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

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Lucky

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Don’t pass over good Brangus cattle because you were told they are hard to handle. I’ve got several big Brangus cows that will eat out of your hand. Last cow tried to kill me was an Angus cow. Ended up taking 2 Cowboys to rope her and 3 to drag her in the trailer. When I went to pick her back up it took 2 pretty mean dogs and a man behind a gate that had a kick panel on it to load her. She always seemed fairly gentle to me in the pasture. Guess she couldn’t handle any pressure. I think Brangus cattle do the best in Texas but that’s just my opinion.
 

darcelina4

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In your location I would go with branch's or beefmaster. You need some ear to help dissipate heat. There are docile cattle in every breed and bat shytt crazy cattle in every breed. There are nice cattle and bad cattle at the salebarn. The sale barn advantage is that your eyes are wide open and no one there is lying to you. What you see is what you get. I've had better luck buying from small individuals than from bigger producers. I tried red Angus and was disappointed with the ones I got. 2 out of 4 heifers would not breed and my bull produced horned calves on my jerseys. The heifers were from one place and the bull from another. They were registered with well known bloodlines. 2 out of 5 were good and that is not good enough. I sold all but my half jersey heifers. I like the beefmasters and brangus as they grow well, are pretty fertile, good mothers, and they sell well. I've not seen the birthing issues as much as with Hereford too. The trouble with straight Brahman is the bull calves sell poor.
 

TexasRancher

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Being fairly new the cattle production-breeding myself...1st generation, started at age 57. I actually liked the experience of having a different variety of personalities in cattle...even the few skiddish-spooked ones I have (the runners-untrusting). I prefer having cattle not too friendly with me...I enjoy petting them on the head, and them coming up to me face to face....but when I ever so softly touch their sides to move them out of the way....they move away from me....which is what i like...for my safety.
I have Black Angus and Angus-Hereford cross...with a great Angus bull..that is producing both Black and Red Angus. Bringing the herd to cohesion and seeing the skiddish ones settling in to a calm herd nature has been a wonderful experience for me and them. Brought all the yearling heifers at a sale barn....only thing that scares me about cattle is getting a hold of a free-martin. I'd go Red Angus for Texas, buying from a known ranch/farmer is probably best for similar temperament and genetics; but you get best prices at sale barns and you get a deep dive into multiple personalities and differing genetics from different farms.
I know from experience the skiddish-spooked ones are the most intelligent cattle, the survivors (they seem to understand that they are a human food source)...they watch and observe everything around them...they have an uncanny awareness...they see you coming and know what you're doing before the rest of the cattle catch on. I'd recommend sale barn for first timers...it's a deep dive experience into knowing everything about cattle....gently cattle are nice, preferred....but I guess i liked my experiences in the trenches of cattle realities. What fun is it to have a herd of sisters all having the same cattle personalities-behaviors? Embrace your cattle having their independent quarks and the ones with superior intelligence that are aware and wary.
 

Lee VanRoss

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I am still in that same place every time I hear or think about it. I still detest the complacent liberal mindset that allowed it to take place
and the embarrassment and lack of national resolve that has permeated current leadership. We can do better!
 

andybob

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When I moved to the USA (former Rhodesian), I chose thge breed that I had years of experience with as adapted to the climate (North Carolina) then located breeders through recommendations. I bought three in ones which was the cheapest option, and gave some age structure from the start. Another advantage was that the older cows had been in the original herds for so many years because they were performing well, so fertility etc was a given. Because I chose a minority breed, I began promoting locally to begin building up a future market for bulls, but sold all slaughter stock direct, slaughtered locally and I did the butchering, with a good market amongst the expatriot community to begin with (plenty of demand for boerewors, biltong etc), and was expanding when we left for the UK.
 
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TdJ

TdJ

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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.
Yes pls, contact details are much appreciated. The breeders I find online close by are in Oklahoma/Arkansas. Not too far to drive for good genetics but closer would be better.
 
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TdJ

TdJ

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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.
Man alive, this would be a stellar way to start. I'll figure out how to put my name on that list with the local barns.
 
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TdJ

TdJ

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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
There's a ton of great advice here, thanks Ken. On my list of things to do is find a local vet, go talk to them about vaccinations and buy the supplies I'm going to need. Knowing whether any form of tick bite fever is an issue, what the standard shots are for all animals brought into the area should be, what and when to hit the calves, best dip to use - all things I still need to figure out but super important. And then there's the question of what "should've" been done to animals you buy in and how to close the gap and keep them healthy.
 
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TdJ

TdJ

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When I moved to the USA (former Rhodesian), I chose thge breed that I had years of experience with as adapted to the climate (North Carolina) then located breeders through recommendations. I bought three in ones which was the cheapest option, and gave some age structure from the start. Another advantage was that the older cows had been in the original herds for so many years because they were performing well, so fertility etc was a given. Because I chose a minority breed, I began promoting locally to begin building up a future market for bulls, but sold all slaughter stock direct, slaughtered locally and I did the butchering, with a good market amongst the expatriot community to begin with (plenty of demand for boerewors, biltong etc), and was expanding when we left for the UK.

On my list is a herd of dorper so feed the local expats. But they're escape artists (maybe not as bad as other sheep) so hog fence is a must. I'm close enough to Dallas, Austin and San Antone to have access to a pretty significant market, I know there are others already in so we'll figure it out slowly. Or not. I make killer biltong, have a buddy that cranks out seriously good boerie but any production at scale is going to be a problem. Granzins in NB has a boerie recipe but they treat the process like summer bratts and way to finely ground.
Interesting that you went minority breed, I'm leery of doing that up front but bonsmara are not as far off as nguni for example. I suppose I'll find out by learning from the sale barns and watching the herds as I drive down the road. Know a guy that runs longhorn stud for example, that works here but other than selling to people who love long horns there's no benefit. Still, 20 g's for a stud bull isn't a bad pay check.

Why did you guys head to the UK? I left as quickly as I could, and it still took 8 years.
 
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TdJ

TdJ

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Don’t pass over good Brangus cattle because you were told they are hard to handle. I’ve got several big Brangus cows that will eat out of your hand. Last cow tried to kill me was an Angus cow. Ended up taking 2 Cowboys to rope her and 3 to drag her in the trailer. When I went to pick her back up it took 2 pretty mean dogs and a man behind a gate that had a kick panel on it to load her. She always seemed fairly gentle to me in the pasture. Guess she couldn’t handle any pressure. I think Brangus cattle do the best in Texas but that’s just my opinion.
😂 That's hilarious and sound advice @Lucky, much appreciated.
 

andybob

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On my list is a herd of dorper so feed the local expats. But they're escape artists (maybe not as bad as other sheep) so hog fence is a must. I'm close enough to Dallas, Austin and San Antone to have access to a pretty significant market, I know there are others already in so we'll figure it out slowly. Or not. I make killer biltong, have a buddy that cranks out seriously good boerie but any production at scale is going to be a problem. Granzins in NB has a boerie recipe but they treat the process like summer bratts and way to finely ground.
Interesting that you went minority breed, I'm leery of doing that up front but bonsmara are not as far off as nguni for example. I suppose I'll find out by learning from the sale barns and watching the herds as I drive down the road. Know a guy that runs longhorn stud for example, that works here but other than selling to people who love long horns there's no benefit. Still, 20 g's for a stud bull isn't a bad pay check.

Why did you guys head to the UK? I left as quickly as I could, and it still took 8 years.
Sheep markets are varied in the USA, I had people of Greek and Italian descent interested, and the local Mexicans were prepared to buy live off the farm, plenty of scope for research. Bonsmara are gaining popularity, and stock are hard to source due to demand at present, if you can afford an embryo program, the Thornbush Bonsmara herd in Alberta has the best genetics in North America, and was started by Dr Gordon Strick who brough embryos from his herd in Rus De Winter when he emigrated. https://sangacattle.webs.com/apps/photos/album?albumid=8986914 I chose Tuli because I had a Tuli stud in Rhodesia, and exported the first nucleus herd to SWA?Namibia in 1978, and the second export to South Africa (Delmas). My commercial herd was all based on Tswana, Nkoni, Tuli and Afrikaner, and was a closed herd until the farm invasions. The Tuli was resaerched by several universities in the USA, and had an initial high interest, some herds are used within companies for their crossbreeding, at least two large Red Angus herds developed a 25% Tuli, 75% Red Angus composites for heat tolerance, and several ranches sell compositeshttps://lukefahr-ranch.com/ the two reasons why the breed fell in number,was the main market was selling bulls to Mexico, when the border was closed, instead of promoting the breed locally, several breeders just sold up and changed breed. Four large stud herds were sold out due to the owners passing, but the potential is still there especially with the rise in interest for grass based production. We left the USA, because the company which had head hunted me, was responsible for our green card application, near the end of my second work permit, we discovered during a meeting with HR and the lawyer, that my whole application was still in my personal file so with only a couple of months left on my legal residence, I accepted a position in the UK managing the organic livestock for Jody Schecter.
 

callmefence

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There's a ton of great advice here, thanks Ken. On my list of things to do is find a local vet, go talk to them about vaccinations and buy the supplies I'm going to need. Knowing whether any form of tick bite fever is an issue, what the standard shots are for all animals brought into the area should be, what and when to hit the calves, best dip to use - all things I still need to figure out but super important. And then there's the question of what "should've" been done to animals you buy in and how to close the gap and keep them healthy.
On the vet Scott Rushing in Lampasas.

On my list is a herd of dorper so feed the local expats. But they're escape artists (maybe not as bad as other sheep) so hog fence is a must. I'm close enough to Dallas, Austin and San Antone to have access to a pretty significant market, I know there are others already in so we'll figure it out slowly. Or not. I make killer biltong, have a buddy that cranks out seriously good boerie but any production at scale is going to be a problem. Granzins in NB has a boerie recipe but they treat the process like summer bratts and way to finely ground.
Interesting that you went minority breed, I'm leery of doing that up front but bonsmara are not as far off as nguni for example. I suppose I'll find out by learning from the sale barns and watching the herds as I drive down the road. Know a guy that runs longhorn stud for example, that works here but other than selling to people who love long horns there's no benefit. Still, 20 g's for a stud bull isn't a bad pay check.

Why did you guys head to the UK? I left as quickly as I could, and it still took 8 years.
You have a very good market for lambs. I've got a customer that kills over 1200 , a week . Some times alot more, and a lot of those lambs come from the Hamilton sale.
He'll come to you as well. You might look into buying stocker lambs and growing them out. You can do 3-4 turns a year and do better than with cattle.
 

Philip-TX

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another vet recommendation....
We use Bosque County Vet Clinic (Mark Jackson in Meridian). Cousin & Uncle have used the vet in Hamilton, on 281 north end of town, a time or two with no real complaints (mostly use Mark though been using him a LONG time)
 
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TdJ

TdJ

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Sheep markets are varied in the USA, I had people of Greek and Italian descent interested, and the local Mexicans were prepared to buy live off the farm, plenty of scope for research. Bonsmara are gaining popularity, and stock are hard to source due to demand at present, if you can afford an embryo program, the Thornbush Bonsmara herd in Alberta has the best genetics in North America, and was started by Dr Gordon Strick who brought embryos from his herd in Rus De Winter when he emigrated. https://sangacattle.webs.com/apps/photos/album?albumid=8986914.
I'm leery of sheep even though at some point I'll do dorper because karoo lamb. But based on what @callmefence and you are saying there's a significant market for them, I just know that almost every time I talk with folks back home my dad has a story about another Dormer that found a way to commit suicide. Dorper are better though, I'll keep telling myself that. :p

I've heard of Thornbush Bonsmara, hoping there's something just a smidge closer - I'll some digging but I think angus or something related is where I'll end up in the short term.

I chose Tuli because I had a Tuli stud in Rhodesia, and exported the first nucleus herd to SWA/Namibia in 1978, and the second export to South Africa (Delmas). My commercial herd was all based on Tswana, Nkoni, Tuli and Afrikaner, and was a closed herd until the farm invasions. The Tuli was researched by several universities in the USA, and had an initial high interest, some herds are used within companies for their crossbreeding, at least two large Red Angus herds developed a 25% Tuli, 75% Red Angus composites for heat tolerance, and several ranches sell composites https://lukefahr-ranch.com/ the two reasons why the breed fell in number, was the main market was selling bulls to Mexico, when the border was closed, instead of promoting the breed locally, several breeders just sold up and changed breed. Four large stud herds were sold out due to the owners passing, but the potential is still there especially with the rise in interest for grass based production.
Man alive, you were living in the thick of the Rhodesian/Zim insanity, would be willing to buy a lot of beer to hear those stories. Helluva shame how they messed it all up. Not really much better today either. That's a great story in summary never mind the detail hidden in there. The heat tolerance concept is an interesting one, doesn't need a complex breeding program to get to necessarily. Hell, brangus might be a similar outcome?

We left the USA, because the company which had head hunted me, was responsible for our green card application, near the end of my second work permit, we discovered during a meeting with HR and the lawyer, that my whole application was still in my personal file so with only a couple of months left on my legal residence, I accepted a position in the UK managing the organic livestock for Jody Schecter.
That's more of an emergency than anyone needs but a great opportunity. The English countryside is far more beautiful than the cities, or so Clarkson's Farm makes it seem:D. I used to drive London to Exeter every two weeks past Stonehenge, blew my mind every time!
 
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TdJ

TdJ

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You have a very good market for lambs. I've got a customer that kills over 1200 , a week . Some times alot more, and a lot of those lambs come from the Hamilton sale.
He'll come to you as well. You might look into buying stocker lambs and growing them out. You can do 3-4 turns a year and do better than with cattle.
That's a big number, so there's definitely a market for lamb out here. My wife tells me she can barely find any and when she does it's super expensive. You're swaying me a little fence...
 
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TdJ

TdJ

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In your location I would go with branch's or beefmaster. You need some ear to help dissipate heat. There are docile cattle in every breed and bat shytt crazy cattle in every breed. There are nice cattle and bad cattle at the salebarn. The sale barn advantage is that your eyes are wide open and no one there is lying to you. What you see is what you get. I've had better luck buying from small individuals than from bigger producers. I tried red Angus and was disappointed with the ones I got. 2 out of 4 heifers would not breed and my bull produced horned calves on my jerseys. The heifers were from one place and the bull from another. They were registered with well known bloodlines. 2 out of 5 were good and that is not good enough. I sold all but my half jersey heifers. I like the beefmasters and brangus as they grow well, are pretty fertile, good mothers, and they sell well. I've not seen the birthing issues as much as with Hereford too. The trouble with straight Brahman is the bull calves sell poor.
I keep on reading about beefmaster, both on the forum and in general. Sounds like they have really good math all around and while weight isn't necessarily at brangus level they still check a ton of boxes. Good food for thought, thanks.
 

Bestoutwest

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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?
I'm not a fan of niche breeds. I know there are folks that make money on them, but from what I've learned as a person starting with nothing is that they tend to be more expensive to get into, you need a market so you have to hustle more and the genetics are harder to find. But some of them are really intriguing and marketed very well.

For sale barn cows, I sent one b/c she didn't have a calf for me last year even after being AI'd and exposed to a bull for months. Another went b/c she had a mass in her uterus. But you talk to some of the guys on here and there's money to be made at the sale barn. (There's guys that buy heavy bred LH type cattle, wean the calf and then run a black bull with them and make money hand over fist).

We're adding a cow/calf pair this fall and going back to the guy we bought her from. He's big enough to be picky and back his product, but not too big to only sell through his private auction. There's another place that offered me the ability to buy at their private ranch auction. Found out last week that they were shill bidding at a somewhat recent auction. If it was me, I'd find a guy like that in your area.

Figure out what you want your end product to be. Build your product to meet that goal. Only spend money you can afford to lose. As a hobby guy, you won't get rich quickly.
 

andybob

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I'm leery of sheep even though at some point I'll do dorper because karoo lamb. But based on what @callmefence and you are saying there's a significant market for them, I just know that almost every time I talk with folks back home my dad has a story about another Dormer that found a way to commit suicide. Dorper are better though, I'll keep telling myself that. :p

I've heard of Thornbush Bonsmara, hoping there's something just a smidge closer - I'll some digging but I think angus or something related is where I'll end up in the short term.


Man alive, you were living in the thick of the Rhodesian/Zim insanity, would be willing to buy a lot of beer to hear those stories. Helluva shame how they messed it all up. Not really much better today either. That's a great story in summary never mind the detail hidden in there. The heat tolerance concept is an interesting one, doesn't need a complex breeding program to get to necessarily. Hell, brangus might be a similar outcome?


That's more of an emergency than anyone needs but a great opportunity. The English countryside is far more beautiful than the cities, or so Clarkson's Farm makes it seem:D. I used to drive London to Exeter every two weeks past Stonehenge, blew my mind every time!https://sangacattle.webs.com/apps/videos/videos/show/18906811-sustainable-ranching
Here is a link to one of Johann Zietsman's workshops in Florida, might give some useful information on adapted traits etc - https://sangacattle.webs.com/apps/videos/videos/show/18906811-sustainable-ranching Some articles by Johann, sourced (with Johann's permission) from the "Farmers Weekly"


I bred Wiltipers and later Dorpers on my Ranch, the Dorpers were far less trouble than my in laws Merinos in South Africa. the farm invasions were, like the war before, something difficult to discuss even all these years later, but probably need to be recorded for historic reference.
 
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