A Key to Success

by: Darol Dickinson

I am completely convinced that within the next few paragraphs we will discuss one of the most vital factors in the successful production of Texas Longhorn cattle. A factor that is the difference in profit and loss, major success and complete failure.

A Key to Success

In June of 2023 our family will have been in the Texas Longhorn business for 56 years. I believe in the following paragraphs we are going to discuss one of the factors that allowed us to be successful and raise numerous great individuals in the breed. Without this secret trait almost none of our success for the Dickinson family could have taken place.

What if John Elway determined as a young man that football was a dangerous profession, the opportunity for becoming crippled or continually suffering from fatigue and injuries was just too much of a price to pay?

What if a child goes to his first Texas Longhorn show with his first calf and suffers from a case of inexperience? He gets placed last in his class and decides he will never show Longhorns again!

What if Donald Trump would have determined in 1991 when the New York Times printed that his net worth was minus $975 million that it wasn’t worth it and he gave up? At one time he was worth over $1 billion in the 80’s lost much of it, and today he is worth over $XXX billion. What caused him not to file bankruptcy at minus $975 million?

There was a fellow in the Longhorn business who went to Longhorn sales and bought numerous cattle at auctions all over the nation. Two years later he had a complete dispersal selling all of the cattle he had acquired. It is amazing to me why someone would own 400 head of cattle, have a compete dispersal, then one month later be one of the volume buyers at another dispersal sale?

I am of the opinion that many people fail in the Texas Longhorn business because they do not have the patience to raise Texas Longhorn cattle. They do not study the actions of the most successful people. For some reason they feel they can raise truly valuable cattle “in the blink of an eye.” Many people refuse to commit to any kind of a long range endeavor. In raising Texas Longhorn cattle there is a factor that many people have a problem with, it is called gestation.

A Key to Success

Once Red McCombs said the thing that bothered him the most about raising Texas Longhorn cattle was waiting a little over nine months to see the next calf. Texas Longhorn production is something that requires patience. Gestation is not going to change. A cow is normally only going to have one natural calf each year. If a person does not have the patience to develop a long range program and stick to it, in producing high quality cattle, then that person should be raising cats. A male tom cat can be purchased at the city pound in any major city for the cost of shots, who can become the father of a litter of kittens. The female cat can have two litters per year and perhaps have six to twelve kittens per litter. If a person only has enough patience to raise kittens, then raise kittens. But if people want to be successful raising Longhorn cattle, they probably can’t achieve high-value goals in one, two or three years.

At Dickinson Cattle Company we are looking forward to raising Texas Longhorns beyond our 52nd year. We have seen some tremendously exciting things happen that took a lot of time to achieve. In 1972 we collected semen on a bull called Texas Ranger JP. The cost of producing that semen was approximately $.50 per ampule. Today many of our cattle trace to Texas Ranger as many as over 100 times. We still have the miraculous ability to artificially inseminate Texas Ranger’s line bred great, great granddaughters. This is a miracle of long range genetics.

The first year we were in the Texas Longhorn business, the best heifer calf born on the ranch was named Caledonia. She was bred to Texas Ranger JP and produced Caledonia Ranger. Caledonia Ranger was bred to Don Quixote and produced Quixote Caledonia. She was bred to Bold Ruler and then her daughter was bred to Colorado Cowboy to produce a cow called Good Friday. Good Friday in 1990 was bred to Senator and she became the dam of “The Shadow.” In 1998 we believed “The Shadow” was the greatest Texas Longhorn bull in the nation. It has been 56 years since his great, great, great, great grandmother was born. As we look at people who have successfully raised valuable Texas Longhorn cattle we find without exception these people are blessed with a trait called patience. In the six generations between “The Shadow” and Caledonia, year after year, generation after generation we hoped “The Shadow” would become a reality. We were praying and hoping to produce this kind of offspring. Numerous other outstanding cattle were developed over that six generations that achieved national prominence. Good Friday’s grand sire was Colorado Cowboy who sired the huge horned bull G-Man. In this same six generations numerous bull calves were born who were only successful with a rodeo career. They were not herd sires, but perhaps only herd “consultants.” For every great herd sire developed, there will be a truckload of roping steers that evolve.

As generations continue, today we have a Horn Showcase Champion cow, Silent Iron who sports 99" tip to tip horns still in her 5th year. Her sire is Drag Iron by Jamakizm by Shadowizm by The Shadow. It takes some time.

I am convinced that patience is the quality necessary for serious Texas Longhorn producers to achieve their goals -- time, patience, love and a desire to produce the really great cattle.

To people buying their first cattle who anticipate raising a great herd sire next year, I am sorry to inform you, great herd sires are very difficult to produce. If you demand to see prompt results, buy a cat. In fact, buy a pregnant cat in the last days of gestation. If you are really impatient perhaps the purchase of a whole kitchen full of pregnant cats would speed up the process. If you have patience and will allow enough gestation time and enough love, and use great genetics, you will someday be rewarded with the joy of your cow giving birth to a great and very valuable herd sire. My advice is, “Use great genetics and just be patient.”  Otherwise, you may have a kitchen full of cats and your house smells like an undumped litter box.