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.
This is an interesting question, and I will try to answer it as diplomatically as possible.
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.