How To Make Your Cattle Operation Profitable. Printable PDF Click
Answer: Profit making genetics of Texas Longhorn cattle.
Needing to add to or restock your cattle operation?
After several years of drought throughout the US many ranchers and commercial cattle producers are looking at restocking or adding to their cattle operations. The Longhorn was the answer to the prayers of many a family after the Civil War came to an end. Hundreds-of-thousands of Longhorns were driven up the trails to the northern markets, creating and building our livestock marketing industry. They helped build a nation. Once again the Longhorn can help ranchers and commercial cattlemen build a bright future. The Texas Longhorn offers one of the most affordable and cost effective ways to build a profitable cattle operation.
Thinking about getting involved in the cattle industry?
If you are a first time cattle owner or an absentee owner then the Texas Longhorn breed is the breed for you. Longhorn cattle are the no hassle breed which makes them ideal for the first time cattle owner or the owner who has little time to spend with his cattle. Longhorns, under most circumstances are more than capable of taking care of themselves. Longhorns are not only a breed that can be profitable to raise but enjoyable as well, they are each unique with no two alike. They are all different in their color patterns, size, horn length and personality making them a joy to be around. When you own Longhorns, you own a living breathing piece of history. The Texas Longhorn is the living symbol of the Old West.
Take advantage of these profit making genetics by adding Texas Longhorns to you cattle operation today.
Fertility – Breed at a young age, breed back quickly after calving and calve into their teenage years.
Longevity – Texas Longhorns breed and calve well into their teen years. More live calves over the years means more dollars in the rancher’s pocket.
Browse Utilization – Less supplemental feed is needed because the cattle take advantage of the forage available. Most Longhorn cows weight 1000lbs or less which means less cost to maintain the cows. This allows the rancher to possibly increase his carrying capacity, which increases the number calves produced thus increasing the potential profits. A good Longhorn cow will generally wean a calf that weights at least 40-50% of cow’s weight at weaning.
Disease/Parasite Resistance – A natural immunity developed over the centuries means fewer veterinarian bills and less maintenance for today’s cattlemen.
Reproductive Efficiency – Larger pelvic openings and low birth weights results in lives calves. Busy cattlemen can say “goodbye” to sleepless nights.
Adaptability – The breed thrives in climates from the hot, damp coastal regions to the harsh winters in Canada.
Hybrid Vigor – Heritable qualities enhances your present breed and gives you a new genetic pool. Commercial cattle producers are utilizing these inherited genetics of the Texas Longhorn female with their breed of bull to produce live, vigorous, profitable calves for the market place.
Survivor of the Past - Bright Promise for the Future
by Dr. Stewart H. Fowler, PhD
Cattlemen caught in a devastating cost-price squeeze are now taking a serious second look at the old Texas Longhorn. Doubly stunned by the inflation of all cost factors and the recession of cattle prices, cattlemen are actively seeking new "profit genes" for their beef herds. The quest has broadened to an international search for "new" genes that might boost productivity and profits. In this process, many have tended to overlook a promising gene source close to home. I refer to the Texas Longhorn.
An almost forgotten reservoir of unique genetic material, the Longhorn is literally an old source of new genes! In fact, the Texas Longhorn may prove to be a real "genetic gold-mine" in the future of our beef industry.
What is so unique about the Texas Longhorn? What makes it different from the multitude of other breeds now available in North America? Simply this: The Texas Longhorn was fashioned entirely by nature right here in North America. Stemming from ancestors that were the first cattle to set foot on American soil almost 500 years ago, it became the sound end product of "survival of the fittest". Shaped by a combination of natural selection and adaptation to the environment, the Texas Longhorn is the only cattle breed in America which - without aid from man - is truly adapted to America. In his book The Longhorns, J. Frank Dobie states this situation well: "Had they been registered and regulated, restrained and provided for by man, they would not have been what they were."
Hardy, aggressive, and adaptable, the Texas Longhorns were well suited to the rigors of life on the ranges of the southwestern United States. They survived as a primitive animal on the most primitive of ranges and became the foundation stock of that region's great cattle industry.
With the destruction of the buffalo following the Civil War, the Longhorns were rushed in to occupy the Great Plains, a vast empire of grass vacated by the buffalo. Cattlemen brought their breeding herds north to run on the rich grazing lands of western Nebraska, Wyoming, the Dakotas, and Montana. Thus, the Great Plains became stocked largely with these "bovine citizens" from the Southwest. And, the Texas Longhorns adapted well to their expanding world. They had reached their historical heyday, dominating the beef scene of North America like no other cattle breed has done since. However, the romantic Longhorn era came to an end when their range was fenced in and plowed under and imported cattle with quick maturing characteristics were brought in to "improve" beef qualities. Intensive crossbreeding had nearly erased the true typical Longhorn by 1900.
Rescue from extinction
Fortunately, beginning in 1927, the Texas Longhorn was preserved by the United States Government on wildlife refuges in Oklahoma and Nebraska.
Also, a few southwestern cattlemen, convinced of the Longhorn's value as a genetic link and concerned for their preservation, maintained small herds through the years. The Texas Longhorn has been perpetuated further by members of the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America, which was formed in 1964. Thus, the Texas Longhorn was rescued from extinction. It was unfortunate for today's beef industry; however, that most of the continuing interest in the Texas Longhorn was in its historic and academic aspects. The Longhorn's genetic prospects and economic potential were almost completely overlooked for many years.
After seven years of closely observing and studying Texas Longhorns, I am convinced that these cattle may prove to be a real genetic goldmine. Preserving the Texas Longhorn has maintained a substantial amount of unique biological variation which was accumulated over some 400 years in these nature-made cattle. This genetic goldmine provides insurance against genetic erosion that stems from genetic uniformity in our modern cattle breeds. Such genetic erosion could make it almost impossible for cattlemen of today and tomorrow to meet emerging new needs. The reservoir of unique genes of the Texas Longhorn can provide some of the genetic variation and flexibility needed to meet the emerging and future needs of the beef industry. At the same time, the Texas Longhorn maintains genetic diversity capable of maximizing hybrid vigor for man's current needs.
Thus, the reservoir of genetic material in the Texas Longhorn represents a valuable natural resource. This genetic reservoir grows more valuable as our rapidly-changing economy forces new needs, handicaps, and demands on our cattle industry. It becomes increasingly valuable as our human population bites off increasing amounts of our more productive land, as our grain supply moves into international trade, and as farm and ranch labor becomes less available. This is why the Texas Longhorn is rapidly becoming "the old breed with the new future."
By utilizing the Texas Longhorn's unique genetic potential, several of the physical and economic problems confronting the rancher and feeder can be solved or greatly eased. This genetic potential includes genes for high fertility, easy calving, disease and parasite resistance, hardiness, longevity, and the ability to utilize the browse and coarse forage material on marginal rangelands more efficiently than most other cattle breeds. Under the harsh environmental conditions of many areas of North America, the existence of these traits, which have been strongly fixed by nature's culling in the Texas Longhorn, spell the difference between a comfortable profit and the cattle enterprise becoming a "story written in red ink!"
High fertility is the most important economic trait in the beef industry. Without a live calf with which to work, all other traits are purely academic! Unfortunately, many of the European breeds of beef cattle are not noted for high fertility, and several are plagued with real difficulties at calving. During a long period of survival of the fittest, however, a Texas Longhorn strain evolved which virtually assures that every healthy cow will present a new addition to the herd each year. This extremely high fertility, which is built into the Longhorn, could perhaps boost the low calf crop percentage found in many beef herds.
Longhorn Crosses Mean Profit in the Pocket
By Carolyn Hunter in 1996
Today’s cattle producers face the constant challenge of producing high-quality lean beef as economically as possible. In 1991, Texas A&M University began a valuable program to show cow-calf and stocker operators how their cattle fit the needs of the beef industry.
The A&M “Ranch to Rail” program is designed to measure feedlot performance, carcass traits and net dollar return for individual cattle on feed. Cattlemen delivered their calves in the fall to one of two feedlots in Texas where they were tagged, processed, and followed all the way through the feeding phase to slaughter.
The first year, 74 producers from Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma entered 666 steers in the program. Among them were several who sent Texas Longhorn crosses. Gerry Shudde was one of those.
The Sabinal rancher took seven Texas Longhorn/Salers cross calves. Of the seven, five graded choice or select, and carcass percentages were good. However, profits varied widely on the steers, so Shudde went home to make some adjustments in his breeding program – the purpose of “Ranch to Rail”.
He entered five Texas Longhorn/Limousin cross steers in the 1992-93 program. When payday came, Shudde’s steers brought him a return of $91.71 above the average for the “Ranch to Rail” Program. This income was helped by the fact that the Texas Longhorn cross steers had zero medicine costs while the program had an average of $3.44. Death loss was also zero compared to the average $4.74. Carcass value/cwt was $4.30 above the average.
Four of the five steers quality graded choice and one select with yield grades of 1 or 2. The carcasses dressed out at an average of 65.38%, with ribeye area averaging 15 sq.in., ideal for packer boxes. Outside fat came in at an excellent .26” average. Excess fat lowers dressing weight and lowers yield grade, and means more trimming at the packing house.
“The steers returned $733 after feed cost, and ranch expenses came out of that,” says Shudde. “Putting your cattle into feedlots takes a planned system of grazing until they hit 600-700 lbs., but beats the $350-400 they would bring at weaning through an auction.”
Bob Bachman, with Agri Ventures Corporation, Graham, TX, ranches in Texas and New Mexico. He runs mostly Brangus-cross type cows, and uses Longhorn bulls on all his heifers. Bachman sent 19 Longhorn X calves off his first-calf Brangus heifers to the Randall County Feedyards in the Texas Panhandle. His net profit per steer was $17.18 above the “Ranch to Rail North” average. All 19 graded choice or select. Carcass dressing percentages ranged from 62.5% to 71.09%.
Bachman has kept some of his Longhorn-cross heifers as replacement females. His Longhorn-cross cows run on some of his rougher country. He usually keeps a cow as long as her teeth are good and she’s raising a good calf. “Generally, their mouth kinda peters out when they’re somewhere around 10-12 years old. I think the longevity of these Longhorn crosses will be better,” said Bachman in an article in the New Mexico Stockman. “I think we’ll find these half-blood cows might get on out to 14 years. It costs a lot of money to get a calf into production, so if you get two or three years more, it’s just that much money saved.”
Shudde and his wife can’t say enough about their registered Texas Longhorn cows and the cross-calves. “They’re ideal for this brush country,” says Shudde. “They’re small cows that can browse efficiently. Right now, they’ve quit the dry grass and are licking on Huajillo brush. They’re also easier to work than Brahman crosses.”
Janelle Shudde chimes in. “What seems the strongest about our Longhorn crossbreeding program is being able to utilize this breed that has developed such strong ‘survivor’ characteristics such as few birthing problems, range and brush grazing and effective mothering; combine those things to come up with something, not just preserving history, but effective in the production arena of the real world we have to make a living in.”
“I’ve eaten beef all my life, and those Longhorn cross steaks are the best I’ve ever eaten,” says Shudde. “That and the dollars are the bottom line, as far as I’m concerned!”
Source: 1996 TLBAA Breeders Handbook, page 85.