Every year we try to do better. In our breeding program we focus on cattle type, a balance of important traits, and an ability to forage and grow beef in our environment. We do not subsidize our cattle, therefore they are more acclimated to the environment. We cull deep every year.
Our breeding program, selection criteria, and environment are tough. We do not feed hay, grain, cubes, or protein licks to any of our cattle 365 days a year. This means the cows, calves, heifers, and bulls must perform on forage and forage alone.
Our 60-day breeding period is from August 21 to October 21, which includes some of the hottest days of the year. Our bulls and cows must perform in this environment if they are to stay here. Our calving season is from May 27 to July 27. When retained heifers are two years old, they join the mature cow herd for their first breeding season so they'll calve at 36 months of age. The heifers compete with the cows. No pampering.
Every bull is an individual. Yet we work real hard trying to make them all the same. Our program has always selected for an optimizing balance (not the most or least) of the measurable EPD traits. But we found that when we used outcross sires, that defused our genetics rather than focused them, plus the added hybrid vigor gave us false signals of performance that could not be passed on to the commercial bull buyer. That is only one of the many fallacies we discovered first hand from the industry's growing reliance on EPDs. The industry's reliance on EPDs and outcrossing is also why you hear so many complaints these days about the lack of uniformity and predictability in the nation's cattle. This is why we are now linebreeders. Consequently, every bull on the ranch was born here, even our herd sires. (In 2004 we did purchase two bulls from Jim Lents linebred herd that goes back 120 years. It's an experiment that's still being watched.)
Most of our bulls are priced at $2,500, some are less expensive. There are a few that we are more reluctant to part with and they cost more. We know most cattlemen don't believe in nor understand what we are doing. They want pretty, long, tall, grain-fat bulls with "fat" butts. If you are in that category please don't call or come around and waste our time. We have better things to do. But if you understand our goals and are serious about a bull, please call and come and visit.
Sometimes our bulls look rough. The yearlings rarely exhibit their full muscling potential. Our bulls have larger rumens. They grow slower because they are not fed grain. In fact, 12-month old bulls weigh around 650 pounds -- if we're lucky. Two-year old bulls weigh around 1,000 pounds. Three-year old bulls weigh around 1,400 pounds, and so on. It takes at least five years before a bull reaches his mature weight and then he'll never weigh as much as he would if he had been pushed with grain. So our bulls will not give their owners a lot of bragging rights at the coffee shop. (But they sure work great with the banker.)
A bull's genetics influences 50% of your calf crop. If a bull breeds 25 cows per season, the genetics of each cow has only a 2% impact on the total outcome. And, according to Texas A&M data, the average rancher in our area has invested an average of $3,500 per cow in his operation. So the investment in the bull is insignificant in the big picture, yet it greatly influences future financial results. For this reason cattlemen should be more concerned about economic and environmental sustainability than they are in coffee shop bragging rights. Our bulls are bred and selected to meet the economic and environmental challenges.
Bulls that have been fed grain grow faster than bulls raised on grass. Therefore, as yearlings grain-fed bulls can have a lot of eye appeal and exhibit more “muscling” than forage-raised bulls, even though their genetics are the same. But as they mature, as we said before forage-raised bulls "catch up" with the grain-fed bulls and they too will exhibit the strong muscling traits that were bred into them. And best of all, because they were not fed grain, forage-raised bulls will be healthier, far better breeding bulls for their entire productive lives, and more acclimated to getting the job done in the real world.
When you select bulls, look at the breeders’ programs. Just because a bull has a “good ‘ol bull” for a sire doesn't mean he'll be a “good ‘ol bull” too. Especially if he's the product of outcrossing. And if he was raised with subsidies, how do you know he'll work, or his daughters will work, if you don't pamper them like the breeder pampered his cattle? Did the bull breeder manage in fertility with the feed bucket, or was he selecting for fertility by culling? Did the breeder prove to you that he could raise table beef with minimum inputs? Did the breeder's cattle win at the big shows eating out of a feed bucket, or did his cattle earn their keep by grazing in the snow without any hay, grain, cubes, or protein licks.
You're in the beef business. But the name of the game is to raise cattle that work in your environment with minimum subsidies and put a good eating experience on the table. To do this with uniformity and predictability, your bulls must be linebred and you can't use more than a two-breed cross. Plus, your bulls have to have had years of selection behind them based on doability rather than pampering. Nearly all pampered cattle can get by–if they are pampered.
Herefords are famous for being good hustlers on forage. They are also famous for creating a superior eating experience. When you combine their inherent good traits with superior selection and breeding from a good breeder, there's nothing better in the business than a Polled Hereford.
Give us a call when you're ready to invest in a real bull--a performance tested, forage-raised, linebred Slanker's Polled Hereford bull.
Call us and let's talk bulls.
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
A 100%, Forage-Raised Slanker Bull.