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Soapweed ????

Posted: Mon Feb 20, 2017 1:58 pm
by Big Muddy rancher
Soap since you run black cows and grew up raising Hereford I thought this might be a good question for you and any other reading this that want to ad input.
Do you keep your herd straight bred Angus for a reason or would you consider throwing in some Hereford bulls?
I guess other breeds could count as well but I was just curious what other think.
I have run straight Angus for quite a while but did try a couple Welsh Black bulls and a couple Hereford bulls. I like the WB cross but didn't see big difference in the calves and I like the BWF cow and the str calves.

Remember, no right or wrong answers and I'm not wanting to start a fight. We are ranchers we can be different if we want. :D

Re: Soapweed ????

Posted: Mon Feb 20, 2017 3:42 pm
by PureCountry
I think it depends what you're trying to accomplish Mike. For me I try to keep the cowherd low maintenance, low cost with enough milk to still ring the bell. Then breed those cows to higher performance bulls, maternal herd, terminal sires. Of course we breed some replacements out of a maternal bull as well. I think straight black cows that just keep doing their thing is a great thing to have. Breed them to bulls with a little more oomph to capitalize on hybrid vigor. I've seen fantastic crossbred groups of steers from Angus dams and any number of breeds of bulls come through markets over the years. Limo, Saler and Simmental I think can be done without any increases in calving problems if you choose the right bulls. When you go high octane with Charolais, Gelbvieh, Maine you have a harder time avoiding the calving troubles. There are easy calving bulls in any breed, so I'm just talking averages in my experience.

If we expand our herd again I'm thinking we'll do it more like Grassfarmer did with his Luings - efficient, fertile, milky cows bred to terminal sires. So I'll use my Galloway base herd, cross them to Shorthorn bulls to expand, then use those F1 blue-greys to produce bell ringers out of Simmy, Limo or Gelbvieh bulls. My family roots keep tugging at my heart strings to throw Angus in the mix somewhere too, so time will tell. ;-)

Re: Soapweed ????

Posted: Mon Feb 20, 2017 6:43 pm
by leanin' H
We historically ran Horned Herefords as well and now have a mostly Angus cowherd on my cousins place. The ease of taking the horns of genetically is a big help. He also likes the crossbred steer calves and the hybrid vigor that comes with using Simmy and even a few partial Maine bulls. In my little part of the world, it's hard to beat a nice Angus/Hereford cow. While Herefords will increase frame sizes, they bring many great traits like mother ability and mellowness. Combine that with a good Angus and you have a pretty dandy mother cow. I have always wished I could run 3/4 of a big bunch of cows and only use terminal cross bulls. The other 1/4 would be based purely on maternal traits and that's where the replacement heifers would come from. But since my own cowherd is small, I have stuck to the maternal side of things and have been really happy with the kind of steer calves I raise as well as the heifers. I use AI to get hybrid vigor on my Angus cows and keep any good Angus crossed with Hereford heifer calves. So far, I am happy with the direction. Like Soap, I like moderate cattle. Unlike Soap, I watch EPDs a lot and like moderation there as well. (unless things have changed, he isn't an EPD guy) Our desert environment works best with smaller framed cows who will travel for H2O and grass. Angus cattle seem to do that for us. Adding Hereford doesn't hurt that ability much at all. We have neighbors who run large numbers of straight Angus, some who have a lot of Saler influence, Limo's, Simmys and even a few Gelbvieh. There are several straight Hereford outfits as well, although is a seedstock producer only. To me, matching cattle to your environment and management style is vastly more important than individual breed selection. It does help to have a solid marketing option too if you want to stay in business long-term. :) If nobody wants what you are selling, the checks get smaller quick. And Like BMR said, my opinion is mine alone and not meant to offend others who run cattle differently and successfully. That old cow is a highly adaptable animal, as proven on from Venezuela to British Columbia and from Europe to Australia. :)

Re: Soapweed ????

Posted: Mon Feb 20, 2017 9:29 pm
by Soapweed
Big Muddy rancher wrote:Soap since you run black cows and grew up raising Hereford I thought this might be a good question for you and any other reading this that want to ad input.
Do you keep your herd straight bred Angus for a reason or would you consider throwing in some Hereford bulls?
I guess other breeds could count as well but I was just curious what other think.
I have run straight Angus for quite a while but did try a couple Welsh Black bulls and a couple Hereford bulls. I like the WB cross but didn't see big difference in the calves and I like the BWF cow and the str calves.

Remember, no right or wrong answers and I'm not wanting to start a fight. We are ranchers we can be different if we want. :D

This is an interesting question, and I will try to answer it as diplomatically as possible. :cboy: I have tried many different breeds of cattle through the years (including Hereford, Angus, Red Angus, Simmental, Gelbvieh, Charolais, Saler, Chianina, Maine Anjou, Galloway, Holstein, and Guernsey) and several varieties of horses (including Shetlands, Welch, Quarter Horses, Tennessee Walkers, Missouri Foxtrotters, Paints, Morgans, Arabians, Appaloosas, Belgians, Percherons, and mules). Recently I mentioned to my wife and son that if I had my life to live over, I would stick with Angus cattle and Quarter Horses due to the fact that these seem to be the most marketable and user-friendly.

My dad was a hard-core Hereford breeder for most of his life. He raised both registered and commercial Herefords and sold a lot of bulls through the years. From 1973-1983, he had a bull sale at our ranch. It was promoted as the Green Valley Country Music Hereford Bull Sale, and always featured a dance band with our neighbor Rich Cobb playing marvelous steel guitar. A couple of these bands were Russ Garner and the Renegades and Art Daly and the Buckaroos. The music and trade show were more fun than getting bulls ready for the sale. By the mid 1980’s, you could hardly give a Hereford bull away. They had plumb gone out of style. Dad always sold quite a few yearling Hereford steers, but his long-time private treaty buyer finally leveled with him. He said, “Bob, I really enjoy doing business with you, and I love your nice quiet Hereford steers, but they are too hard to sell to the packers. If you stick with Herefords, I will no longer be able to buy your steers. If you cross them with Angus or something else, we can continue to do business.” This was a tremendous wake-up call for my dad, and he was wise enough to change his ways. Soon he was crossing his Hereford cows with Black Angus, Red Angus, and Gelbvieh, and was thus able to keep selling heavy yearling steers that were in demand. By about 1990, Dad had just about completely phased out of Herefords.

In the mid 1970’s, I had traded my Hereford cows to Dad for some nice young Angus cows that he had purchased when they were heifer calves. I crossed them with Hereford bulls and raised some nice baldy replacement heifers. When these Black Baldy females came of age and had delivered two calves sired by Angus bulls, I decided to “go for the free lunch” and cross them with Charolais terminal sires. This worked very well. One year I didn’t have enough baldy cows for as many Charolais bulls as we had, so I added some straight Angus cows to the pasture. The next spring the Angus cows raised Charolais sired calves that were even better and more uniform than what the baldies produced. The calves with straight Angus mothers were all white colored with black noses. The baldy cows had good calves, but there was more color variation, and many of the calves had pink noses. Believe it or not, the buyers seem to prefer the black noses.

One spring I attended a Charolais yearling bull sale. It was kind of a stormy day, and there were bargains galore. I bid on a couple bulls during the sale, and soon realized that there weren’t very many live bidders on the seats. I quit bidding. After the sale, I bought eight more bulls for $900 apiece, and the seller and I each contributed $12.50 per bull to the sale barn for their commission. (A year or two previous I had purchased a gelding that had been “no-saled” at a horse sale. I had inadvertently forgotten/neglected to pay commission, and the penalty was getting kicked out of the auction barn with the request to not come back. This had kind of hurt my pride, and it took a bit of finagling to earn the privilege to once again attend sales. I didn’t want this to happen again over a bunch of bargain bulls.) Anyway, I used these nice Charolais bulls that summer. In the fall of the year, a friend wanted to know if he could rent some bulls for his fall calving herd. He was going to use Angus bulls. My bulls were scattered over an 800 acre pasture, and by the time we had ridden horseback through all the bulls which were scattered far and wide, he asked if it would be okay to change his mind and use Charolais bulls. I said, “Of course.” We rode back through the pasture and gathered different bulls. He then asked if I would consider selling these bulls. I priced them for $1250 each, and he was delighted with his ten-bull purchase. I was equally delighted to have used these bulls all summer and still make $350 per head.

I can sure make a short story long. The next year was the last year we had Charolais cross calves to sell. Then we used all black bulls, and I was worried that our weights would suffer. Some of our black bulls had enough Gelbvieh in them that our weights actually were better. There were some calving problems associated with the Gelbvieh, as well as udder problems from too much milk. We have pretty much stuck with straight Angus cattle for the past several years. It is nice not to have to deal with horns. It’s easy to pick replacement heifers. Both heifers and steers that are straight Angus seem fairly easy to sell.

I do admire Red Angus. They might be some of the best cattle around these days. They seem to bring a premium over Black Angus in this day and time. Our nearest neighbor has some real nice Red Angus. It works well that he has red and we have black, because it is easy to spot a mix-up. We have built up a pretty fair Black Angus cowherd. They satisfy my needs, but if the Kosmo Kid (my son Brock) desires to experiment with other breeds again, that will be his prerogative. I will personally stick with the Black Angus. Even though I like Quarter Horses (and Paints), in this stage of my life, it has been fairly easy to trade in my saddle horses for a Polaris Ranger. With this I can cover a lot of miles, and being saddle-sore and weary seems to no longer be much of a problem.

To give a simple answer to your question, Big Muddy, I guess we keep our herd straight Angus because it is the easiest and most efficient way we have found to raise cattle.

Re: Soapweed ????

Posted: Mon Feb 20, 2017 10:26 pm
by Big Muddy rancher
Thanks for all you guys replying, any other are sure welcome to comment.

I have been pretty much staying straight Angus just like you Soap as it is the easiest way to get by. I have experimented a little bit just to satisfy a bit of curiosity but no big wholesale changes of direction. I find the worst part about using some terminal sires is I breed most of the cows in one pasture and don't sort off cows to raise replacements.

Re: Soapweed ????

Posted: Mon Feb 20, 2017 11:41 pm
by Faster horses
We are friends with an 80-year old good cowman who happened to be a Horned Hereford man in the past. In fact, he was selected as Hereford Man of the Year at one point. He crossed the Hereford cows with Black Angus bulls for several years and kept some black baldie cows. He sold them all in the sale ring at one point. He told me "that first cross is dynamite, but it's downhill from there."

We kept our cows straight black angus and never regretted it. Never had any calving problems, calves were easy to sell. We did notice the cows were getting more nasty and we really watched the disposition (or so we thought). We traced those nasty cows back to certain bulls. Cows on our place had a lot of reason NOT to be nasty, so we were disappointed when they seemed to get worse. Like Soapweed, we appreciate Red Angus. If we had to start over, I do think we would go with Red Angus. When we changed from Herefords back in 1979, there weren't many Red Angus available. I've always liked them and I think they are more gentle that Black Angus. As you age, that is more important. :D

Re: Soapweed ????

Posted: Tue Feb 21, 2017 9:50 am
by rancherfred
My grandfather started with a straight Hereford herd when he came home from the army after WWII. He kept it that way for quite a few years, but by the late 60s or early 70s it had become apparent that they needed to make a change. They purchased a couple of black Angus bulls that turned out to have significant disposition problems. They got rid of them and purchased some Red Angus bulls and have been using them every since. During the 80s they used a lot of Saler on those cattle and the 1/4X3/4 Saler/RA cross was just about the best cows we have ever had on the place. Unfortunately, by the end of the 80s you couldn't give away a Saler influenced calf. So we went back to RA. Then we tried Gelbvieh and quickly gave that up. We dabbled with south devon for a number of years but couldn't keep condition on those cattle without pouring the grain to them. Back to RA until we saw the first solid red Simm bulls. That really looked like the answer to our search for the other breed to put on our RA to maintain hybrid vigor. After a few years the disposition problem has become so blindingly obvious that we can no longer ignore it. So back to RA we go and I have every intention of staying there for as long as I am in business.

Crossbreeding is fine, as long as there is a reason to do it. If you are doing it just because you think you need to have heterosis, well I am not sure that that is a good enough reason to do it. I have decided that I need to do a better job of matching my cattle to the marketing programs that I have the greatest chance of profiting from. I am calving in May and June, which means a calf-fat is going to finish in the summer months at an historically low market. Sending 5-6 wt calves to market in late winter or early spring for the grass market has treated us very well. I can't do that if I have a calf wean at 5-6 wt in early winter. I am not going to intentionally chose low growth bulls, but I am also not going to pursue crossbreeding any longer because I simply don't need that growth. From a marketing standpoint it hurts me. The other side of my marketing is bred heifers. If you can sell, even a commercial, RA bred heifer you will get a premium over any other red cross, many times even a premium over a black Angus heifer.

To me crossbreeding is just another tool in my management toolbox. It is neither good or bad, it just is something to utilize in order to improve profitability. Unfortunately it is often used as the hammer in the empty toolbox. As the old saying goes, "If all you have is a hammer, everything is a nail." You need to have an idea of where you are trying to end up with crossbreeding or you will end up just one more wreck like we saw out of all of those messes in the 80s and 90s with their bull of the month purchases.

Re: Soapweed ????

Posted: Tue Feb 21, 2017 11:21 am
by RSL
This is an interesting one. We started with Red Angus back in the late 70's, largely because of the performance data. I remember driving 7 hours to go look at Red Angus bulls, looking at the data on the computer of the breeder, and then going out to look at bulls and driving home. We drove back about 2 months later for the bull sale. It was probably about 1980 or 81. We used some SM fleckvieh type bulls on those cows around the mid to late 80s. We used some HE bulls through the 80s and had some very good calves.
When I was 12 years old I took my 4-H money and went a bought 2 purebred black angus heifers (one bred, one open). It was about 1988. At the time there were only a few black cattle around. We grew the black thing over the 90s with some heifers from around Prince Albert, SK. Now we are pretty well straight black, although we have used some Black SM with very good success, although those females have more frame than the straight Angus, the calves are tougher when they are born. Currently we have used a lot of sexed semen and have quite a pile of Cedar Ridge heifers that I am pretty excited to breed this year.
Over the years at our place we have found that the SM with lots of milk, stay skinny, but moderate ones are pretty good. South Devons have a tough go and framey Angus cattle with lots of milk are about the worst cows you can have. With care and moderation the AN cattle have been pretty laid back for us. It always seems easy to throw out an extra bale or two when you see a skinny cow, but it is usually cheaper in the long run, to dispose of them and reassess the breeding program to make sure you are on track if there are too many. We have used CH bulls and like them, but they have not really fit into our recent expansion. The nice thing about CH bulls is it is easy to tell which heifers to get rid of. We have used ultrasound data for every sire purchase since at least 2000 and rely heavily on EPD and a plan when selecting sires (not biggest, bestest, baddest) and it seems to work for us.

Re: Soapweed ????

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2017 1:26 pm
by Shortgrass
This is interesting to read. My uncle had a good string of Herefords, and decided to put Char bulls on them. He raised some eyebrows, and was dubbed nuts for messing up that good string of Herford cows. Turns out he was on the cutting edge, and soon lots of people had Char bulls, then came Limys, followed by several continental breeds. I just grew up thinking Unc was a master cattleman, so I naturally migrated to the cattle that had been good to him. They have been good to me, mostly because they are what I learned to like and deal with. I experimented crossing them every which way, and went back to the straight Char. The Black Angus cross was producing too many rat tails by using Black bulls on Char cows, which is what I had to work with. I eventually ventured out to cross them again, this time with Red Angus. That has been good for the last 4 - 5 years. I have developed a program resulting with Hybrid Vigor, with saleable calves and productive females. What I have learned over the years, is what most of you already knew, if you cross cattle, don't use too similar of breeds; I crossed cattle that were too much alike and did not like the results. Straight breeding will deliver more consistency and predictability. If Red Angus go out, I would likely go back to Char bulls again, because that is what I know and like. That would not be right for the whole industry, but there are enough feeders out there that like Char cattle to keep a few of us going. I believe the industry is doing the right thing as a whole.

Re: Soapweed ????

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2017 2:54 pm
by Jake
We've had about everything under the sun on our place at one point or another. Grandpa started the beef herd in the 70's with F1 Hereford/Holstein cows. Bred those back hereford and built a herd with them. Used a few angus bulls, quite a few fleckvieh bulls and eventually got to having about half and half charolais and angus bulls around. The char cross cows were big nice cows and were profitable, but they required more management and feed than the simangus cross cows. Over the past 20 years we've gone to almost entirely angus bulls outside of a few amerifax. Has seemed that we've made far greater improvements to the herd and bottom line by focusing on the right angus genetics and concentrating on them. There's no such thing as a free lunch and I believe that's true with cross breeding as well. I'm going to give up something to gain the heterosis, quantifying that can be hard and it's incredibly hard to convince a die hard crossbreeder that there are other profitable ways to operate.

Re: Soapweed ????

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2017 3:47 pm
by Nesikep
Always love hearing what other people are doing and how it works out.

We started off with a bunch of HORRIBLE mutts that had problems galore.. though now after 25 years or so I think the bloodlines of all the worst offenders has been taken care of and I can start focusing on some of the "wishlist" parts of my cowherd. The cows we started with were usually about 1/2 or more Hereford, with a fair sprinkling of Red angus, and some Simm blood way back when... We always got the best bulls we could get, the first two were at least reserve champions, and the rest since then never went to shows, but were decent animals (except 1).. Starting from the beginning, the breeds were Red Angus, Saler, Shorthorn x2, Gelbvieh, and now a Limousin.
As much as the breeds we have used changed, for the most part we had an idea of the phenotype we were going for, though there have been curves and forks in that road as well. I've also just started using one of my homeraised bulls and will see how he does with decent cows this spring.. last year his calves were all from heifers or "substandard" cows, and he did alright, so I used him over a fair number of better cows last breeding season.. I'm excited to see what it produces.
Gelbvieh has been the most reliable bull to get nice steers from, and some of my top cows are 1/2 Gelbvieh.. GV over SH makes for a great cow, moderating the SH frame from what is sometimes a Frame 8 down to a 5 or 6 and fills the butt out nicely.. GV x Saler looks really nice too, though I'm down to 1/4 max Saler blood in any cow, again the GV moderates the frame and fills them out.
Limo has been more hit-and-miss, really doesn't work with the SH and Saler cows.. My particular Limo bull is a particularly framey guy, though he has good meat.. I'll have to see how his heifers work (first ones have first calves this spring)... Limo over the GVx cows has had far better results with some really nice animals coming from that.

In all, I plan to see what I can do by alternating between homeraised bulls and bought bulls.. Linebreed a few lines of my best cows and try to lock in the right parts, but not test the waters with both feet, meanwhile in my purchased bulls I'll pay closer and closer attention to the finer details of them, try and chose ones that can improve where I see my herd is lacking, without losing ground where I think I've got it right.. I've sold a couple crossbred bulls to friends and neighbors and there have been no complaints about it so far except for one that broke his pecker over the winter and didn't pass his BSE

This heifer has turned out to be one of my best cows, her first calf was small, her second was average, and since then they have been exceptional.. She's not that big at about 1300 lbs but her steers have topped the weight of the entire herd, and raised heifers that are a spitting image of her.

Her full brother that is my current homeraised bull (white socks) he had the "look" to him since small, and he's turned out pretty good.. Beating up on the much bigger Limo bull now.

And the bull I sold to a friend of mine.. 7/8th brother to the one above and full brother to another of my best cows.. He's 4 years old here and I'm thinking I might want him back for a year or two.

Re: Soapweed ????

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2017 8:51 pm
by Big Muddy rancher
Those bulls sure made a mess of that green house. :wink: :cowboy: :D