By Russell Hooks May 2011
I have been in the Longhorn business for over 30 yrs. I have seen a lot of ups and downs in that amount of time, including the high cattle prices of the oil boom era of the early 1980’s as well as the lows after the oil bust in the late 80’s and early 90’s. The industry went from seeing sale averages of $3,500 and up to watching averages fall to $600-$1,000. Before the fall of the market, the high-selling lots at most sales where in excess of $10,000 with several world record prices set during this time period. There were bull syndications being done on top bulls in the industry in amounts exceeding $2 million.
When all this started coming to an end, there were several things that helped keep the industry going which included, a good market for recreational cattle (ropers) and commercial cattlemen’s use of Longhorn cattle. Mainly Longhorn bulls to breed first calf heifers of other breeds. This was, in part, due to a strong national promotional advertising effort made by the association and breeders to appeal to the commercial cattlemen about the benefits of using Longhorn genetics. A good market ($800-$1,200) for the solid colored Longhorn bulls was one of the results. Bull calves had value not just as ropers, but as a first calf heifer bulls. This added to the bull calf’s value as a roper because there were fewer bull calves being sold as ropers. This promotional campaign also resulted in a good market for lower end cattle for use in commercial cow/calf operations. With a solid and realistic market price established for ropers, bulls, and the lower end cattle, the market for the better cattle started to slowly recover. As this started to happen, more and more people started to get involved in the Longhorn industry because they could see that the Longhorn could be as profitable or more profitable than any other registered breed of cattle or a commercial cattle operation. This renewed interest helped increase prices of Longhorn cattle at all levels of quality but it started at the bottom and worked its way up. Click for complete article.