News & Tactics
We had our first experience with Army Worms in the B Dahl Bluestem pasture that I have been working to make better and better. Had it sprayed and caught it just in time. We will be adding Kleingrass and Wilman’s Love Grass to that pasture and a couple of new ones in Feb/March of 2019. Enjoyable to see this coming together to make better grazing pastures for the cows. Just planted three wheat fields that will available for the cows after deer season.
We have just moved our herd to a reserve pasture that I let grow every year and only graze from September to December. I keep trying to improve our grass production on the ranch. We have Texas Winter grass throughout the ranch and it is our strength. As a matter of fact we have better winter grass production than we do summer grass. In this reserve pasture I planted B Dahl Bluestem several years ago and it is just now starting to fill in. This next Feb/March I am going to add some Kleingrass to continue improving the natural grazing habitat. This plays into the difficult summer we had. Lack of rainfall made it difficult here to find hay and it put many a longhorn and other breed of cattle ranches in desperate situations. We are fortunate to have several pastures we don't graze in case of times like this. Have also heard of situations where ponds are drying up. Can't overcome that with buying more hay....no water-no cattle. Fortunately, the state of Texas is now getting some rain and should alleviate the drought conditions at least for a little while.....this will always be something to consider as a cattle rancher in Texas.
6/20/2018 It is an interesting time in the Longhorn world. More dispersal sales than I can remember in the 9 years I have been involved. Certainly a buyer's market and some great opportunities to improve herds economically. I am very excited about 4 very young heifers I got from Deer Creek Longhorns. All come from exceptional dams. This group will be fun to watch and I would not be surprised to see any of these females be part of my top 5 over the next few years. I bought them private treaty.
6/12/2018 I pay considerable attention to nutrition and health. Year round I provide trace mineral blocks, sulphur blocks, loose mineral and lots of range cubes and sweet feed. I also typically have out high protein lick tubs and during the fly season (when it is wet) I get the ones with IGR (preventative fly ingredients). I have had great success using Sulphur blocks and IGR in advance of fly season. If you are late with putting them out it takes a long time to get ahead of it. I start with IGR late February. I put out sulphur blocks year round. I feed the weanling heifers (between 6 months old and 16-24 month olds) 14% creep feed. Really makes a difference to their depth of body and future horn potential. It is costly but worth it.
Another point I review with myself on a continual basis: Your calves should always be an improvement from the cow they came from. Ideally this means you should be selling certain cows as you get several heifers from them. In theory, you can't keep them all even though sometimes we would like to. Many folks keep their best older cows and their progeny and present them as a family. Three or four of these productive families and you are doing things right. A great example of this is Bob Loomis and Justin Hansen's herds. I hope to create family lines with Helm Laura's Light Mocha, TTT Jammin Jenny, Awesome Nova and Hicks Miss Strawberry. In time I would like to weave these bloodlines together to create my best potential future calf.
One other thing I have learned.....what makes the difference between everyone's herds is their cow power. Most, if not all, bulls can be bought by the straw but you can not recreate what someone has in their female lineups. Your better investments are in exceptional cows more so than exceptional bulls. As I evaluate my herd and others' herds, I am drawn to my and others' top 3-5 cows. Can these top cows add to what I am doing with my herd? How can I improve my top 3-5? I am always looking to make the herd better. How do you define what your top cows are? It is not always just TTT. Production, temperament, confirmation, udder, feet, pedigree, repeatability, success with different bulls....there is a lot to it.
3/22/18 How do most people keep track of all the data, measurements, PH#'s, breeding dates, etc.? There is no replacement for Hired Hand and what they provide in their websites. Great service too! I do not know what I would do without it.
One thing that I do every time I measure the herd (3 times a year) is I use Dalgood's Horn predictions to predict what they would have to be TTT now from the last time I measured them and write in on their line. For example, if 4 months ago a cow measured 42.00" and Dalgood's says 75.00". I will see what they have to grow four months later to still achieve a 75.00" prediction. Let's say it's now 47.00" and she measures 45.00 or 50.00. Right then I know how this animal is progressing. I find this very valuable to know. So when I get the live measurement I know right then if that animal has advanced or declined since the last measurement. Quite often when they decline it's because the horn tips have started going up. I also learned that their horns grow faster in warmer temperatures than over the winter. Using Dalgood's also lets me make better decisions on the spot when working the herd. I am an analytical geek and love the numbers side of measurements. I measure growth per month for each years class of animals.
Other info I keep separately is dates of breeding, when they were with what bull, Private Herd #'s, dates they will be weaned and rough dates of when they will be placed with a bull. There is a lot to keep track of.
Cow therapy- There is nothing more relaxing to me than hanging out with the herd and watching them interact. I also really enjoy taking pictures. So many things about longhorns can appeal to different personality traits.....creativity -with ads, naming animals, taking pictures, analytical -with measurements, studying pedigree's and pairings. Physical -in working them and feeding them.
Since we just started this page there is quite a bit of info to relay to catch up. The first mistake I made with raising longhorns was the thought that the bull was more important than anything else. I have come to learn cow power is more important than bull power. I can gain access to just about any bull I want but you can't gain access to elite cows. Putting a great bull on average or below cows will not do much for anyone. You can use a lesser bull on great cows and still have some winners. Let that sink in.......So when you can get a great bull on elite cows is when incredible things start to happen. That's when you can sell bull calves too. You know you are doing things right when folks want your bull calves.
One thing I am starting to look for in pedigrees is two successive maternal 80" plus females in a row on both bulls I am using and cows I am buying. 3 or more in a row is even better. These are the animals worth paying up for. This adds to the predictability of future results. Take a look at any of the Mocha daughters or one I just bought, DC Firefly Too.
When I am using a bull I will look up his sire on Arrowhead Cattle and under Progeny I will go through every pedigree of the daughters or sons that looked like they were a success. When I find one pedigree that keeps showing up in those successes that will be the crosses to work with. It is amazing what you can learn by doing that. You will find that many folks have been doing this for a long time and have tried many, many things. This can help you prevent going down a wrong path and can save time going down the correct, proven path. It doesn't mean you try something that hasn't been tried yet.
I am a fan of linebreeding and it's important to see what the better ways to implement that are. We are trying as breeders to do better than previous generations and to do that you sometimes have to try different things. I like to keep the resulting percentage at 62.5% or less. Most successful pairings would be a half brother to a half sister. This would be a 50%. A Great Grandfather on a daughter can work well or Sire on a Granddaughter. These are 62.5%. I have seen in very limited circumstances putting a son on it's dam. This is linebreeding the dam. See GF Heavy Hitter. He was the longest horned bull in the breed at one time. This is a 75%. A father on a daughter is 75% and is considered too tight by many. I have seen a few times when linebreeding the calf is smaller in size, almost stunted. See Coach, he was very small but powerful. It can sometimes create a more explosive expression in the next generation. I am interested in trying a linebred bull, i.e.BR Mr. Right with a different bloodline line bred female like BR Poco Nova. This could be really interesting. Always something to learn when studying pedigrees. See my page, All Time Favorites and I point out a few linebred success stories.
I think of a calf as a lightning strike through a pedigree at the time of conception. Many of us try to recreate the same pairing when we have success but it seems like you can never recreate exactly what you have done before. The best of female pedigrees are the ones that are more consistent. A popular path for breeders is stacking pedigrees with 80" and 90" animals so when that lightning strike hits you have more chances of success. I believe increasing your odds with more large TTT animals in the pedigree has to help increase your odds of success.
One improvement we have made in our program is the feeding regimen. At weaning, 6 months, I split the females and males into two pastures. Each side has a creep feeder that holds 2250 pounds of 14% creep feed. This works miracles as far as getting the animals off to a good start. They can not produce great horns until they have met the nutritional needs of their body first. I also put out loose mineral at all times, sulfur blocks for files and trace mineral blocks as extra. In the winter I feed Mix 30%, a liquid 30% protein feed. They quit using that when it gets warmer temps. I like to have several baked molasses tubs out at 30% and during fly season I use the IGR tubs. I like to put out sweet feed in troughs at the same time I dump range cubes to give as many of the non dominant animals a chance to eat as possible. I can tell when range conditions are poor in my non dominant animals. The dominant ones always get fed and push them out. Those are the ones to keep an eye on for clues. I always put out plenty of range cubes when I am there so that I can keep them trained to move. In winter I also put out plenty of hay. There are many different ways to feed but this is working for me.
Flies and lice can be a problem. I try to anticipate when they are coming and use IGR tubs, sulfur blocks and a vetgun. I love the vetgun. It saves me from having to pen the herds any more than I have to. The more times you pen them up the smarter some of them can become!
I vary on when I breed my heifers. Many use 16 months to 24 months. On my better horned animals I wait to 20-24 months. It allows them to keep adding to body conditions before they are having to nourish an embryo. I also take into account body size of the female and what bull I am using.
3/21/18 Purchased a young bull calf last night from David Mills out of Concealed Weapon and Sittin Monika. Sittin Monika is out of BL Monika 645 and part of the most consistent dam side genetics in the breed. In order it goes.....Sittin Monika/ BL Monika 645/ Lady Monika BL/ Poco Lady.....as good as it gets. This will be a total outcross for me so worth the risk to see how it will turn out. Stay tuned!
3/20/2018 Currently using three bulls.....two are Helm Laura's Light Mocha sons: By Drag Iron, BR Mr. Right and by Cowboy Tuff Chex, BR Tuff Justice. I also just started using Cruzin Tango Chex, a Bob Loomis bred bull that I am partnering on with Chris Clark. Cruzin Tango is a Fifty Fifty son and goes back to Cowboy Up Chex and BL Tari's Angle and Tari Graves on the bottom. A great outcross for my herd and very popular genetics right now. He has a broken horn tip on his left side of 5-6 inches but even with that he is extremely good. Has color, horn set, size, conformation. I am very excited to be working with these three bulls and remain confident they will produce!
Just returned from the Legacy Sale in Grapevine. An amazing lineup of females in the Sale. A sale like that is always great to compare to some of the best in the industry. I was able to purchase lot H13, GLR Tuff Whirlwind. She is a Cowboy Tuff Chex x RM Touch N Whirl Pat, 101" x 90". What I really liked about her was her horn set. She is already starting to twist and she is only 13 months old. She also has good base to go with it. Very reminiscent of Awesome Nova for me. I now have 14 daughters from Dams with 90" or projected over or more TTT. This comes from 8 different cows. I have 3 different bulls from 90" TTT dams. The strategy for me will be to incorporate as many of these 90"s into a single pedigree. I feel fortunate to be able to work with such great genetics.
I was pleased to have sold BR Redneck Jenny to Kent Harrell at the Legacy Sale. I am appreciative and hope he has tremendous success with her. She is bred to Mr. Right so that could be incredible. I can't wait to see TTT Jammin' Jenny and Helm Laura's Light Mocha in the same pedigree. BR Redneck Jenny is one of four full sisters. One is owned by Chris Clark (BR Jenny from the Stix) and I still have the other two, (BR Jenny Belle and BR Make It Rain). I also have a bull calf (BR Cracker Jack) by the same pairing. All five of these siblings are very good. Not a miss in the group.
I have been on somewhat of a buying spree......at Cattle Baron's I picked up CWR Awesome Me. A beautiful, very large, would be 80" cow with 3 inches broken off. Does not affect me in the least! She intrigued me with the 50% Phenomenon genetics. I have been watching how powerful and successful Phenomenon has been at 12.5% and 25% of pedigrees. 13 of the 55 known 90" TTT cows have Phenomenon in the pedigree. That is more than a coincidence. In that same context, I was able to buy a little bull, BR PhenTar who has 25% Phenomenon and 25% Tari Graves. That seems to be a powerful combination for success. I also bought EOT Super Missy. Another large framed cow, she has 25% Phenomenon and is heavy bred to WS Elevation, who is Cowboy Up Chex x WS Sun Star. That calf could be spectacular.
I also bought DC Tuff Kitty at the inaugural Longhorn Opportunities sale. Cowboy Tuff x RM Miss Kitty, 101" x 97". Wow.
Previously I was able to buy 3-4 exceptional heifers from Deer Creek Longhorns, private treaty. DC Mohito, a daughter of Helm Laura's Light Mocha (93.625"). DC Firefly Too, a female with 3 consecutive 80" plus females on the maternal side. DC Awesome Rose, who is Tumbling Dice x Awesome Rosebud, who just sold at the Legacy for $47,500. Extremely proud and excited to have all of these great heifers in the herd.
Next up is to get ready for working the herd on 3/31/2018 and the Blue Ridge Sale on April 13th and 14th. We have received some recent rain and the grass is starting to show itself. Looking forward to the grass growing. I have put out the sulphur blocks and IGR tubs to get ahead of the flies! We are also starting to look for shed antlers. I love this time of year!!! Longhorn sales, Longhorn friends, growing grass, rain, flowers and calves.