Advice on building a herd in Central Texas - sale barns vs breeders

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TdJ

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We recently purchased a ranch out in Hamilton County, TX and looking for advice on 1) type of cattle that are most sought after and 2) best way to source them. I'm seeing hereford, angus, mention of brangus. Does it really matter? I'm leaning heavily toward red angus because they're easy to handle and I see a lot of them in the area.

While my goal is to make the ranch productive in a relatively short time (measured in farming years), there are a few ways to do this. I think I'd like to start with a dual strategy which is buying in a small breeding herd and also running youngsters for sale to processors.

I'm trying to avoid making this more complex than it needs to be - do I keep this as simple as visiting the local commissions? Is there a particular breeder you'd recommend I contact?

This thread was a great read btw for whether to go barn vs breeder but things change by region - local intel is key.

Appreciate any advice or guidance for the new guy.
 

Son of Butch

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We recently purchased a ranch out in Hamilton County, TX and looking for advice on 1) type of cattle that are most sought after and 2) best way to source them. I'm seeing hereford, angus, mention of brangus. Does it really matter? I'm leaning heavily toward red angus because they're easy to handle and I see a lot of them in the area.
You're on the right track using your observation of a lot of red angus in your area.
I'd suggest getting to know those owners by talking with them face to face.
You might be surprised by how helpful local cattlemen can be in steering you in the right direction.
 

callmefence

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I'm probably going to get alot of disagreement...but.
Go to Hamilton or Lampasas. Good folks.Don't go south east of you. Talk to the barn owners about what you want and have them buy your cattle.
Or the order buyers at those sales are pros, not cattle trader's.
Gentle stock off a good size place. Avoid small breeders.
 

Rafter S

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  • I'd stay away from sale barn cattle starting out. There's a reason they're at the sale barn.
  • Red Angus are some good cattle (probably better on average than the black ones because they've had to be to compete with black), but you'll probably make a few more dollars with Brangus instead. They'll bring about the same price per pound as Angus, and will usually be heavier at weaning. Any Brahman influence hurts the price in some parts of the country, but not where you are. There are some crazy Brangus cattle out there, but there are also some crazy Angus. Watch the cattle before you buy to see how they act, and after you buy some always be quiet and calm when you're around them. Whooping and hollering only works on TV.
 

Lucky

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Cattle are generally at the salebarn because they are someones cull cows. This doesn’t mean they are bad cattle at all. I know some folks that are culling cattle that are as good or better than my best cows. It’s all about management. Having a buyer that knows how to quickly spot these cattle in the ring is the key.
 
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TdJ

TdJ

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I'm probably going to get alot of disagreement...but.
Go to Hamilton or Lampasas. Good folks.Don't go south east of you. Talk to the barn owners about what you want and have them buy your cattle.
Or the order buyers at those sales are pros, not cattle trader's.
Gentle stock off a good size place. Avoid small breeders.
Much appreciated fence, I'll try to get to both over the next few weeks.

On small breeders, other than genetics what are the other potential challenges?
 

callmefence

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Much appreciated fence, I'll try to get to both over the next few weeks.

On small breeders, other than genetics what are the other potential challenges?
Most Small breeders are focused on genetics and confirmation. And tend to be overpriced. They don't cull for performance and if they did you can't cull for performance if you never test it.
 
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TdJ

TdJ

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  • I'd stay away from sale barn cattle starting out. There's a reason they're at the sale barn.
  • Red Angus are some good cattle (probably better on average than the black ones because they've had to be to compete with black), but you'll probably make a few more dollars with Brangus instead. They'll bring about the same price per pound as Angus, and will usually be heavier at weaning. Any Brahman influence hurts the price in some parts of the country, but not where you are. There are some crazy Brangus cattle out there, but there are also some crazy Angus. Watch the cattle before you buy to see how they act, and after you buy some always be quiet and calm when you're around them. Whooping and hollering only works on TV.
Sounds like sales barn can be hit or miss, cattle purchasing where I grew up (southern africa) tended to work a little differently. I look forward to learning and appreciate the advice from both you and @callmefence. Local knowledge is key and much appreciated.

I totally understand the brangus math but I think I'll stick with angus up front. They're smaller, I like their temperament but I completely appreciate you can get some crazy ones. We had jersey cows in our dairy and 19 out of 20 were amazing. The 20th would try to kill you every chance it got! I had vivid memories of a hoof barely missing my head while attaching suckers.

And then there's bonsmara. Just also a slightly larger animal but amazing attitudes in general. Tough as nails but I worry they won't be seen for what they in this area.
 
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TdJ

TdJ

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@callmefence, anyone in the area run bonsmara that you're aware of? There are a few in other states and they a big deal in south america. Most of the imported meat we get from the south is bonsmara.

But will they hold their value being bred and sold here?
 

Lucky

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Try J&J cattle in Bryan,Tx. They sell a variety of really nice replacement heifers. Might look at their website and IG page also.
 
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TdJ

TdJ

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You're on the right track using your observation of a lot of red angus in your area.
I'd suggest getting to know those owners by talking with them face to face.
You might be surprised by how helpful local cattlemen can be in steering you in the right direction.

I get the sense that a lot of the folks running cattle are leasing their land out. Reason why - for the past week I saw a dead black angus in a field, all it's mates walking a wide berth. If it had been my cattle on my land I'd have had the vet out for autopsy and moved the animal carcass to another non-grazing corner of the ranch. Appreciate probably not that way for all the herds. I'll start with cattle commissions, meet folks and where possible drive to the ranch house where I see Angus, say howdy.
 

TCRanch

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I'd recommend staying away from heifers if you're just starting out; they're the equivalent of teenage girls. You may or may not know if they're pelvic measured, bred to a calving ease bull, health history, sometimes they don't produce a lot of milk and occasionally you'll get one that is confused & won't mother-up. Nuthin' more fun that sitting in the barn in the middle of the night, watching the clock & deciding if/when to intervene, followed by the suspense of making sure she cleans it off & lets it nurse. (And yet, I continue to retain heifers every year:unsure:).

Docility is paramount in my world!

I've sold some very nice bred cows & cow/calf pairs at the sale barn, primarily because I wanted to get back to spring calving only. But the majority are strictly culls. If you elect to buy from a sale barn, bring someone that knows cattle (do you have a mentor?).
 

Philip-TX

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I'd recommend the Clifton Cattle Commission, talk to Wayne, (wed sales).

That is where we sell our calves, culls go to Gatesville (Sat sales), and goats to Hamilton (Monday sales).
 

Brute 23

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Thanks, will do.
They had a group of nice red Angus or Brangus a couple weeks ago at J&J.

We have Bonsmara cattle in this area. They are hardy, get it done cattle. A Black Angus bull across them makes a great calf to market.

I have a contact for Bonsmara cattle if you would like to go that route.
 

bird dog

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A lot of my best cattle came from herd sell outs at the local sale barns. Look for the barns that have the biggest amount of cattle to sale ans ask the owner if he will notify you when they have a herd sell out. They had a bunch of black angus 3 to 5 months bred from a sell out at West this week. Mid age and medium quality. Most of them went to the packers and the ones that didn't sold for less than $100 above packer prices.

For $850 you could get a experienced gentle cow that will calve in early spring. Let her raise the calf through the summer and sell it in the fall.. The calf will bring about what you paid for the cow,
These types of cows will give you some experience on how the sale barn process works and what to look for to fit your operation. Plus they are not so expensive that if one dies or disappears through the fence, the loss won't break you.
 

wbvs58

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When putting a herd together there is always the chance of bringing something in with them like BVD whether from the saleyards or private treaty. Maybe the incidence there is a bit lower than here. It is no big deal, you just work your way through it by testing suspects and vaccinations. To give you an example when I was buying my initial cows I bought several groups, one lot was 5 heifers which I was able to leave at the vendors to expose them to their bull for 6 weeks. I think BVD was rife in their herd and I lost two of their calves being very weak at birth and possibly one or two of the survivors were PI's. I didn't have any train wreck but had a couple of PI's over the next couple of years but as my vaccination program kicked in and suspect calves sold I quickly cleaned up and have never had any problems since and have been a closed herd for about 10 years now.

Ken
 

gcreekrch

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Have bought hundreds of these dastardly sale barn cows. One learns their lessons very quickly what actually works and who not to buy from. A good cow man doesn’t sell his good ones.
 

MurraysMutts

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The first calls I make when I have standout replacements is to friends and neighbors, if I'm overstocked.
If theres no takers, then I'll advertise elsewhere. Usually dont make it that far tho.

Gotta PAY ATTENTION at the sale barn!
Moves fast, and it CAN bite you. An experienced buyer will be worth the commission to him!

Red Brangus cows

Black bull


'Nuff said!
 
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