My experience with Angus

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Ky hills

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To start I want to make clear that in spite of my critical comments about them, I do not hate Angus. Actually I used to say in regards to Angus, that they did more things right as a breed on average than any other breed.
There are several registered Angus breeders on this board with outstanding herds.
@gizmom has a fine quality breeding program.
The same for @jscunn and @wbvs58
Their pictures and videos of their cattle, depict the type and kind of cattle that I like. No doubt those cattle work for them.
Throughout my early life, Angus have always been regarded as healthy good doing, easy calving cattle. When I was young they fell out of favor because a lot were too small to be competitive with the newer at the time continental cattle.
I started out in the cow calf business with registered Charolais. I bought a few heifers from a longtime breeder, and overtime more from a few other established breeders. The movers and shakers in the breed were big into the show ring and we’re breeding cattle for that. The sales promoters were all about the big names and prefixes. AI and ET were taking off at that time too. I was told by the promoters to get name recognized cattle. I did start moving that way, which was the biggest mistake I ever made. Before long all the breeds had went towards the big 6 ft tall slab sided, narrow, phenotype, and finally it hit the fan when it wasn’t working in the field or on the rail. Angus were in a great position then, because there were enough breeders that hadn’t chased that fad. Seemed like over night demand for Charolais and others dried up. I eventually bought an Angus bull and ended my registered run.
I used Angus bulls almost exclusively over the next 20-25 years. During that time for a while I raised dairy calves and just had a handful of cows. Sold most of the calves off those cows. Then got into selling bred heifers, and still just a few cows. Had to use calving ease Angus bulls with the heifers. Had a very high turnover rate at that point with the bulls, higher than I ever had with Charolais. I bought bulls from several sources and first one thing then another would happen. These were mostly AI sired and some ET bulls. They were all well bred if you go by the current popular lines at the time.
During that time I tried to start up a small registered Angus cowherd too. I bought mainly heifers ready to breed. Fertility was an early disappointment. Not all got bred on time and the ones that calved when supposed to, didn’t all rebreed on time. Not desirable from a purebred or commercial standpoint. Nutrition shouldn’t have been an issue, as the commercial and crossbred cows I had at the time were doing their thing much better.
Though the fact that there was quite a bit of calving ease and curve bender pedigrees could account for the weaning weights, they were still pretty low considering the mature size and milking ability of the cows.
Talked with some other registered breeders who were also frustrated with the direction of the breed.
One said that feet, fertility, and disposition were all serious problems that needed to be addressed.
Another breeder had bought some high dollar females from a big name and was having trouble getting them bred.
Once went to a large registered outfit to buy a bull. Bulls were priced from $3500-$7000, most were AI sired and all pedigrees were heavily influenced by AI on both sides. Several of the bulls did not even look like an Angus.
I’ve always heard that certain traits are antagonistic. If that is true then selective breeding for certain traits is bound to have an affect somewhere down the line.
The present day breeding programs which are more accurately described as multipliers, all jump on the AI bandwagon of the latest and greatest EPD wonder bull of the month. I honestly think this reliance on someone else from a very different region to supply your breeding bulls (AI), and the use of EPD’s as a sole or major influence on selection has done an immeasurable amount of damage not just to Angus but to all breeds that have followed that model.
There are situations where AI is beneficial. Some EPDs like CED and BW can be somewhat reliable, I feel most of the others have too much room for variation from one outfit to the next to be real reliable.
I’m a firm believer that animals raised in a similar environment will perform better than bringing in a hodgepodge of genetics from vastly different areas.
Just some of my experiences and thoughts.
 

jscunn

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Thank you for the kind words, first of all we are not in the same league with Gizmom and WBVS58..

To sit here and say we didnt have some hiccups with both purchased and bred cattle would be a lie. We have bought bulls from one outfit for 20 years now.. (I am betting you could guess who).. Never had one melt.. gotten rid of one at less than 6 years old I think..
0418 - bought 2001 left 2007 (age 7) sold to breeder..
1344 - bought 2002 left 2005 (age 4 ) stifled
4558 - bought 2005 left 2015 (Age 11) sold thru action (kill bull) Still might be best bull we ever owned
9074 - bought 2009 left 2016 (age 7) died broken shoulder (freak accident overnight)
4648 - bought 2015 left 2021 (Age 7) sold to another breeder
8102 - bought 2018 (age 4)still here
1054 - bought 2021 (Age 1)still here.

Do a bunch of AI in addition but most of the time one bull is breeding the cows with ~30 calves per year the other bull is breeding ~10-15 heifers behind AI so not as many calves per year..

4648 was the most expensive at $8500.. all the rest were less than $5800.. So we havent been buying the most expensive bulls there either, we usually sit around sale average on bull purchases. Actually both of the bulls still here (8102 and 1054) were both ET calves. 8102 had 2 ET full brothers in the same sale, 8102 was the cheapest.. 1054 was exactly the same, cheapest of the 3 ET full brothers in the sale. Dont think I am saying I am smarter than the guys who bought the more expensive bulls I just had a smaller checkbook.. LOL

The bulls have been pretty bullet proof here, they are normally fed a small ration until they are 2 years of age and after that they get hay or grass, no feed at all when they are penned.

For every person like me there are people that dont have much success with the bigger outfits. I keep going back because when I do have a problem, and I have had some problems on the female side Ben and Eddie take care of me in a fair manner.. I am satisfied with what I get so I dont look elsewhere..
 

wbvs58

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Thank you for the kind words, first of all we are not in the same league with Gizmom and WBVS58..

To sit here and say we didnt have some hiccups with both purchased and bred cattle would be a lie. We have bought bulls from one outfit for 20 years now.. (I am betting you could guess who).. Never had one melt.. gotten rid of one at less than 6 years old I think..
0418 - bought 2001 left 2007 (age 7) sold to breeder..
1344 - bought 2002 left 2005 (age 4 ) stifled
4558 - bought 2005 left 2015 (Age 11) sold thru action (kill bull) Still might be best bull we ever owned
9074 - bought 2009 left 2016 (age 7) died broken shoulder (freak accident overnight)
4648 - bought 2015 left 2021 (Age 7) sold to another breeder
8102 - bought 2018 (age 4)still here
1054 - bought 2021 (Age 1)still here.

Do a bunch of AI in addition but most of the time one bull is breeding the cows with ~30 calves per year the other bull is breeding ~10-15 heifers behind AI so not as many calves per year..

4648 was the most expensive at $8500.. all the rest were less than $5800.. So we havent been buying the most expensive bulls there either, we usually sit around sale average on bull purchases. Actually both of the bulls still here (8102 and 1054) were both ET calves. 8102 had 2 ET full brothers in the same sale, 8102 was the cheapest.. 1054 was exactly the same, cheapest of the 3 ET full brothers in the sale. Dont think I am saying I am smarter than the guys who bought the more expensive bulls I just had a smaller checkbook.. LOL

The bulls have been pretty bullet proof here, they are normally fed a small ration until they are 2 years of age and after that they get hay or grass, no feed at all when they are penned.

For every person like me there are people that dont have much success with the bigger outfits. I keep going back because when I do have a problem, and I have had some problems on the female side Ben and Eddie take care of me in a fair manner.. I am satisfied with what I get so I dont look elsewhere..
JS, I too am honoured to be included with you and Gizmon as mentioned. You pretty much describe how I operate on a pretty tight budget. I don't buy my cleanup bulls, I use my own yearling bulls that I develop alongside my sale bulls. I am yet to see any that I use melt when they go to work.

Ken
 

Ebenezer

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In spite of the paid for hoopla, the home raised animals will keep the boat afloat. I am very limited on AI choices due to fescue being a big part of the forage base. Outside animals, like AI bulls, are the most useful at no more than 25% of the genetics of the typical brood cow. I have been through breeds, crosses, new and better but you are the best builder of your own herd if you are focused on economics and functional females.
 

BFE

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Same can be said for all breeds. I bought a really sharp set of Line One Herefords years back. Owned them one year. They absolutely fell apart. The calves I did get were weak. Absolutely lost my ass on them. Main lesson learned is to buy stock that has been run under the same or tougher management than they'll get at your place.

Angus (and Simmental) works for me because there's plenty of them left that are still run under real world conditions if you know where to look, and I don't get 20-30 cent dock on the color. I have to go farther to find other breeds that do.
 
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Ky hills

Ky hills

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@jscunn I believe I know what breeding program you are referring to. The 2 remaining registered Angus cows we have are a daughter and granddaughter of one of their bulls.
@BFE I agree that no breed is without problems. Our Herefords have been a fairly heavy cull too, but not to the extent of Angus, and on average they have lasted some longer both bulls and females.
On the subject of heat stress, our Herefords seem to be just as affected as the Angus and commercial black cattle.
Herefords on average here wean off a little heavier calves than Angus.
We have very little experience with Simmental, but from a very small sampling of fall calves, which is typically our lightest, these were heavier calves than most of our spring Angus or Hereford sired calves.
I think fescue tolerance as well as just a general need for region specific bred cattle is a major factor in productivity and longevity here.
Seems like 30 years ago with Charolais, endophyte fescue was just a myth that I didn’t believe. Cattle never seemed to be affected, fertility with most animals was much better than I’m seeing today. Heat stress was not as much of an issue. My mineral program back then wasn’t as always as good as it’s supposed to be today. Used to just feed a loose high mag mineral for a few months late winter early spring, the rest of the year it was 50 lb trace mineral, plain white salt or sulphur blocks depending on time of year.
The breed had plenty of issues, and the trends of the 80’s caused several more.
I know that Brahman influenced cattle thrive here. I often wonder looking back to my Charolais if continental cattle handle certain situations better than British breeds.
 

Warren Allison

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@jscunn I believe I know what breeding program you are referring to. The 2 remaining registered Angus cows we have are a daughter and granddaughter of one of their bulls.
@BFE I agree that no breed is without problems. Our Herefords have been a fairly heavy cull too, but not to the extent of Angus, and on average they have lasted some longer both bulls and females.
On the subject of heat stress, our Herefords seem to be just as affected as the Angus and commercial black cattle.
Herefords on average here wean off a little heavier calves than Angus.
We have very little experience with Simmental, but from a very small sampling of fall calves, which is typically our lightest, these were heavier calves than most of our spring Angus or Hereford sired calves.
I think fescue tolerance as well as just a general need for region specific bred cattle is a major factor in productivity and longevity here.
Seems like 30 years ago with Charolais, endophyte fescue was just a myth that I didn’t believe. Cattle never seemed to be affected, fertility with most animals was much better than I’m seeing today. Heat stress was not as much of an issue. My mineral program back then wasn’t as always as good as it’s supposed to be today. Used to just feed a loose high mag mineral for a few months late winter early spring, the rest of the year it was 50 lb trace mineral, plain white salt or sulphur blocks depending on time of year.
The breed had plenty of issues, and the trends of the 80’s caused several more.
I know that Brahman influenced cattle thrive here. I often wonder looking back to my Charolais if continental cattle handle certain situations better than British breeds.
I have known for over 50 years, about the problems with fescue and brood mares, but had never heard of fescue being a problem for cattle til I joined these forums. And I guess the reason why, is that 99% of the cattle around here have been on fescue pasture and hay for many generations, so no one around had ever had any problems with it. Or, if they had bought cattle from a non-fescue region, and had problems, they didn't know to attribute it to fescue. I have bought cattle from south GA, south ALA, and Florida before , that had been raised on bermuda pasture and hay, and never had problems. Most pastures around here are a fescue/bermuda mix. I wonder if that causes less problems than straight fecue ?
 
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Ky hills

Ky hills

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I have known for over 50 years, about the problems with fescue and brood mares, but had never heard of fescue being a problem for cattle til I joined these forums. And I guess the reason why, is that 99% of the cattle around here have been on fescue pasture and hay for many generations, so no one around had ever had any problems with it. Or, if they had bought cattle from a non-fescue region, and had problems, they didn't know to attribute it to fescue. I have bought cattle from south GA, south ALA, and Florida before , that had been raised on bermuda pasture and hay, and never had problems. Most pastures around here are a fescue/bermuda mix. I wonder if that causes less problems than straight fecue ?
Yes, it is my understanding that fescue presence diluted by other types of forages does help lessen the effects, but it would require frequent plantings as the fescue out competes and will take back over.
It’s more sensible from an economic and time standpoint to raise cattle tolerant of it.
 

Warren Allison

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Yes, it is my understanding that fescue presence diluted by other types of forages does help lessen the effects, but it would require frequent plantings as the fescue out competes and will take back over.
It’s more sensible from an economic and time standpoint to raise cattle tolerant of it.
Down here, bermuda will choke out and take over a field of any other kind of grass ( except for *&^%#[email protected] Johnson and crab!). In a pasture with bermuda and fescue, the fescue starts earlier, March or so, and by the end of May, you see mostly Bermuda til September, then you have another month or so where Fescue is predominate.
 
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Ky hills

Ky hills

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Down here, bermuda will choke out and take over a field of any other kind of grass ( except for *&^%#[email protected] Johnson and crab!). In a pasture with bermuda and fescue, the fescue starts earlier, March or so, and by the end of May, you see mostly Bermuda til September, then you have another month or so where Fescue is predominate.
Johnson grass will take over anywhere that isn’t regularly grazed. Here the fescue comes on early but goes dormant during hot weather up in the summer, then comes back in the fall.
 

Travlr

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@jscunn I believe I know what breeding program you are referring to. The 2 remaining registered Angus cows we have are a daughter and granddaughter of one of their bulls.
@BFE I agree that no breed is without problems. Our Herefords have been a fairly heavy cull too, but not to the extent of Angus, and on average they have lasted some longer both bulls and females.
On the subject of heat stress, our Herefords seem to be just as affected as the Angus and commercial black cattle.
Herefords on average here wean off a little heavier calves than Angus.
We have very little experience with Simmental, but from a very small sampling of fall calves, which is typically our lightest, these were heavier calves than most of our spring Angus or Hereford sired calves.
I think fescue tolerance as well as just a general need for region specific bred cattle is a major factor in productivity and longevity here.
Seems like 30 years ago with Charolais, endophyte fescue was just a myth that I didn’t believe. Cattle never seemed to be affected, fertility with most animals was much better than I’m seeing today. Heat stress was not as much of an issue. My mineral program back then wasn’t as always as good as it’s supposed to be today. Used to just feed a loose high mag mineral for a few months late winter early spring, the rest of the year it was 50 lb trace mineral, plain white salt or sulphur blocks depending on time of year.
The breed had plenty of issues, and the trends of the 80’s caused several more.
I know that Brahman influenced cattle thrive here. I often wonder looking back to my Charolais if continental cattle handle certain situations better than British breeds.
I'm surprised that no one has mentioned Limousin. They have been my best producers at both of my ranches... Arkansas and South Dakota.
Also Santa Gertrudis and Beefmaster, both decent producers... although the bm's tend to be very inconsistent in appearance. The Gert's produced the best crossbred replacement heifers.

I've bought Angus bulls for AI cleanup, mainly to get consistent calves. They definitely performed in that aspect.

The best conformation calves I've ever had were from a crossbred Belgian Blue bull... but colors varied a lot and buyers can't see beyond color unless they are all the same hue.
 
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Ky hills

Ky hills

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@Travlr i like all those breeds you mentioned but only have limited amount of experience with each of them. I really like the muscling and look of the original red Limousins. I’ve had one red Limousin bull and really liked him. Have also had a few limousin stocker calves.
Not a lot Beefmasters or Santa Gertrude’s around here anymore thanks to the black hide nonsense.
I haven’t had much success with Santa Gertrudis females, most of the herds around here are geared towards showing their cattle, and the females don’t seem to milk, and frequently have calving trouble which is definitely not what the breed is known for.
If I were in a different area where there was more selection of Santa Gertrudis and Beefmasters, I’d probably have mainly those two breeds, and maybe run Charolais bulls again.
 

Travlr

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@Travlr i like all those breeds you mentioned but only have limited amount of experience with each of them. I really like the muscling and look of the original red Limousins. I’ve had one red Limousin bull and really liked him. Have also had a few limousin stocker calves.
Not a lot Beefmasters or Santa Gertrude’s around here anymore thanks to the black hide nonsense.
I haven’t had much success with Santa Gertrudis females, most of the herds around here are geared towards showing their cattle, and the females don’t seem to milk, and frequently have calving trouble which is definitely not what the breed is known for.
If I were in a different area where there was more selection of Santa Gertrudis and Beefmasters, I’d probably have mainly those two breeds, and maybe run Charolais bulls again.
Yeah, you have to be careful with Gerts because some have bad udders. But Char bulls on Gert cows produce some awesome calves. Probably the best replacement heifers I've ever seen. Best to stick with Gert or easy calving bulls for the first two calves but after that the cows can be bred to anything. And I think Gerts tend to be smarter than the average... which has both an upside and a downside...lol
 

Bestoutwest

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One thing I really like about the Angus breed is the deep genetic pool. Flip through the AI book and there's a ton of different lines.

The thing I dislike the most is that the promotion of certain lines by the AI companies doesn't always yield good results. There's no way to tell how good a calf will come from a 2 y/o bull that is the first calf out of a cow, but you see them all the time in the catalogs.
 

chaded

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I’m assuming when you say angus, your referring to black angus? Maybe its just around here but the direction between the black and red angus breeders seem to be going different directions.
 

Travlr

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One thing I really like about the Angus breed is the deep genetic pool. Flip through the AI book and there's a ton of different lines.

The thing I dislike the most is that the promotion of certain lines by the AI companies doesn't always yield good results. There's no way to tell how good a calf will come from a 2 y/o bull that is the first calf out of a cow, but you see them all the time in the catalogs.
"Deep genetic pool"???

Man... if there was any well known breed in the world with a less deep genetic pool I would like to know which it is.
 
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Ky hills

Ky hills

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"Deep genetic pool"???

Man... if there was any well known breed in the world with a less deep genetic pool I would like to know which it is.
Yeah, if you want an outcross to the shallow gene pool of the mainstream you’d have to go to some older based line bred herd.
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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Totally agree with your 3 Angus breeders' shoutout. These breeders believe in working cows.
I have been breeding Simmentals for over 50 years. I have seen all the fad chasing. Simmental breed had PB "black" bulls many years before I ever bred to one. I still had black Simmies, because I started with commercial cattle - lot of black ones. Had the greys, smokeys & silver ones. My herd was "mostly" reds, and still is about half my herd.
You are so right about antagonistic traits. One that is hurting Angus and maybe others is the carcass traits (mainly MARBLING). Very antagonistic to MUSCLING. And it is showing in the breed.
Ironically, dairy cattle have always been better marbling breeds than beef. Look at dairy - no muscling. Waygu same thing.
I don't understand the desire to increase marbling. If you can get Choice meat, why do you want more? at the expense of muscling? I just don't get it.
I sure have been thru all the size changes - LOL. Yes, we bred for 7-8+ frame cattle, because I sold PB heifers and that's what people were paying for - BUT - easy keepers (lots of volume) and structure were still our #1 & #2 priorities, so we fared all right thru that stage. Was real easy to go back to SHORT when people were willing to pay for them.
I think most breeds are at a great "size" "fad" right now. Hope they stay there.
 
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Ky hills

Ky hills

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Totally agree with your 3 Angus breeders' shoutout. These breeders believe in working cows.
I have been breeding Simmentals for over 50 years. I have seen all the fad chasing. Simmental breed had PB "black" bulls many years before I ever bred to one. I still had black Simmies, because I started with commercial cattle - lot of black ones. Had the greys, smokeys & silver ones. My herd was "mostly" reds, and still is about half my herd.
You are so right about antagonistic traits. One that is hurting Angus and maybe others is the carcass traits (mainly MARBLING). Very antagonistic to MUSCLING. And it is showing in the breed.
Ironically, dairy cattle have always been better marbling breeds than beef. Look at dairy - no muscling. Waygu same thing.
I don't understand the desire to increase marbling. If you can get Choice meat, why do you want more? at the expense of muscling? I just don't get it.
I sure have been thru all the size changes - LOL. Yes, we bred for 7-8+ frame cattle, because I sold PB heifers and that's what people were paying for - BUT - easy keepers (lots of volume) and structure were still our #1 & #2 priorities, so we fared all right thru that stage. Was real easy to go back to SHORT when people were willing to pay for them.
I think most breeds are at a great "size" "fad" right now. Hope they stay there.
I think as far as breeds being where they should be size wise is close, but some have gone too far and are too short. Herefords, polled in particular are too focused on the show ring, and have a lot of what some folks call toads, and what would be called shorts around here. Some Angus are headed that way too.

I believe that the push for more marbling has more to do with marketing than anything else.
The bar has to continue to change to keep some breeders ahead of pack.
I say that because if they keep pursuing more marbling they will turn the phenotype into dairy or wagyu types and that won’t be as efficient in carcass yield or especially cost per pound of gain that they have traditionally excelled in.
 
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