Friday, January 22, 2010

Is There a Place in this Category for British White Cattle?

UPDATE 11/8/2011:  J.West's Gidget, pictured below, has had her first calf, a pretty heifer calf sired by J.West's S.S. Carter.  As well, our breeding program focused on low birth weight, Classic frame score 2 and 3 cattle has progressed well the past couple of years and we are commencing sales Classic Frame Miniature British White Cattle.  See Gidget and her newborn heifer in September 2011 at this link.  And visit our new web site featuring Classic Frame British White Beef Cattle at

(source:, article link is no longer active.)

"Although the cattle may be small, the competition was not. The Miniature Zebu, Miniature Herefords and Lowline Angus Cattle shows highlighted the morning activities in Reliant Center Tuesday.
Dottie Love of Fancher Love Ranch in Ennis, Texas, stood with her 4-year-old miniature Zebu cow "Rocket," as she waited to walk in the show ring. "Rocket," full-grown, stands about 35 inches tall and weighs about 300 pounds.

"Zebus are the smallest breed of cattle, but are naturally sized," Love said. Along with Love and "Rocket" was the cow's 3-month-old calf "Roosevelt," who compares in size to a young Labrador Retriever.

Love said the Zebu breeds have characteristics similar to Brahman cattle and that the term Zebu actually means "humped cow." The breed was brought to the United States in the 20th century for use in zoos and also as circus attractions, she said. Their small size played a role within the "side show" acts.

Region 6 director of the Miniature Hereford Breeders Association Greg Schulz said, "As long as there have been Herefords, there have been Mini-Herefords." 

This is Schulz's fourth year to bring his Miniature Herefords to the Show from his ranch in Bay City, Texas. He said most Miniature Herefords are likely a descendent of a bull named "Anxiety IV," and that they are all registered with the American Hereford Association, just as the larger Hereford cattle.

Miniature Hereford mature bulls must stand less than 48 inches tall, while a mature female can be no taller than 45 inches. The average weight is between 700 to 1,000 pounds.

Trevor Smith, founder of Smith & Associates in Kiowa, Colo., brought his Lowline Angus to the Houston Livestock Show for the second year. His business is a Lowline marketing group that specializes in breeding, sales, herd consulting and more.

"Lowlines are the descendants of Angus cattle," Smith said. "They are the result of a 40- year breeding project."

With an approximate shoulder height of 40 inches, mature bulls weigh between 1,100 to 1,800 pounds, and mature females weigh between 900 to 1,100 pounds, Smith said."

********Source:  HLSR Web, follow title post link above.

Monday, January 18, 2010

An Interesting Bit of History on Truly Freezing Weather in Southeast Texas

How Galveston's Frozen Point got its name
Bitter cold conjures up memories of 1895
By SHANNON TOMPKINS Copyright 2010 Houston Chronicle
Jan. 16, 2010, 9:01PM  

Excerpts Follow, Please Click Here or the Blog Title Link for the Full article.

It was blasted cold for southeast Texas this past Saturday morning — 22 degrees according to the truck's thermometer — and ice coated the surface of ditches bracketing the gravel road carved through the marsh on the north side of East Galveston Bay.

My mind wandered as I watched a handful of ducks bore low over the flat, winter-browned landscape, looking for some patch of unfrozen water into which they could pitch and settle. I imagined the swarms of waterfowl I'd have seen had I been at this spot 115 years ago.

“Reaching East Bay, they saw dead cattle lying so thick in the shallow waters along the shore that a man could walk for several hundred yards out into the Bay on the bodies of the dead cattle.

“There was a point of land extending out into the Bay where most of the cattle made their last stand before stepping off into the water to their death.

“From that day forward this point of land was known as Frozen Point.”
If they only knew ...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Adding Value to Your Calves

Click the blog title link for the full text of this CattleNetwork article.

      Southeast Texas cattle producers, both seedstock and commercial cattlemen, should consider participating and pooling of their calf crop within a value-added age and source verification program.  At first look it may seem overwhelmingly complicated and challenging and likely aggravating as well.  But in today's market, and in the market of the future, participants in these programs have the best odds of thriving as individual producers.  Particular breeds as well, such as British White, will see increased demand for their breeding stock and for their calf crop, with breed identification coupled with age and source verification through one of the many existing programs offered today.  Igenity , which offers the beef industry with the most comprehensive and powerful DNA profile available, has now incorporated age and source verification into their product offerings through a partnership with Global Animal Management.

Excerpts follow from an interview with "Ken Conway, PhD, founder and head of GeneNet, one of the nation’s leading marketing alliances that pools calves to sell on a quality grid."

BI: Don’t Fly Blind, Advises This Veteran Of The Value-Added Movement
07/22/2009 02:30PM

Know what you’re selling. “There just aren’t a lot of cattle producers left anymore who can afford to treat calf raising as a spectator sport,” says Dr. Conway, whose GeneNet Alliance now pools calves from more than 1,000 calf producers and 100 feedyards to market on a carcass grid Swift offers only to GeneNet.
As relatively small a step as joining a Beef Quality Assurance program has been shown to bring a premium. And age and source verification can be the easiest money a producer can make, if he’s willing to take the often difficult mental step of opening up his records to a stranger.
“You have got to understand what your cattle are, and what they’re really worth, he says. GeneNet typically returns carcass data from the packer to subscribers in under a week. “I know, a lot of cow/calf producers feel, ‘I’ve got a great set of calves. I’ve always topped the sale.’ But I always tell them unless you know how your calves will grow, what they’ll gain in the feedyard, how they’ll hold up to stress and disease once the next guy owns them, and what they’ll do on a grid, in the end you really don’t know what it is you’re selling. And if you don’t know that, you really don’t have any idea of where to go or what to do with those calves to bring you what they’re really worth.

“When I started GeneNet 10 years ago, that was a time when very few people were even putting tags in ears. Once we finally got some of those guys to send cattle through the program, to kill them on the grid, we saw the same thing happen again and again. They’d look at a set of cattle and see them as peas in a pod—a good set of top calves with no difference down the line from top to bottom. And then we’d send back the kill sheet data on them that showed a $300 difference in the spread in the final value of these calves.”

That’s the kind of market intelligence that will make the difference between the successful cattle producer and the not so successful in the coming years, Dr. Conway believes. “I’ve got a lot of producers who say if it wasn’t for GeneNet, they wouldn’t be in business. You just can’t afford to give away the quality you’ve invested in—not for very long, anyway.”

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Education of Texas Regional markets on the British White cattle breed is Sorely Needed

A year and more ago I was thrilled that my neighbor, Mr. Brown, decided to give one of my British White bulls a try on his commercial cattle herd. Today, I'm not so thrilled, and I feel partly responsible for his taking a beating at the sale barn -- just because his calves were mostly white. (Pictured to the right and below are a set of twins, one day old, sired by a British White bull, pictures courtesy of Kristi Wynn.)

My neighbor took nine healthy calves to the Livingston auction barn and came back with $2200 and a sour taste in his mouth -- he took his bull the following week. Mr. Brown has been in the cattle business all of his life, and his father before him, and on further back I'm sure, even on the same home place. Besides raising cattle, he also raises and harvests a lot of the hay in this area, so his cattle always have a ready supply. So there is no question but that his calves were fit and healthy and comparable to the black and brown ones that sold much higher. Not to mention they were across the road from me and I could see them thriving with my own eyes since they first hit the ground last spring.

Mr. Brown remains very impressed with the crossbred calves from his commercial stock. He contends they were up and on their feet and lively much faster than any calves he's ever had. Despite his giving up his bull, he's considering talking to a major local buyer about the possibilities of selling his calf crop direct to them in the future, as well as questioning them on why his white calves took such a hit at the sale barn -- he wants to try to understand this hit to his cattle budget a little better.

I had already told Mr. Brown I was concerned that he would be disappointed at the sale price of his calves, as I had taken two cull bull calves, and one fat steer, to the sale barn several months back and was shocked at just how low they sold. Sure cattle prices are down, but it seems that what sold for a little less in good times, now sells for a whole lot less.

Mr. Brown, being forewarned by me, made sure he told everyone at the barn that his calves were NOT Longhorn, they were British White sired calves, but it didn't matter -- they still sold as Longhorns. Funny thing with this group of calves, only two of them had much black on them at all. His British White bull threw fantastic color, very classic British White markings, hardly a spot even on them.

Some time ago I explored the idea of tagging our calves with a breed identifying tag that would stay with them throughout the auction barn to feedlot process. And in addition to breed identification, have the tags fitted with electronic ID and the calves part of a Source and Age Verification program for members who wished to participate.

To my mind, this would increase the value of our white calves, as well as provide positive breed identification to the feedlot finishers. If in fact our British White sired calves fattened and graded well, then the feedlots would tell the order buyers and other middle buyers, and demand and price for our white calves would improve.

Perhaps this is just a local East Texas/Southeast Texas problem. If so, then the members/breeders in this region of Texas, like myself, have to address the problem themselves. If some of you have suggestions about how best to approach the education/marketing of this regional area of Texas on the desirable carcass traits of the British White breed -- please share them!

Monday, January 11, 2010

News Flash! Polled White Cattle with Black Points in Wisconsin, USA in 1815

Otago Witness , Issue 1942, 7 February 1889, Page 7 (Dunedin, New Zealand)

Among the known breeds of polled cattle one scarcely ever hears of a white polled breed, and yet it is extremely probable that the first polled cattle in England were of a white colour. The late Rev. J. Storer mentions in his book, "Wild White Cattle of Great Britain," no less than four herds of wild or semi- wild white-polled cattle that were kept in parks in Great Britain, all of which were believed to be descended from the original wild cattle of the country. Some of these cattle were said to be as large as shorthorns (Shorthorns are a composite breed from the old White Cattle), the flesh was of excellent quality, and some were good milkers. Crossed breeds from these white-polled cattle existed in several places, and were highly esteemed, but I fancy they have long since disappeared.

A breed of white-polled cattle cropped up in America in a rather peculiar manner. Mention is made in "Flocks and Herds" of a line of white polled cattle, owned by a farmer in Wisconsin in 1815. They are described as having black muzzles and ears, and black spots about the foot. Of late years, they have been bred to Galloway bulls.

The writer in the journal quoted says : "The white cattle were favourites because they were very docile, large and rich milkers, and fair beeves, being of good size and reasonably hardy."