bothered and sore,
Go and look at a cow.
When everything else is a fearful bore,
Go and look at a cow.
Observe her gentle and placid air,
Her nonchalance and savoir faire,
Her absolute freedom from every care,
Her imperturbable brow.
So when you’re at the end of your wits,
Go and look at a cow.
Or when your nerves are frayed to bits,
And wrinkles furrow your brow;
She’ll merely moo in her gentle way,
Switching her rudder as if to say:
“Bother tomorrow! Let’s live today!”
Take the advice of a cow.
Although I don’t believe that “the future’s black, and the outlook blue”, the “Ode To A Cow” reminds me that while very rewarding, production agriculture also can be very challenging.

Extreme weather conditions, increased price volatility, and compressed profit margins are just a few of the obstacles that producers are faced with today. Many of these circumstances are beyond any of our control, and to say the least, it can be frustrating at times. Focusing on management areas where good decision making can have meaningful impact is crucial to improving the profit potential.

In his book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” Stephen R. Covey writes “Our unique human endowments lift us above the animal world. The extent to which we exercise and develop these endowments empowers us to fulfill our uniquely human potential. Between stimulus and response is our greatest power – the freedom to choose.”

Unlike the cow in the poem, who is just living for today, we can make meaningful, proactive choices today that improve our operations for tomorrow and for years to come.

This summer a cattle producer told me something that went like this, “I don’t want to work for my cows. I want my cows to work for me!”

This mindset is influencing his decisions for genetic and phenotypic selection with the intent of improving his efficiency and ultimately improving his bottom line, which is something all cattle  producers should strive to accomplish.

Many of the commercial cow-calf producers that I’ve had the opportunity to visit this summer are choosing Gelbvieh and Balancer® genetics because those cows “work for them.”

“Choose Gelbvieh” is the theme of the most recently released “The American Rancher” episode that aired last month. Maternal superiority summarizes many attributes of the Gelbvieh and Balancer cows that contribute to those cows working for these commercial cattlemen. Fertility, maternal ability, efficiency, and stayability are all very important traits in a mother cow. Many producers want these traits to come in a moderate sized, structurally sound and docile package that is consistent with the visual created in the Ode above. While the cow appears placid and
nonchalant, she just as well be working hard for her owner!

Genetics that work for you should reduce your inputs, hopefully reduce your stress, and increase your profit potential. As seedstock suppliers, the product that you’re selling needs to work for your customers. Keep striving to produce genetics that will work better for your commercial customers, and help them reach their goals. Ultimately, you and your customers have a common goal of producing a safe, nutritional and wholesome product that culminates in the best eating experience for consumers around the world!