“The further you want to go the less things you have to take with you” – Leontino Balbo.

Leonitino is a Brazilian producer of organic sugar from 20 000 ha of sugar cane. He is achieving higher yields than conventional growers using the original sugar cane varieties without any chemicals. He was asked: “How do you achieve this?” His answer: “I am an observer. Nature tells me what to do.”

What lessons can we as cattle producers take from this remarkable man ?
We are carrying too much baggage which we have to leave behind if we want to go forward.

We need to get rid of the following baggage:

  1. Production/Profit per animal
  2. Everything associated with breed purity and breed societies
  3. Performance measured in absolute terms
  4. Focus on detail
  5. The notion that “perfection of means justifies the goal”
  6. The viewpoint that the whole can only be understood by studying detail
  7. The viewpoint that people on the ground need to have decisions made on their behalf by people sitting behind desks
  8. The viewpoint that “scientific” conclusion is more important than observation

This hormonally balanced cow, I believe, is the ultimate that any progressive stud breeder can breed within the bounds set by a conventionally “progressive” breed society. She has a perfect calving record under current conditions given the fact that she has calved from the age of 2 years. The question is: Can she be genetically improved within the boundaries set by the breed society, and if that is possible, then how long will the process be?
If breeders left behind all the baggage they are currently carrying would they not be able to breed far more fertile cattle much faster? I believe so. All we need to do in this case is infuse inherent fatness from another African breed. By doing so we would immediately cross a barrier that would otherwise take many generations to achieve, if ever.

If we are really serious about making progress we need to offload unnecessary baggage and become more observant.