Beef Type Texas Longhorn Cattle
The Ranching Business & Texas Longhorns - Part I
Texas Longhorn (TL) steers are now measuring over 100" T2T, bulls over 80" at 40 months -- the day of over 90" cows is here. Never will a TL event be staged that someone doesn't ask, "How much horn is enough?" The hard-liner horn lovers will make grandiose projections of 120" or 150." Some talk of trailers needing to be nine feet wide for future larger horned cattle. Who am I to say this won't happen.
Somewhere along the way economics will play a valid part. Memory serves us correct to recall a $170,000 cow selling just a few years ago (pre-Obama). This and other sales over $100,000 caused an explosion of embryo transfers, clones and a dead serious multiplication of the very top end cattle. The plan was all too sure that another 100 buyers would show up ready to buy the next $100,000 plus cattle. With careful watching of the market the 80" plus cattle have multiplied yet the buyers have not. At this particular time about 1% of TL buyers could and may buy a cow over $10,000. This is a very tight-knit market group and they have a comfort level buying cattle from each other. Certainly not to say "each other" doesn't have really top end cows.
At Dickinson Cattle Co Inc (DCCI) we have always targeted the $800 to $3,000 market. The other 99% of the industry can afford to purchase in that range. They will often purchase more than one animal and look forward to coming to the ranch again next year to purchase more. Not that we don't enjoy an occasional high-dollar sale, which we really do, but life and death don't hinge on the one big "killer" sale.
Where should TL producers focus their business plan? Only focus where you KNOW there is a market that you can reach. Aim for a real market that can be located.
In 1977 there was one bull with 60" T2T and no 60" cows. Many TL cows and bulls had little more horn than a registered horned Hereford. The breeders were ashamed of their un-long-horned cattle. The 60" horned bull Classic became an overnight success because he could cough up the genetic strength to pull away from the harsh criticism that had overshadowed the breed -- small horns.
After a few years people noticed that Classic progeny had some baggage that also was criticized -- he was small and frail in body. His own mother, Beauty, had a top weight of less than 600 lbs. To pull away from the small narrow type many larger TL bulls were sought out to add larger weights. This direction change slowly moved the breed toward more of a beef type.
Through the years the commercial cattle industry was not a factor to the trends, styles and horn shapes that were fetching the big TL bucks. Only a few TL producers owned a cattle scales because weight gain was not a value consideration -- none what so ever!
Well, now weight is a consideration. Nationally the US beef cattle herd is the smallest most ranchers can remember. During the past 12 months the US ranchers could not even produce enough beef to feed the nation. Over 18% of the beef consumed in the USA is now imported. In most places the scales price (value per pound) of a medium TL cow will bring as much or more in the commercial grind market as in a registered TL sale. Things have changed -- changed a lot! Longhorn producers will be forced to change.
The prized 1% market will buy an 80" cow. Of the industry's TL producers, 99% will buy an $800 to $3000 TL, but, ho-ho-ho, over 300,000,000 people in the USA will buy lean meat for their own consumption.
The best beef type TL cattle will produce steers that grade low choice with a short period on grain. This is a lean, yet marbled meat quality that is very popular and very healthy.
A TL steer of beef type genetics will sell for $2500 to $2800, cut and wrapped in quarters. The skull, hide and scrap meat for pet food can add another $400. This is a sweet deal, yet is still a lower price than buying *Holstein beef at the grocery store. TL producers can profitably do their clients a favor by the savings and healthy qualities of providing TL freezer beef.
Many will never sell a $10,000 cow, but hundreds will profit from freezer beef. Four times $2900 is well over the $10,000 cow. Success is hinged on genetics with growth factors of the thickest, most beef conformation Texas Longhorn genetics. 300,000,000 are waiting on the product. They will buy it from someone else until TL people realize the profit of this market. They will even import it from unknown sources outside the USA.
Recommendation: Sell bulls/steers as freezer beef to sustain the registered TL business, then keep those beautiful $20,000 cows for your own personal enjoyment and for continued herd improvement.
*More Holstein cattle are bred and raised in the USA than any other breed. Therefore, more Holstein meat is available on the grocery counter. The consumer has consumed more Holstein beef than any breed. Holstein breeders make no effort to breed for meat quality and aren't about to start now. So it goes.
There is a difference in genetics. Some have a growth factor and some do not. To profit in the future, growth will be of far greater value in the TL breed than ever before.
This live steer weighed 1250 lbs, after 100 days on full feed. He hung 61% at 763 lbs. Priced at $3.45 per lb hanging weight, cut and wrapped in quarters, he grossed $2632 plus income from hide, skull and scrap pet meats.