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

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Rafter S

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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 . . .

That reminds me of something I heard a vet say decades ago when talking about dairy cattle: "A Guernsey cow spends her whole life walking around looking for a place to lay down and die."
 
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TdJ

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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.
You really make a good point - this is why I keep going back to Angus or at least figuring out what folks buy and sell locally. I'm hoping to head to a sale barn on Saturday so I can learn, figure out prices vs make/model and add real feel to the theory I'm building.
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).
And here's my newbie question - what is does "LH type cattle" mean? And by black bull you're referencing Angus?
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.
I'm going to try make it over to my neighbor this week, introduce myself. They have red angus but unsure if leased land or owned.

The goal is build a herd and run a fast turn program as things get ramped up. My visit to the barn is going to need to help me figure both of those out plus all the great advice I've received so far.

@Bestoutwest, much appreciated. Will try to keep it simple.
 

Bestoutwest

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You really make a good point - this is why I keep going back to Angus or at least figuring out what folks buy and sell locally. I'm hoping to head to a sale barn on Saturday so I can learn, figure out prices vs make/model and add real feel to the theory I'm building.

And here's my newbie question - what is does "LH type cattle" mean? And by black bull you're referencing Angus?

I'm going to try make it over to my neighbor this week, introduce myself. They have red angus but unsure if leased land or owned.

The goal is build a herd and run a fast turn program as things get ramped up. My visit to the barn is going to need to help me figure both of those out plus all the great advice I've received so far.

@Bestoutwest, much appreciated. Will try to keep it simple.
By LH I mean longhorn. That's what we started with. This was 2014 when black hided cows were going for $3+/lb at the sale barn. So we went less expensive to try and get our feet wet. I didn't lose money on them b/c I sold them all as freezer beef, BUT! I could have made a lot more money starting in Angus. What I found is that the local gene pool was really shallow, and to drive and buy new genetics but the price of cattle more than the $3/lb to stay local and buy Angus. You can get semen for AI, but most of the AI guys don't stock LH, so I would have had to buy a tank and ship myself. Again, added expense. Then to sell them, the breeder market is pretty saturated, I don't have roper contacts, and the sale barn is not an option. I could go on, but this should give an idea on my thought process.

Yes, black bull is anything angus genetics.

I went black Angus b/c they sell well at my local sale barn. I can get the AI to stick them with a variety of genetics, and I can put hereford in there to get baldies, or Simmental to get Simiangus. Also, within 20 minutes of the house I've got a dozen breeders. Finally, doing freezer beef, they grow well, quickly, and sell easy.

Hope this stuff helps.
 

Caustic Burno

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This is like the little boy that kissed the calf on the ass, everyone to their own taste.
There is one rule that holds fast and true. Run crappy cattle get crappy prices. Only thing worse IMO is getting the reputation of running back forty cows. It’s the same order buyers at the barn every week, you don’t fool a man at his game.
Find someone in your area as a mentor that’s being doing this for decades.
Don’t buy in to all the Angus crap either and I have an Angus standing in my pasture.
I prefer a red cow with some ear. I have options with that cow, Angus Brangus bull black calves, Hereford red baldies, Char bull yellows and yellow baldies. All these sell well in my part of Texas.
If I have black cows I am stuck and they are more expensive.
Now take this and a buck fifty and you might be able to get a cup of coffee.
 

Warren Allison

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And here's my newbie question - what is does "LH type cattle" mean? And by black bull you're referencing Angus?


The goal is build a herd and run a fast turn program as things get ramped up.
LH type means Longhorn and/or Corriente. To start generating money quickly, with minimal investment, the best thing you could do would be to buy Corriente cows and breed them to homozygous for black, polled bulls. These cows will be $500 or less...many times closer to $300. These 700-800 lb cows will wean off a 500-550lb black polled calf in 5-6 mos. Those calves are bringing about $1.50 right now for steers. maybe $1.40 for heifers. You can make money buying a $300-$500 cow and selling her calf for $750. You can do the same with a 900-1000 lb Longhorn cow too, but the calves won't wean any bigger, and the cows will cost a little more initially. They will eat a little more, too. Mature LH cows can have a horn spread of 6 to 8 feet, too, which can add some challenges when it comes to working facilities. What you have to watch for, is LH or Corrs that are part Watusi. Watusi are crossed in with the Corrs sometimes when the goal is to get a bigger set of horns at an earlier age. People breed LH x Watusi too, mostly for ornamental or novelty type cattle. Watusi crosses are often hard to poll, because of the African Horn Gene.

Corriente and LH both, do not have trouble calving. They are disease, insect and parasite resistant. They are heat tolerant and also do well in cold weather. They are about as maintenance free as a domestic animal can be. There is no other breed of cow in the US, that will wean a calf that would bring twice what you paid for her. You can pay $1000's more for other kinds of cows, and spend a lot of money on feed and medicines, etc. You can do all of that conditioning after you wean the calves, etc. , and might sell a steer for more than $750. But, you will NOT make the net profit that you will weaning $750 calves off of $300 cows.

Where you are located, Brangus bulls might work better for you than Angus, since a little ear won't hurt you there in Texas, but either will be fine.

How many cow-calf pairs are you thinking of running, @TdJ ?
 

greybeard

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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...
"

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.
This, if you can keep the predators away from them.
Same with goats. I've seen both go thru the ring at the sale barn and bring good $$, sometimes as good or better than calves/lb and as Fence said, you can get more than one crop of lambs and kid goats/year. Both goats and sheep have a gestation of around 150 days compared to avg bovine gestation of 285 days and twins in goats and sheep are very common and triplets not unheard of at all.

Pay close attention too, to your county's ag exemption requirements. Some counties actually encourage agriculture while others (like mine) fight against ag exemption approval tooth and nail. Here, it's easier to get started in goats than in cattle (fencing perhaps being the exception).

I have a cousin whose husband runs Brangus cattle, sheep and goats on 3 sections out in Nolan county and he has very yearly few inputs compared to where I live but 3 sections is a lot of land even tho the forage available per acre out there is less.

his place:
DSC00030.JPG
 
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TdJ

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Dang, this is an awesome breakdown and I'm super thankful for the detail. I just learnt a monster amount!

LH type means Longhorn and/or Corriente. To start generating money quickly, with minimal investment, the best thing you could do would be to buy Corriente cows and breed them to homozygous for black, polled bulls. These cows will be $500 or less...many times closer to $300. These 700-800 lb cows will wean off a 500-550lb black polled calf in 5-6 mos. Those calves are bringing about $1.50 right now for steers. maybe $1.40 for heifers. You can make money buying a $300-$500 cow and selling her calf for $750. You can do the same with a 900-1000 lb Longhorn cow too, but the calves won't wean any bigger, and the cows will cost a little more initially. They will eat a little more, too. Mature LH cows can have a horn spread of 6 to 8 feet, too, which can add some challenges when it comes to working facilities. What you have to watch for, is LH or Corrs that are part Watusi. Watusi are crossed in with the Corrs sometimes when the goal is to get a bigger set of horns at an earlier age. People breed LH x Watusi too, mostly for ornamental or novelty type cattle. Watusi crosses are often hard to poll, because of the African Horn Gene.
Working facilities are one of my concerns, I have an old setup and the chute is narrow. I think angus girth would be about what it could deal with, Brahman height will be a problem. Another reason I want to start with Angus, keep them smaller. Advice you followed with talks to another of my biggest concerns...

Corriente and LH both, do not have trouble calving. They are disease, insect and parasite resistant. They are heat tolerant and also do well in cold weather. They are about as maintenance free as a domestic animal can be. There is no other breed of cow in the US, that will wean a calf that would bring twice what you paid for her. You can pay $1000's more for other kinds of cows, and spend a lot of money on feed and medicines, etc. You can do all of that conditioning after you wean the calves, etc. , and might sell a steer for more than $750. But, you will NOT make the net profit that you will weaning $750 calves off of $300 cows.

Where you are located, Brangus bulls might work better for you than Angus, since a little ear won't hurt you there in Texas, but either will be fine.
The math here is super strong, both the actual math and the extended math covering conditioning etc. You broke it down super simple and I appreciate it.
Resistance to disease/insects/parasites is a big one. Back in ZA we would take a new group of cattle straight to the chute and hit them with berenil. We've had asiatic tick bite fever kill an animal in hours. Fine in the morning, dead by midday. Worth knowing what the local risks are and the more resistant the animal the better for all parties.

How many cow-calf pairs are you thinking of running, @TdJ ?

I've got just under 130 acres of pasture, intend to bale and intensively graze. Will also disk and rebuild about half over the next few years.
I'm considering doing two things in parallel - bring a group of stockers for slaughter and/or a few AU with a bull. I'm hearing anywhere from 1-to-5 and 1-to-10 ratio and we'll figure out what that is here. Another longer term goal is to section off an area that is normally wetter, run a simple irrigation system with movable cannons and generate feed, initially just bales but who knows how that might change.
 

Warren Allison

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Working facilities are one of my concerns, I have an old setup and the chute is narrow. I think angus girth would be about what it could deal with, Brahman height will be a problem. Another reason I want to start with Angus, keep them smaller. Advice you followed with talks to another of my biggest concerns...
Corriente cows will work nicely in conventional working pens, chutes,etc. The thing about the Corriente, you don't have to work them. I would not reccomend Angus cows and a Corr bull though. If I had Angus cows, I'd use Angus bulls. No point in breeding down...always breed up. The thing is, you can take 25 purebred commercial Angus cows at $1k or more each, and 25 Corriente cows at $300-$400 each. Breed them all to a homozygous black bull. There will be no difference in the size or appearance in the calves at 6 mos old. And no difference in the money they will bring.
The math here is super strong, both the actual math and the extended math covering conditioning etc. You broke it down super simple and I appreciate it.
Resistance to disease/insects/parasites is a big one. Back in ZA we would take a new group of cattle straight to the chute and hit them with berenil. We've had asiatic tick bite fever kill an animal in hours. Fine in the morning, dead by midday. Worth knowing what the local risks are and the more resistant the animal the better for all parties.
I have a thread on the Breeds board..25 pages...about this very subject. I have a friend and partner that we have about 200 acres of cut-over pulp wood that is fenced in, with a pond and a creek running through it. It is in middle GA, and the place is run over with Kudzu. In the more open areas, it is eat up with Johnson grass, broome sage, honeysuckle and some volunteer wheat, rye, millet, sorghum from past dove fields, and some volunteer peas and peanuts from past food plots. This is land we have for quail and rabbit hunting. He put 120 Corriente cows that were bred to black bulls on the land in January. They calved in February. After they had all calved , we rounded them up and tagged the calves and cut the bull calves. Next time we saw them was in August when we rounded them up, cut the calves out and hauled them to the sale barn. That's about as maintenance free as you can get. https://www.cattletoday.com/threads/we-may-all-be-missing-the-boat-by-not-raising-corrientes.126442/
I've got just under 130 acres of pasture, intend to bale and intensively graze. Will also disk and rebuild about half over the next few years.
I'm considering doing two things in parallel - bring a group of stockers for slaughter and/or a few AU with a bull. I'm hearing anywhere from 1-to-5 and 1-to-10 ratio and we'll figure out what that is here. Another longer term goal is to section off an area that is normally wetter, run a simple irrigation system with movable cannons and generate feed, initially just bales but who knows how that might change.
Back in the early 80's, I started renting a 150 acre farm from my neighbor's widow. He had it crossed fenced into 5 or 6 different pastures, including one are that was about 20 acres of coastal Bermuda. The rest was all fescue. Billy ran about 85 angus cows on this place, including the bermuda field. He'd cut the whole place twice a year for hay, and sometimes bought hay from us to get through the winter. Once I got it, I kept my cows ( about 75-80) off the Bermuda. I kept it sprayed for weeds, and would lime and fertilize to UGA specs. I'd cut it 4 times a year, sometimes 5 if the rains hit right. I would test and fertilize every time I baled it. The day I cut I took the samples and sent them off. When I got the results back in few days, I'd put what the specs called for back on it each time. I would roll the hay twice to get the rolls I needed for my cows, and the other 2 or 3 times I square baled it for horse hay. I had customers that would come pick it up in the field behind the baler. Each time, whether I rolled it or square baled it, I would pick up 30 or so square bales for myself for my horses. The hay I sold more than covered the cost of raising and baling that hay. So yeah, I think you'd do good to section off the best grass and irrigate it for hay. If you did the Corriente cow x Angus bull thing, then you gonna wean those calves about now, and won't be feeding anything but those cows in the winter. If you even have to feed them at all.
 

callmefence

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Dang, this is an awesome breakdown and I'm super thankful for the detail. I just learnt a monster amount!


Working facilities are one of my concerns, I have an old setup and the chute is narrow. I think angus girth would be about what it could deal with, Brahman height will be a problem. Another reason I want to start with Angus, keep them smaller. Advice you followed with talks to another of my biggest concerns...


The math here is super strong, both the actual math and the extended math covering conditioning etc. You broke it down super simple and I appreciate it.
Resistance to disease/insects/parasites is a big one. Back in ZA we would take a new group of cattle straight to the chute and hit them with berenil. We've had asiatic tick bite fever kill an animal in hours. Fine in the morning, dead by midday. Worth knowing what the local risks are and the more resistant the animal the better for all parties.



I've got just under 130 acres of pasture, intend to bale and intensively graze. Will also disk and rebuild about half over the next few years.
I'm considering doing two things in parallel - bring a group of stockers for slaughter and/or a few AU with a bull. I'm hearing anywhere from 1-to-5 and 1-to-10 ratio and we'll figure out what that is here. Another longer term goal is to section off an area that is normally wetter, run a simple irrigation system with movable cannons and generate feed, initially just bales but who knows how that might change.
I would recommend you go to any of your local sales and pay attention to what Corriente cross calves bring.
In any sale around you the buyers know what they're doing. Apparently that's not the case in Florida/Georgia, but it is here.
They're having a Corriente/ longhorn sale at lampasas right now. They do every couple of months and there will be lots of cows bred to beef bulls. Corriente s have a place. But don't expect to get the same price as beef bred calves. That's just silly. Don't take my word for it. Go see for yourself.
 

Caustic Burno

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I would recommend you go to any of your local sales and pay attention to what Corriente cross calves bring.
In any sale around you the buyers know what they're doing. Apparently that's not the case in Florida/Georgia, but it is here.
They're having a Corriente/ longhorn sale at lampasas right now. They do every couple of months and there will be lots of cows bred to beef bulls. Corriente s have a place. But don't expect to get the same price as beef bred calves. That's just silly. Don't take my word for it. Go see for yourself.
With today’s market he needs to find a local mentor to go to the barn with him.
 

Walking W

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I would recommend you go to any of your local sales and pay attention to what Corriente cross calves bring.
In any sale around you the buyers know what they're doing. Apparently that's not the case in Florida/Georgia, but it is here.
They're having a Corriente/ longhorn sale at lampasas right now. They do every couple of months and there will be lots of cows bred to beef bulls. Corriente s have a place. But don't expect to get the same price as beef bred calves. That's just silly. Don't take my word for it. Go see for yourself.
Do you ever go to Jordan's in San Saba or Mason?
Ken Jordan and I used to work together out in Odessa. I've been wondering what kind of place he runs.
 

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Rafter S

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Dang, this is an awesome breakdown and I'm super thankful for the detail. I just learnt a monster amount!


Working facilities are one of my concerns, I have an old setup and the chute is narrow. I think angus girth would be about what it could deal with, Brahman height will be a problem. Another reason I want to start with Angus, keep them smaller. Advice you followed with talks to another of my biggest concerns...

How narrow? I like my chutes 28" wide. It takes an exceptionally large animal to not be able to push through, and you don't want a small cow or large calf to turn around in the chute and come back at you.

By the way, below is the drawing I did for some pens I built at a rent pasture about 10 years ago. It works pretty well. If I was going to change anything I'd have the alley at top 10' wide instead of 12'.

1632145633989.png
 

Warren Allison

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I've got just under 130 acres of pasture, intend to bale and intensively graze. Will also disk and rebuild about half over the next few years.
I'm considering doing two things in parallel - bring a group of stockers for slaughter and/or a few AU with a bull. I'm hearing anywhere from 1-to-5 and 1-to-10 ratio and we'll figure out what that is here. Another longer term goal is to section off an area that is normally wetter, run a simple irrigation system with movable cannons and generate feed, initially just bales but who knows how that might change.
If the average there is 10 acres per cow, then you could do 5 Corrientes per acre. If it is 5 acres per cow, then you could do 2 Corrientes per 5 acres. But, say it is 1 per 10 acers. Try getting just 13 or so Correinetes initially, then you'd know you won't have to buy feed...or very little... that first year. There is no other breed of cow you fool with, that you can wean a $700 calf off of a $300 cow. Or any cow you could pay more for, even 10 times more for, and wean a calf that will bring twice the mother's cost in 15 months ( 9 months gestation and 6 mos til weaning. Especially with little to no additional input costs. And, that will give you twice the initial cost of the cow every 12 months in the 2nd and consecutive years. Even the pigeons like Fence Boy can't truthfully argue against that.
 

simme

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If the average there is 10 acres per cow, then you could do 5 Corrientes per acre. Even the pigeons like Fence Boy can't truthfully argue against that.
5 cows per acre sure is a lot. Probably would not work here. I suspect it won't work in Texas either. Maybe the Texas "pigeons" will comment.
 

callmefence

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If the average there is 10 acres per cow, then you could do 5 Corrientes per acre. If it is 5 acres per cow, then you could do 2 Corrientes per 5 acres. But, say it is 1 per 10 acers. Try getting just 13 or so Correinetes initially, then you'd know you won't have to buy feed...or very little... that first year. There is no other breed of cow you fool with, that you can wean a $700 calf off of a $300 cow. Or any cow you could pay more for, even 10 times more for, and wean a calf that will bring twice the mother's cost in 15 months ( 9 months gestation and 6 mos til weaning. Especially with little to no additional input costs. And, that will give you twice the initial cost of the cow every 12 months in the 2nd and consecutive years. Even the pigeons like Fence Boy can't truthfully argue against that.
Well I could argue with that. I know what those calves will really bring, and what they'll realistically weigh. I also know what those cows will trade in for.
I've probably had more Corrientes than you think. I'm not bothered by a keyboard cowboy calling me pigeon either. Better than a turkey 😂.
 

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