Bull Buyer’s Bill of Rights

I. All data is accurately reported and is being used.

It is vital when you are buying bulls that you are able to accurately assess the genetic merit of the bulls being offered. Only if all data is reported will this occur. If only the best cattle are reported, then half of the best will ratio below 100, and will not reflect their true merit relative to the cow herd. Long term, it will affect the performance values of their dams and future calves. In addition, you should be able to expect that your supplier is using the data collected to make true genetic progress in their herd.

II. My bull supplier provides Expected Progeny Differences for comparative value.

Not only is it important for you to be able to compare the relative merit between bulls in an offering, through weights and ratios, it is important to be able to evaluate the merit of the bulls being offered compared to all bulls available. The only tool available to compare bulls from different programs and in various locations and environments, are EPDs. Data turned in by your bull supplier and others, is compared in their breed’s National Cattle Evaluation and EPDs are reported.

III.  My bull supplier is able to explain the meaning of the various EPD values and offers council in their use.

There are many EPD values being reported by many different breed associations. Your bull supplier should be able to explain the various EPDs, their meaning in your program and their merits. In many instances bigger is not always better. Many traits are antagonistic and you should be aware of the consequences. For example, Yearling Weight EPD and mature cow size are highly correlated, how big is too big in your program? Milking ability, especially if carried to the extreme, or if nutrition becomes a limiting factor, is highly antagonistic to reproductive performance.

IV. My bull supplier is aware of my program and goals and is willing to assist in selection of bulls that fit my goals.

Part of the bond and trust between buyer and seller is the sharing of goals and information that becomes a two way street. Your producer should be attuned to your needs and assist you in selecting bulls to meet those goals. They raised the bulls you are buying, and in many cases, their dams and grand dams. They can identify the bulls with the complementary traits you seek, and keep you from getting into wrecks when working with multiple antagonistic traits, better than anyone else.

V. My bull supplier is using all applicable technology to help accomplish my goals.

There are many tools available today to assist you in accomplishing your goals. Ultrasound technology is useful in evaluating carcass traits, diagnosing pregnancy status and sexing pregnancies. Feed efficiency is being measured and tested, if you are using this in your operations. DNA technology is becoming more and more useful as additional markers are identified.

VI. My bull supplier is industry current.

Your bull supplier should be aware of the industry, trends in supply and demand, and market forces at work shaping long term trends. They should be aware of the technology available and adapt the useful tools when the cost and return justify the investment. In other words, when the amount of meaningful information and data produced by the technology and its value equals the cost, they should invest in the technology.

VII. My bull supplier develops his bulls with their longevity in mind.

Your bull supplier should provide an environment and plane of nutrition that allows the bulls to express their genetic differences for growth, while providing them with adequate exercise. The bulls should be well developed while maintaining their athleticism and cleanliness of joints.

VIII. My Bull Supplier has a comprehensive heard health program.

The health of your bull begins with the health of the cowherd. From a regular de-worming program to a preventative vaccination program, your bull provider should maintain good herd health. You should be assured that your bull purchase will not introduce disease into your program.

IX. My bull supplier stands behind his bull in case of product failure.

No bull supplier ever plans to have a bull he sells go bad. But as sure as death and taxes, some bulls will fail. Your supplier should recognize this fact and assist you in rectifying the problem.

X. My bull supplier is breeding cattle that fit my long term goals.

You should examine your long term goals. You should examine the long term goals of your supplier and be comfortable that you can build a long term bond and trust with that supplier as you continue to develop your program.

TBBA Miss America Sale

TBBA Miss America SALE Soars!

1 Herd Sire Prospect grosses $5800 to average $5800
2 Fall Pairs gross $9500 to average $4750
9 Spring Pairs gross $40,400 to average $4489
7 Fall Bred Females gross $21,450 to average $3065
16 Open Heifers gross $51,300 to average $3207

35 Total Lots gross $128,450 to average $3670

Brangus breeders and enthusiasts gathered in Salado, TX for good cattle, fellowship and food at the annual Texas Brangus Breeders Association weekend.  Friday night was the annual membership meeting and social followed on Saturday with the TBBA Miss America Sale.

Texas Brangus Breeders gather for the annual membership meeting and social before the sale.

Texas Brangus Breeders gather for the annual membership meeting and social before the sale.


Thirty five head representing 18 breeders across Texas sold on a beautiful day and were well received by the buying public.  53 buyers representing TX, AL, MS and MO were on hand to evaluate the offering.  The high selling lot was Lot 8, CB MS Blanda 415X5 with an LTD bull calf at side, consigned by Cavender Ranches and purchased for $7,250 by Rancho Los Pinos of Hempstead, TX.  Following her was another spring pair, Lot 7, MS HLC Next Step Pathfinder 381Y2 with a Captian Jack heifer calf at side consigned by Hodde Land and Cattle bringing $6,000 to Genesis Ranch, Columbus, TX.

The high selling open heifer was Lot 27, a Black Gold granddaughter consigned by Triple Crown Ranch and selling to Myles Hackstedt of Needville, TX for $6,000.  The second high selling open heifer was lot 34, a Jethro daughter sold by Schoenig Land and Cattle to McMurtry Farms of Troy, TX for $4,000.

The high selling fall pair was DCC Ms Blackhawk News 2 T2 consigned by Dillard Land and Cattle, selling for $5,000 to Donnie Dippel of LaGrange, TX.  One herd sire prospect was consigned by Indian Hills Ranch and sold for $5,800 to McCreary Farms of Evergreen, AL.

A donation lot consigned by Skyhawk Brangus, Lingg Brangus and JLS International sold for $3,700 to Triple Crown Ranch, Angleton, TX.  This lot was sold for the benefit of the TJBBA.

Volume buyer Larry Franke and his daughter of Karnes City, TX with Sale Chaiman, Joe Dillard (left) and TBBA President, Russ Williamson (right).

Volume buyer Larry Franke and his daughter of Karnes City, TX with Sale Chaiman, Joe Dillard (left) and TBBA President, Russ Williamson (right).

Volume buyers include Las Tres Hermanas, Larry Franke, of Karnes City, TX; Doguet’s Diamond D Ranch of McCoy, TX; and Genesis Ranch, Mike & Gloria Weathers, of Columbus, TX.

SVF Spring 2013 Bull Sale and Customer Appreciation Sale

Buyers from 12 States Power Salacoa Valley Brangus Female and Bull Sale

3 Brangus Donor Cows Grossed $15,400 to Average $5134
10 Fall Brangus 3N1s Grossed $40,650 to Average $4,065
7 Fall Bred Brangus Females Grossed $19,500 to Average $2,786
21 Spring calving Brangus Females Grossed $47,750 to Average $2,274
20 Open Brangus Heifers Grossed $41,250 to Average $2,063

61 Brangus Females Grossed $164,550 to Average $2,700

52 Brangus Bulls Grossed $187,800 to Average $3,612
4 Commercial and Ultrablack Bulls Grossed $10,650 to Average $2,663

117 total Lots Grossed $363,000 to Average $3,103

79 buyers from 12 states were on hand to snap up the offering from female consignors and friends of Salacoa Valley, and the good Brangus bulls of SVF.

Brangus seedstock demand continues to build across the country. Salacoa Valley Farms “We Run the Numbers Sale” saw perfect spring weather and a torrid and steady demand for registered Brangus Females and Bulls. 79 buyers from 12 states were on hand to snap up the offering from female consignors and friends of Salacoa Valley, and the good Brangus bulls of SVF.

The day’s top selling female was Lot 41, Ms Brinks Csonka 468T47 and her Singletary bred heifer calf at side, consigned by Cuevas T3 Brangus, Purvis, MS. This Csonka daughter ranks in the breed’s top 1% for an impressive 5 EPD traits and sold to Draggin M Brangus, El Dorado, AR, for $9,000.

Lot 7, SVF Ms 535R40 and her Csonka bull calf at side, was the second high selling lot. This Transformer sired female was AIed back to the $55,000 New Concept herd sire. The Oaks Farms, Newnan, GA, paid $5,250 to own this outstanding consignment from Clover Ranch, Marietta, GA.

Selling for $4,750 was Lot 63. This outstanding open ET heifer sired by Patton, posted EPDs of .66 REA and .23 IMF. She was consigned by Charlie Israel, Birmingham AL, and sold to Lake Majestik, Flat Rock AL. Also selling for $4,750 was lot 36, HF Miss Lead Gun 535T. This 3N1, with a fall Bodine heifer calf at side, was safe back to Something Special.. She was consigned by Haynes Farms, Ashland AL, and purchased by Phillip DeSalvo, Center Ridge, AR. Cold Creek Ranch, Marietta, GA consigned Lot 39, Cold Creek Ms Newt 1302X with her spring bull calf sired by 331X78. Draggin M Ranch, Eldorado paid $4,70 for this pair.

Charles Crochet, buyer of the high selling bull, pictured with (from left) David Vaughan, Susan Vaughan, Charles, Tommy Barnes, Mark Cowan, Chris Heptinstall.

Charles Crochet, buyer of the high selling bull, pictured with (from left) David Vaughan, Susan Vaughan, Charles, Tommy Barnes, Mark Cowan, Chris Heptinstall.

The top selling bull of the day, at $22,000, was purchased by Crochet Cattle Co., Lafayette, La. This big ribbed, deep sided, heavy boned herd sire is by Patton and his dam is the $18,500, 23 T721 donor now owned by Lake Majestik. He posts EPDs in the breed’s top 3% REA, 4% WW, 10% YW and 30% IMF.

The second high selling bull of the day was Lot 114. This powerful and clean made R532 son boasted negative BW and one of the biggest REA EPDs in the sale. He was purchased by WET Farms, O’Brien, FL for $6,000.

The third high selling bull was Lot 100 for $5,750. Shoestring Ranch, Roxton, TX purchased this super complete Blanda son with the 78 lbs birth weight and big growth numbers. His dam posts top 2% of the breed WW, YW, SC and REA EPDs.

Volume Buyers for the day included, Watkins Citrus and Cattle, Avon Park, FL, Three S Farms, Social Circle, GA, Draggin M Brangus, El Dorado, AR and the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Miller Spring 2013 Sale Report

Brangus Demand Great in the “Vol” State

 Pick of 2012 Heifer Calf Crop Grossed $15,000.00 to Average $15,000.00
2 Donors Grossed $9,000.00 to Average $4,500.00
17 Fall 3N1s Grossed $52,700.00 to Average $3,100.00
35 Spring Calving Cows Grossed $89,400.00 to Average $2,554.29
4 Fall Bred Cows and Heifers Grossed $7,300.00 to Average $1,825.00
12 Open Heifers Grossed $21,450.00 to Average $1,787.50

 71 Brangus Female Lots Grossed $194,850 to Average $2,744


Warm hospitality, cold temperatures and a hot offering greeted 43 buyers from eleven states gathered in Waynesboro, Tennessee, as Miller Brangus hosted their second annual female sale featuring “Cattle You Can Count On”. Owners, Bert, Doyle and E.D. Miller, manager Bart Pope,  their families were host to an ever increasing crowd of enthusiastic Brangus breeders as well as friends and guest consignors.


Buyers evaluate the cattle penned on a beautiful hillside at Miller Brangus near Waynesboro, TN.


A full crowd fills the tent to begin the auction.


Van Hardin, Black X Ranch, Rome, Georgia paid $15,000 to own Lot 1 in the sale, the pick of the Miller Brangus 2012 heifer calf crop. His choice was MB Hannibal 75Z3, a big performing, balanced trait daughter of Hannibal out of the growth trait leader, Revelation.

Lot 29, MB Ms Lead Gun 302U5 and her Eligido son, were the second high selling lot of the day at $5,600. Barnett Brangus, Clarksville, TN was the purchaser of this big performing female who balances growth and carcass to a high degree. Her heavy boned, well balanced, bull calf at side made her one of the most attractive packages of the day, and this 3N1 was safe back the same way. She was consigned by Miller Brangus.

Blue Ribbon Farms, Mark Snowden, Pachuta, MS was the purchaser of the third high selling lot. He paid $5,300 to own lot 15, another Miller Brangus consignment, MB Ms Real Deal 329U and her spring bull calf sired by Great Basin. This deep sided, heavy milking cow ranks in the breed’s top 3% WW, 5% YW, 4% Milk and recorded 2 @ 111 WR.

The Miller family oversees a successful sale.

The Miller family oversees a successful sale.

Black X  struck again as they paid $5,000 to own Lot 27, the proven donor, MB Nimitz 129T9. This powerful female records 3 @ 109 and ranks in the breed’s top 1% for Milk EPD. Truitt Brangus Farm, Auburn, AL, also paid $5,000 to own Lot 2B, the pick Lot, MB Ms Tank 000Y14 and her Lead Gun heifer calf at side. She ranks in the breed’s top 1% WW, 2% YW and 4% REA and her dam is a full sister to Bear Bryant and New Direction.

Volume buyers included Kim Dunn, Apopka, FLA, Green River Farms, Waynesboro, TN and Barnett Brangus, Clarksville, TN.

Ideal Video Productions Customer Appreciation Sale

Demand for Brangus Genetics Red Hot!


6 Donors Grossed $163,500.00 to Average $27,250.00
7 Flushes Grossed $81,000.00 to Average $11,571.43
7 Open Heifers Grossed $70,000.00 to Average $10,000.00
3 Bred Heifers Grossed $25,000.00 to Average $8,333.33
1 Embryo Lot Grossed $40,500.00 to Average $40,500.00
1 Semen Lot Grossed $5,500.00 to Average $5,500.00
25 Total Lots Grossed $385,500.00 to Average $15,420.00

A standing room only crowd of enthusiastic Brangus breeders were on hand to snap up the first annual Ideal Video Customer Appreciation Sale offering. Bidding was torrid as buyers from twelve states and two foreign countries competed to own the elite Black and Red Brangus females, herd sires and genetic packages represented in this offering.

When the gavel fell in a hotly contested battle, Lake Majestik Farms, Flat Rock  AL., claimed the high bid at $45,000 for  Lot 7, Ms Brinks Lambert 803T6. She ranks in the breed’s top 3% for IMF and boasts 9 traits above breed average. She is the dam of the $80,000 CB Passport 803Y11 and was consigned by Burke Brangus Farm, Waynesboro, GA and Truitt Brangus Farm, Auburn, AL.

Lot 1 was the next high selling genetic package as Schmidt Farms, Simms, TX sold 50 embryos from their young and elite donor cows in packages of 5. Embryo packages ranged from $5,500 to $2,000 and buyers including Lunar Brangus from Australia, and domestic buyers, Lake Majestik, Valusek-Payne Show Cattle, Genesis Ranch, Cavender Brangus, Chimney Rock Cattle Co, Draggin M Brangus and Miller Brangus.

Westall Ranch, Arabela, NM paid $40,000 to own Lot 5, Ms Brinks GD Fortune 541P103. She is a proven donor with impeccable credentials, a 9 embryo per flush average and well over $150,000 in progeny sales to date. She is by the feed efficiency king, Good Fortune and has placed females in many of the leading herds in the breed. She was consigned by Draggin M Ranch, Eldorado, AR.

Lot 4 was the fourth high selling female as Bushley Creek Cattle Co and Cross N Farm, both of Olla, LA, paid $29,000 to own Ms CRC Csonka 263U3. She is a maternal sister to one of the heaviest used AI sires in the breed, CRC Landau 263X2. She also ranks in the breed’s top 1% REA and 4% YW. She was consigned by Clem Brangus, New Summerfield, TX and Michael Bennett, Tennessee Colony, TX.

Lake Majestik struck again with the winning bid of $20,000 to own Lot 6, Ms Brinks Singletary 541T42. She is one of the true power cows in the breed ranking in the top 1% YW, 3% REA, 4% WW and 5% IMF EPDs. This big bodied matron was consigned by Cavender Brangus, Troup TX.

$18,500 was the winning bid by Valusek-Payne Show Cattle, Rosharon, TX to Own Lot 3, SVF Lead Gun 23T721. She is sired by the incomparable Lead Gun and out of the MVP of SVF, 23M28. She is balanced in herr EPD make up and averages 17 embryos per flush. She was consigned by Salacoa Valley Farms, Fairmount, GA.

Volume Buyers were Lake Majestik, Westall Ranches and Bushley Creek Cattle Co.

HLSR All Breeds Bull Sale and Commercial Female Sale

It was another great year at the Houston Stock Show and Rodeo All Breeds Sales and Cattlemen’s Days.  On Wednesday, February 27th, bulls of all breeds were in high demand as 86 bulls averaged over $4000.  The overall high grading bull this year was exhibited by B&C Cattle Co. of Miami, TX and also fetched top dollar at $11,500.  W4 Ranch of Morgan, TX had the 2nd and 3rd high selling bulls at $10,000 and $7,000.

Eared bulls continued to be in high demand as 7 Brangus bulls averaged $4393 with Bradley Hodde of Diamond H Land & Cattle exhibiting the high grading Brangus bull and having the 4th high selling bull of the day for $6500.  3 Brahman bulls averaged $4417 with Tic Tac Toe Ranch exhibiting the 5th overall high grading bull.

Championship Banners for B&C Cattle Co. along with some prospective buyers.

Championship Banners for B&C Cattle Co. along with some prospective buyers.

On Saturday, March 2nd, Bradley Hodde, Diamond H Land and Cattle, continued his banner spring with the Grand Champion pen of commercial females.  They were a set of Chocolate F1 Brahman x Hereford 1st calf cows with 44 Farms Angus sired calves at side.  This fancy pen of females garnered $3100 per head.

Grand Champion Commercial Females exhibited by Hodde Land and Cattle.

Grand Champion Commercial Females exhibited by Hodde Land and Cattle.

Demand for commercial females remained high throughout the sale as commercial cattlemen had a positive attitude about the beef industry and spring green-up.

Value of Eared Feeder Cattle

Joe C. Paschal

When The Ear was first printed I was asked to write an article on how Eared cattle performed in the feedyard (ADG, health, and most importantly PROFIT). I used mostly the Texas A&M Ranch to Rail – South data that we conducted from 1992 until 2004 and fed several thousand head of Bos indicus influenced or Eared steers. Feeders in the South (and in the North I expect) know the value of these types of feeders especially if they are looking for cattle to come into the yards to gain rapidly and efficiently and remain healthy. In the recent past these cattle have in general been undervalued (in price) and it has made them attractive to feed in live animal based marketing systems that are looking for cattle to produce mostly US Select Yield Grade 3 or better carcasses and make money doing it.

Dr. Tom Troxel and Dr. Shane Gadberry, Extension Animal Scientists at the University of Arkansas, have been following and reporting on the value of feeder cattle in Arkansas (a snapshot of the of the type of Southeastern cattle in demand by northern stockers and feeders). Begun in 2000 and repeated every 5 years they looked at the prices paid in weekly livestock auctions in 12 locations in the state and the various phenotypic and genetic factors that affect them. Their phenotypic factors included gender (sex), group size, body fill, body condition and health (based on hair quality, eyes, preconditioning). As genetic factors, they included breed or breedtype (as best as could be determined), color, USDA feeder cattle muscle score and frame size, horn/polledness and weight. Price was converted to a standardized value and represented single lots only. The differences in value reported were those above or below the average for that year.

Jacobsen Ranch steers out of Braford cows and Gardiner Angus bulls and put sold in a premium program

Jacobsen Ranch steers out of Braford cows and Gardiner Angus bulls and sold in a premium program.

These results were reported at this year’s American Society of Animal Science Southern Section meeting in Orlando this past February. They found that as the number of lots with more than one head increased, the value of uniform multiple head lots, especially if more than 6 head, were worth $4.39 more per hundredweight in 2005 and $4.94 per hundredweight in 2010. About the same percentage of heifers were sold in each of the three years sampled (45-47%).  Fewer bulls were castrated in 2010 even though steers brought premiums of $5.18 (per hundredweight) in 2000, $6.00 in 2005, and $8.21 in 2010!Cattle that were gaunt or shrunk  were considerably more valuable than feeders that were full or tanked when sold. However feeder buyers preferred cattle that were in thin to average condition with significant discounts for cattle that were very thin or especially very fat. Very few cattle were considered unhealthy with 96-98% of the feeders being considered healthy each year. Documented preconditioning accounted for about 4% of the feeders sold. Healthy cattle were sold with at a premium but feeders considered unhealthy (dead hair, stale looking, sick, bad eyes, lame, etc) had discounts ranging from $8.95 (for sick) to $32.61 (for stale looking). Preconditioned cattle brought premiums of $4.68 in 2005 and $6.84 in 2010.

TAMU Ranch to Rail Steers

TAMU Ranch to Rail Steers

In their second report on the effects of genetically influenced phenotype on price, they reported that although the percent of Angus or mostly Angus-sired feeder calves have increased from 7.0% in 2000 to 18.2% in 2010, the average price premium declined 43%! Angus x Hereford feeders, which represented 5.1 to 8.1% of the cattle offered also saw a decline in premium the past 5 years of 36%. Angus x Brahman feeders, representing 9.7% of the feeders offered in 2010 increased in value with a slight premium in 2000 of $0.55 to $1.47 in 2005 to $3.03 in 2010, a 106% increase (and the highest premium increase for any breed or type)! The discounts for ¼ blood Brahman, representing 5-7% of the feeders sold had reduced discounts from 2000 to 2010 (-$3.64 in 2000 to -$2.05, a 43% reduction). Hide color was still important but less so. With 26.6% of the feeders black hided in 2000 and 45% black hided in 2010, premiums for black hides were only $1.86 in 2005 and decreased to $1.70 in 2010. Black hided cattle with a white face (9.8%, 11.1% and 11.9% in 2000, 2005, and 2010) had increased premiums from $0.68 to $2.62 to $3.01 during those years.

Other genetically influenced factors that they reported on included muscling, frame score and horn status. Percentages of cattle increased in the higher muscling categories, larger frame sizes and polledness (either genetically or dehorned). More value was attached (greater premiums or at least no discounts) to cattle with more muscling, larger frame size, and polled or dehorned feeders. Although these premiums may not have been great, the discounts for undesired types (muscle score 3, small framed, and horned cattle) were severe at -$21.78 for muscle score 3, -$16.42 for small frame, and -$4.25 per hundredweight for horned cattle in 2010. Less than 1% of the cattle offered were muscle score 3 or small frame in any of the three years while horned cattle dropped from 25.1% in 2000 to 9.2% of the cattle offered in 2010.

It won’t be enough to just breed Eared cattle. They will sure enough have to be good ones and fit the demands of the market based primarily on muscling (where the greatest discounts can occur) but the market is definitely interested in Eared cattle and will pay more of a premium for them than they have in the past.

In visiting with Dr. Tom Troxel about their work (disclaimer: Tom was our Extension Beef Cattle Specialist in Uvalde for several years before he went to Arkansas 21 years ago to head up their Animal Science Extension group – he is a good scientist as well as a good extension specialist!), Tom said that buyers were looking for cattle to go back on grass as stockers and their interest was in putting more Brahman or Bos indicus into the cattle since they have a real problem with endophyte infested fescue. The Bos indicus genetics and to a lesser degree, through hybrid vigor or heterosis, allows these crosses to be less affected by the endophyte toxicity and they tend to graze and gain and not show the more serious side effects seen in non Bos indicus cattle. Regardless of the reason for the increase in popularity (and value) of the Brahman crosses, they are definitely bringing more! If you are interested in visiting with Tom you might give him a call or email him at (501-671-2188) or ttroxel@uaex.edu .

Dr. Paschal is a livestock specialist for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and is based in Corpus Christi, Texas. He can be reached at (361) 265-9203 or j-paschal@tamu.edu

The Value of the American Breeds

Joe C. Paschal

Over the past several months I have written about the history, performance and importance of the  American breeds to the US beef industry. These breeds include any breed or cross that has Bos indicus (generally American Brahman) genetics used in its creation. The most popular breeds usually included in this designation include the Beefmaster, Braford, Brangus, Red Brangus, Santa Gertrudis and Simbrah (the American Brahman was created in this country by combining several Bos indicus breeds and with these six is considered one of the Eared breeds). Of course there are other American breeds, perhaps not as widely used but very useful in the environment they were created.

One breed that comes to mind is the Charbray (5/8 – 13/16 Charolais and 3/8-3/16 Brahman). This breed was developed after F1 crosses made in the 1930s (using Charolais cattle imported from Mexico) were found to be faster growing, more heat tolerant and tick resistant, and better grading (in terms of overall carcass composition) in tropical and subtropical environments they were bred and raised. Charbray cattle were fairly widespread in the Gulf Coast areas and even in some areas of the west but never as numerous in either number of cattle nor in number of breeders as the other Eared breeds. The Association was merged with the American International Charolais Association in the 1960s and is responsible for the registry. I have seen a lot of Charbray cattle in Central and South American (in Brazil the Charbray are called Canchim) and the breed is fairly well represented in Australia. In the US the breed tended to be larger framed and later maturing than the British breeds (even though they were fast gaining and efficient on grass and in the feedyard) and when those breeds began to moderate their frame and move towards improved carcass merit, many Charbray breeders were no longer in business. However there are still a few Charbray breeders and cattle around and their bulls are in demand by the folks who know their value.

So what is the value of an American breed?

So what is the value of an American breed? First there is the genetic value of the breeds used in the cross. Many times when my colleagues talk about crossbreeding, this is sometimes glossed over in favor of emphasizing hybrid vigor or heterosis. As my good friend and mentor Dr. Rodney Robertson, Executive Director of the United Braford Breeders Association once said to me when we were graduate students “Heterosis is just the icing on the cake, the ingredients (the breeds used) are what makes the cake taste good. If the ingredients aren’t any good the icing won’t make it taste any better”. It doesn’t just apply to the breeds but to the genetic value of individuals involved in making the breeds as well. In the original foundation animals of these different American breeds there weren’t any EPDs or adjusted weights or contemporary groups, just outstanding individuals based mostly on physical appraisal. For traits high in heritability this was good enough (it had to be) to ensure some accuracy in selection response and once the progeny were on the ground further culling based on their performance could be continued.

Braford Bulls

Braford Bulls

Most of the Eared breeds (with the singular exception of the American Brahman which is a blend of Bos indicus breeds) have Bos indicus genetics blended in some proportion with one or more British or European breeds. The Bos indicus genetics supplied the valuable genetics for adaptability in tropical and subtropical environments (heat and parasite tolerance, resistance to disease, ability to digest coarser forages due to increased retention time, thicker enamel on their teeth, and increased longevity) that the British and European breeds lacked. In turn, those British and European cattle provided valuable genetics for increased gain, muscling and carcass merit. The idea was to develop a crossbred animal that blended these traits in an ideal to provide cattle that would thrive in the less than ideal environmental conditions produce a market acceptable calf and perhaps most importantly improve profitability. Profitability is what drove Mr. Adams, Mr. Lasater and Mr. Kleberg to develop the breeds associated with their names (Braford, Beefmaster and Santa Gertrudis), not the desire to create new breeds.

Tom Lasater

Tom Lasater

Originally some of these breeds used a specific “formula” to allow new breeders to breed new cattle and register them into the herd book. Offspring from these registered cattle were automatically considered purebreds eligible for registry. Later some of the American breeds that had a specific percentage cross allowed for some variation to fit specific production environments and marketing preferences which has proved useful in the long run. Some environments require less Bos indicus influence, some require more, and many markets tend to discount excessive influence (except in replacement females).

Robert J Kleberg

Robert J Kleberg

In addition to providing a desirable blend of the parental breed types, often to fit your environment and market, there are large number of breeders and animals from which to select.  These breeds (like all purebred cattle) produce their own replacements which is as beneficial today as it was 50 or 75 years ago to their founders. You don’t have to rebuild your replacements when they are culled due to nonperformance, herds can be resupplied with cattle of the desired breed percentages without rebuilding the crosses. In addition, most of these breeds have comprehensive performance testing and EPD prediction that can include ultrasound and genomic data

Another value accrued in combining breeds is hybrid vigor or heterosis. The benefits of hybrid vigor or heterosis are well known. The crossbred offspring has a gene from each of the parental breeds on every locus on each chromosome and the products produced by these genes interact to generally improve the trait in a wide range of environments. Generally the harsher the environment is, the greater the improvement can be. In most cases, this response is significant (as in fertility, maternal ability and longevity) increasing productivity 10-25%. The American breeds, with the exception of some mild inbreeding (the opposite of crossbreeding) that might have occurred to “fix” a type (coat color, white markings, polledness) have all retained some of the original heterosis created from the initial crosses which is valuable to commercial and purebred breeders alike. This retained heterosis is expressed in the straightbred cattle but is also observed when these breeds are mated to unrelated breeds.

There is a long history of using the value of using American breed females in tropical and subtropical environments and breeding them to British or European breed bulls (sometimes related by breed, sometimes not) to produce a terminal cross market calf. The American breed cow provides adaptability, fertility, maternal ability and longevity and the non-American breed sire provides more growth and marketability.  The American breed cows are often easier to find and not as expensive as most F1 females and are a valuable asset. American breed bulls are also used on non-American breed females to produce the same crosses but since the American female is more productive than the non-American one in these environments, profitability is generally lower. American breed cows and bulls are a short cut to most of the benefits of crossbreeding (use of breeds in desirable combinations and heterosis) while retaining the attributes of other purebred associations (registration, performance testing and accurate and timely EPD calculation).

The American breeds and their crosses are valuable to southern US beef production. They provide high levels of hybrid vigor, vary in percentages of Bos indicus to fit your specific environmental and market conditions, have reliable and accurate performance data and EPD for most traits, and can provide a shortcut to producing an acceptable and profitable market calf!

Salacoa Valley Farms

by:  Belinda Hood Ary


Reprinted from Cattle Today, May 15, 2010, Volume 23,  Issue 17 Modified October 1, 2012


Few people in the purebred cattle business today can match the commitment and experience of David Vaughan, owner of Salacoa Valley Farms in Fairmount, Ga. He has weathered the highs and lows, from severe drought to extreme floods, from the times of record high cattle prices to the days of rock bottom lows.  All the while, Vaughan’s Brangus operation has thrived, keeping a single purpose in mind….to produce the top Brangus females in the country.

David Vaughan (Right) visiting with Doug Williams and Jim Latham

David Vaughan (Right) visiting with Doug Williams and Jim Latham

“We have concentrated on our females for over 25 years,” Vaughan explains. “We have focused on cows that are fertile, and will not only have a calf, but raise a high performing calf, as well. That commitment sets our herd apart from many herds ”

From the beginning, SalacoaValley has emphasized how important the influence of the female is to the herd. Many in the Brangus breed are familiar with SalacoaValley’s focus through the years on 12 cow families, known as the “Dynamic Dozen.”  One of the predominant families currently being used is the “23’ cow family that goes back to the 23U cow bred by Vineyard Cattle Company in Texas. It continues to be one of Vaughan’s primary goals to get more females from the “23” family into production in the SVF herd.

“By concentrating on just a few cow families, we are able to put emphasis on uniformity in our cow herd,” Vaughan continues. “Of course, the bull is half your herd, but if you don’t have a good set of females, it doesn’t matter what bull you use. You have to start with a good set of females.”

Overseeing the cowherd and day to day operations at Salacoa Valley is general manager Chris Heptinstall who has been in that position for almost three years. Heptistall is a graduate of Auburn University, and grew up in Alabama on his family’s commercial cow calf ranch. Chris spent time over the years working with Debter Hereford Farm and Camp Cooley Ranch before coming to Salacoa Valley.

Chris Heptinstall, General Manager of Salacoa Valley Farms

Chris Heptinstall, General Manager of Salacoa Valley Farms

Salacoa Valley Farms is located in the foothills of the PineLogMountains (the last major mountains in the Appalachian Chain) near Fairmount, Ga., and has been in the Vaughan family for over 80 years. Initially, the family operated a thriving mule business, but in the 1950’s they turned to row crops, cotton and cattle. Vaughan’s love for cattle started early.  As a teenager he judged cattle on the 4-H Livestock Judging team and showed Angus steers at the Georgia State Fair where he took home the Grand Champion Steer trophy a record three times, a Georgia state record that still stands today.

Vaughan received his degree in Animal Husbandry from the University of Georgia and was a member of their judging team.  He also received his law degree from the University of Georgia in 1959 and started his practice in Cartersville, Ga.  He served as Assistant Solicitor General Cherokee Circuit for a year.  Then he was elected to the Georgia General Assembly and represented the 14th District for two terms. He served as the District Attorney for the Cherokee Judicial Circuit for two terms and has been in private practice since leaving public service.

In 1960 Vaughan took over the operation of the farm from his father, and continued to breed Angus and commercial cattle.  Through the late ‘60’s, ‘70’s and early ‘80’s Vaughan began using “exotics” and put together a purebred herd that he terms “too big to feed and breed.”

It was during that time that Willow Springs Ranch in Texas was looking for pasture to graze cattle on due to the drought, and they asked if Vaughan would be willing to bring some of their cattle over to Georgia.  “Those cattle were thin, had been fed very little hay, were eating milo stubble and they still cycled!,” he remembers. “We were wearing the wheels off the feed wagon trying to keep our cattle fed.  It was then and there that I decided that was where I needed to be with my herd.”

In 1985, he made the decision to disperse his purebred herd, and entered into a joint venture with Willow Springs Ranch, the “herd that wrote the book” in the Brangus breed. Just one year later, in 1986, Willow Springs dispersed their entire operation, and Vaughan saw this as an opportunity to start his own Brangus herd, using Willow Springs cattle and genetics as the foundation.

“Once we started dealing with the Brangus cows, we really fell in love with them,” he remembers.  “We wanted our own Brangus herd….they work really well for our area.” Building on that base, SalacoaValley’s influence and respect has grown as they have increased both numbers and quality. Recognized by the International Brangus Breeders Association as the Breeder of the Year in 2006, Vaughan has served two terms on the IBBA Board of Directors and in 2008 completed a term as President of the association. He is also a member and past president of the Southeastern Brangus Breeders Association and a member and past secretary/treasurer of the Georgia Brangus Assoc.  Vaughan’s wife, Susan, has also been an active supporter of the breed, and is a past president of the International Brangus Auxilary.

Almost 25 years after starting the building process, the SalacoaValley herd is one of the largest and most respected purebred Brangus programs in the country.  Before the major drought in Georgia a few years ago, the SVF herd numbered over 800 head.  Today, they are calving around 500 head of momma cows all under the age of 7 years of age. Vaughan says his goal for the future is to build the herd back up to their pre-drought numbers while keeping it young.

Over the years, additions to the herd have been made through outside purchases and growth from within.  In the early years, major influences came for the addition of WSR Firecracker, GLC Mainline, Special Addition of Brinks, and SVF Pine Log.

Today, Salacoa Valley is injecting new genetics to the herd by having an extensive AI and embryo transfer program.  This year’s offering at the October 26, 2012 sale, will include the first offspring of a joint venture embryo program with Three Trees Ranch.

Salacoa Valley Farm and  Three Trees Ranch partnered on flushing and collecting a battery of 20 of the most superior genetically identified donors in the Brangus breed.  Three Trees purchase of these ELITE cows in the 2008 Camp Cooley Ranch dispersal, cornered the market on the top 10% of carcass x growth cows in the Brangus breed.  “We were very fortunate to have a chance to collect these breed changing cows like Ms. Brinks Brightside 209L11.  We feel this will continue in securing Salacoa Valley’s genetic commitment to the pasture and the plate,” Heptinstall  commented.

“We have an extensive artificial insemination program here at Salacoa Valley.  All 500 cows and 200 heifers receive a straw of semen.  Over 80% of our calves will be either AI sired or ET,” explained Heptinstall.

Bull buyers will have the opportunity to see the reward of this intensive breeding program in the Salacoa Valley Fall Bull Sale, which will be held October 26th at the farm.

Salacoa Valley will also host a tremendous female sale October 25, 2012 the evening before this year’s bull sale.  This year’s female offering will include everything from top proven donors, to cutting edge genetic open heifers. Also, they are excited on offering  full possession and ½ interest in their senior herd sire DDD-UC Gentelman 804S21.  Gentleman as they call him is the #2 trait leader in the entire Brangus breed  for REA, #11 for SC and #23 for IMF!   He is the most powerful son of  Uppercut of Brinks 14J8 and out of the high marketing value, SG Fancy 804H33 cow.

The breeding program is centered around one goal – to construct a cow herd capable of producing predictable, high quality range bulls in volume and superior genetics for the Brangus breed.

Their bulls are also conditioned to work from an early age. “Our development of these bulls is to not singly geared to establish performance measurements. We believe our ultimmate success is in how these bulls hold up and perform when turned out on cows.” Heptinstall explained.

All bulls produced on the farm start a 140 day growth test the day. Bulls are kept on green grass continuously and rotated traps, where the terrain is steep and rugged. “Feet and leg problems are weeded out early around here,” Heptinstall explains, while looking down into a 300 foot deep rock filled canyon the bulls travel up and down daily.

“We condition our bulls to go to work,” Vaughan adds. “They are raised on grass and required to walk and climb to feed and water while on test.”

That conditioning for the extreme climate changes is what makes the SVF bulls so popular with buyers and why Vaughan chose to raise Brangus cattle almost 25 years ago.  The success he has seen with the Brangus breed has made Vaughan quick to recommend Brangus bulls to potential commercial bull customers.

“First of all, producers looking to buy bulls should purchase a Brangus bull,” he says. “Our bulls are conditioned for this area.  You put them out and they go right to work. They have no problem adjusting to the extremes of this climate.  Brangus can handle the heat as well as the cold.”

This commitment to producing top notch bulls for the commercial market has kept SVF bull buyers coming back on a regular basis to make their bull purchases.  Through the years, buyers from all across the Southeast, especially Alabama, Georgia and Florida, have added the SVF genetics to their herds, and continue to come back to make their bull purchases.  Salacoa Valley has also tapped into the growing international market, making a big splash with their highly sought after genetics on the world stage.

Without question, the focus on excellence and customer satisfaction has made Salacoa Valley’s annual Bull and Female Production sale a huge success. Brangus producers and commercial producers across the country have been able to add some of the elite Salacoa Valley genetics to their herds in the past, and this year will be no different.  Salacoa Valley’s “BUY THE NUMBERS” Sale will be held October 25th and 26th at the farm in Fairmount.

Obviously, David Vaughan has made a lifetime commitment to the cattle business, and more recently to producing some of the best Brangus genetics money can buy. By setting definite goals and a purpose for his breeding and management decisions, Vaughan has positioned Salacoa Valley Farms as one of the elite programs in the country.

SVF Brand

SVF Brand

For more information on Salacoa Valley Farms or their upcoming “BUY THE NUMBERS” Bull and Female Sale, visit their website at www.salacoavalleybrangus.com

The National Beef Quality Audit: What it means for Eared cattle

Over the past 6 months or so the results of the most recent National Beef Quality Audit (funded by your Beef Check Off dollars and conducted by several land grant agricultural universities) were presented and explained (first at the NCBA meeting and later in the press). The audit was conducted last year and I would encourage you to go to the website http://bqa.org/audit.aspx and read all the results, many of which are positive but some less so. The concept of auditing the beef product of the cattle industry is not new, the idea originated in the early 1990s, and the audit has provided data that have allowed the industry to make significant positive changes in the way we produce, handle and market our product for today’s consumer.

Nolan Ryan Carcasses

Nolan Ryan Carcasses

This past Audit included face to face interviews with government or allied industry (agribusiness), retailers, food service, packers and feeders. All were asked how they defined “quality” based on their rating of seven specific quality attributes. These attributes were 1) How and Where the Cattle were Raised; 2) Lean, Fat and Bone; 3) Weight and Size; 4) Cattle Genetics; 5) Visual Characteristics; 6) Food Safety; and 7) Eating Satisfaction. They were also asked to provide quality related details and practices that are important to them. Finally they were asked a “willingness to pay” and a “best-worst” ranking for the industry for these seven quality attributes.  The table below indicates the ranking of these attributes for each group.

Ranking of Attributes by Interview Group for Quality Attributes (High to Low)
Allied/Govt Retailers Food service Packers Feeders
Food safety Food safety Food safety Food safety How and where raised
Eating satisfaction Eating satisfaction Eating satisfaction Eating satisfaction Weight and size
Cattle genetics How and where raised Lean, fat and bone Lean, fat and bone Cattle genetics
Weight and size Visual characteristics How and where raised How and where raised Lean, fat and bone
How and where raised Weight and size Visual characteristics Cattle genetics Food safety
Visual characteristics Lean, fat and bone Weight and size Weight and size Eating satisfaction
Lean, fat, and bone Cattle genetics Cattle genetics Visual  characteristics Visual characteristics


The closer you get to the end product the higher food safety and eating satisfaction are in the list of quality attributes (as they should be) and cattle genetics is in the top three only twice for the Government/Allied Industry types and the Feeder classification. In an overall weighted ranking, genetics is fifth, behind Visual Characteristics and tied with Weight and Size. Food Safety is three times as important and Eating Satisfaction is twice as important as Cattle Genetics as an overall quality attribute.

When asked to define Eating Satisfaction, the top two most frequent descriptions by the Allied Industry/Government and Retailers were tenderness and flavor. Retailers indicated that the amount of marbling desired to mean “USDA Select or higher” and about half used “predominately black hide” to describe the desired visual characteristic quality attribute. Of particular interest was that 13% of retailers interviewed (no mention of which ones or how many pounds of beef were sold) reported “not Bos indicus”. Whether or not that means no Bos indicus or not 100% wasn’t asked but should have been. The primary reason for this response when asked was “toughness associated with Bos indicus beef” which is why some purchase product from the Midwest and not Texas. Even though this was at the bottom of their list of rankings, it seems that some work needs to be done here to show these folks how much the Brahman and Bos indicus influenced breeds have improved tenderness in their product.  Brahman was one of the second breeds in the US to have a Tenderness EPD and my own research over the past 20 years with many of the Bos indicus influenced breeds and crosses has shown average shear force to be very acceptable.

When Packers were asked about Cattle Genetics, about half defined this quality attribute as “having a black hide” and about one in four as having the “genetic potential for marbling” or “quality grade”. I disagree with the findings of the Audit though when they say that “Based on these frequently mentioned attributes by packers, it could be concluded that packers prefer black-hided cattle that grade USDA Choice or better”.  Of the Packers interviewed, 88% participated in branded beef programs and half or more of those interviewed indicated that requirements should include marbling, hide color, hump height and yield grade. It is interesting that hump height should be included since work done by Dr. Don Franke at LSU a few years back concluded that there was no genetic correlation between hump height and tenderness in Brahman cattle but maybe the word hasn’t gotten to the Packers yet. In their definition of Visual Characteristics and at the bottom of their list of concerns, 29% of Feeders indicated “predominately black hide” and 12% indicated “no eared cattle”. This discrimination against Brahman or Bos indicus cattle may have been well deserved at one time but not now.

The refrain of preferring predominately black hided cattle echoes throughout this audit as if the color of the hide truly represented anything about the eating experience of the meat it covers. How many breeds of cattle are black hided now? It is easier to count those that are not: Charolais, Hereford, Red Angus (the only beef breed that matches marbling in Angus but is discriminated against in CAB), Brahman, Braford, and Santa Gertrudis. In one of the presentations a slide indicates that for Cattle Genetics one of the top three answers (across market sectors) was “primarily British”. I never saw that response from any sector in the Audit report. It may have been assumed by the authors that most black hided cattle were primarily British but it sort of leaves out a lot of non British breeds that ought to have been included that will grade Choice.

There are other parts of this Audit, including the Carcass Quality Survey and Instrument Grading Assessment (new to this Audit) and the Quality Enhancement of the Seedstock, Cow/Calf and Stocker Sectors. The increase in percent Prime and Choice over previous Audits is noted as is the similarity between instrument grading and human grading. Beef Quality Assurance practices and principles are being followed and more folks are interacting with their veterinarians in a timely manner. This is good for all in our industry.

The good news is that much of the audit shows all segments prefer the type of cattle being raised by Eared breeders and commercial Eared cattlemen. All want a good eating experience, adapted cattle raised in a healthy environment, cattle that have been treated humanely and beef that is safe to eat. And if we look at the other details expressed about cattle genetics; lean fat and bone; and visual characteristics, Eared cattle fit. They will grow fast and efficiently in the feedyard, will be healthy and profitably, will provide a product that is acceptable in carcass weight, ribeye area and fat thickness, will quality and yield grade (Select or better, 3 or better), be tender, safe and provide an excellent eating experience. Don’t let anyone tell you different!