Saturday, February 14, 2009

The many cattle breeds

Breeds There are many breeds of cattle in the world. Here are a few breeds I am familiar with; Angus cattle are red or black and are raised for meat. Angus are solid black cattle, although white may appear on the udder. They are resistant to harsh weather, undemanding, adaptable, good natured, mature extremely early and have a high carcass yield with nicely marbled meat. Angus are renowned as a carcass breed. They are used widely in crossbreeding to improve carcass quality and milking ability. Angus females calve easily and have good calf rearing ability. They are also used as a genetic dehorner as the polled gene is passed on as a dominant characteristic. The breed arose in north-east Scotland in the counties of Aberdeen and Angus. Excavations have revealed that polled cattle existed there in prehistoric times. Deliberate breeding began at the end of the eighteenth century. The breed was first formally recognized in 1835 with the first herd book published in 1862. The first animals were exported to the USA and other countries in 1878. The American Aberdeen-Angus Breeders' Association (name shortened in 1950s to American Angus Association) was founded in Chicago, Illinois, on November 21 1883, with 60 members. The growth of the Association has paralleled the success of the Angus breed in America. In the first century of operation, more than 10 million head were recorded. The American Angus Association records more cattle each year than any other beef breed association, making it the largest beef breed registry association in the world Hereford are red with a white face and are called white face by a lot of ranchers.The Hereford breed was founded some two and one-half centuries ago as a product of necessity. Thrifty and enterprising farmers near Hereford in the County of Herefordshire, England were determined to produce beef for the expanding food market created by Britain's industrial revolution. To succeed in Herefordshire, these early-day cattlemen realized they must have cattle which could efficiently convert their native grass to beef and do it at a profit. There was no breed in existence at the time to fill that need, so the farmers of Herefordshire founded the beef breed that logically became known as Herefords. These early Hereford breeders molded their cattle with the idea in mind of a high yield of beef and efficiency of production, and so firmly fixed these characteristics that they remain today as outstanding characteristics of the breed. Beginning in 1742 with a bull calf from the cow Silver and two cows, Pidgeon and Mottle, inherited from his father's estate, Benjamin Tomkins is credited with founding the Hereford breed. This was 18 years before Robert Bakewell began developing his theories of animal breeding. From the start, Mr. Tomkins had as his goals economy in feeding, natural aptitude to grow and gain from grass and grain, rustling ability, hardiness, early maturity and prolificacy, traits that are still of primary importance today. Other pioneering breeders were to follow the Tomkins' lead and establish the world-wide renown for the Herefordshire cattle causing their exportation from England to wherever grass grows and beef production is possible. Herefords in the 1700's and early 1800's in England were much larger than today. Many mature Herefords of those days weighed 3,000 pounds or more. Cotmore, a winning show bull and noteworthy sire, weighed 3,900 pounds when shown in 1839. Gradually, the type and conformation changed to less extreme size and weight to get more smoothness, quality and efficiency. HEREFORD IMPORTATIONS Herefords came to the U.S. in 1817 when the great statesman Henry Clay of Kentucky made the first importation -- a bull and two females. These cattle and their offspring attracted considerable attention, but they were eventually absorbed by the local cattle population and disappeared from permanent identity. The first breeding herd in America is considered to be one established in 1840 by William H. Sotham and Erastus Corning of Albany, New York, and for practical purposes Herefords in the United States date from the Sotham-Corning beginning. The more densely populated eastern area of the United States, including herds in New England, was the early home of Herefords and from there they fanned out to the South and West as the population expanded and the demand for beef increased. Records of the New York State Fair reveal that 11 Herefords were exhibited there in 1844 and were highly praised. Several breeders were active in exhibiting at fairs and exhibitions in the East and Midwest where the Herefords met with great success. Perhaps the greatest early interest in the breed came from the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia where T. L. Miller was awarded a medal for the first-prize herd. HEREFORDS - THE GREAT IMPROVER With the end of the Civil War and the coming of the American Industrial Revolution, the westward expansion continued and so did America's appetite for beef. Western ranching developed from free land and local longhorned cattle originally brought to Mexico by the Spanish conquerors and allowed to drift northward into what is now America's great southwestern cattle country. These cattle were tough and had the bred-in ability to survive, a trait that enabled their being driven to railhead shipping points and then transported by rail to slaughter at eastern markets. It was on such cattle that Herefords proved the great improver. They survived the rough ranching conditions and improved beef quality in the process. Demand for Hereford bulls boomed. DEMAND CAUSES INCREASE IN HEREFORD IMPORTATIONS IN 1890's To satisfy the growing market which developed from the western area cattlemen, Hereford breeders expanded their herds through heavy importations from Herefordshire. Whereas only 200 head were imported up to 1880, more than 3,500 head of Herefords came over during the 1880-1889 period. During this time, breeders of Herefords led by such men as T. L. Miller, C. M. Culbertson and Thomas Clark, all of Illinois, won hard-fought battles for breed acceptance in the agricultural fairs and expositions which furthered the use of Herefords in American beef production. Early Hereford breeder promoters and exhibitors in the 1870's and 1880's included such names as Earl, Stuart, Fowler, Van Natta and Studebaker of Indiana, and the Swan Land and Cattle Co., forerunner of the present Wyoming Hereford Ranch. These breeders were instrumental in the movement of Herefords to Wyoming, other mountain states and the Northwest. Gudgell and Simpson of Missouri made their start in 1877. Four years later, they were to gain everlasting renown in the Hereford world through importing and concentrating on the great young sire Anxiety 4. No other bull comes close to the stature of Anxiety 4 for he is often credited as being the "Father of American Herefords" and "the bull that gave Herefords hindquarters." Today, he is the common ancestor of nearly all Hereford cattle in this country. The Hereford industry in America passed a great milestone of progress on June 22, 1881 , when a few breeders met in Chicago at the Grand Pacific Hotel to lay the foundation for the organization of the American Hereford Association, essentially for the two-fold purpose of keeping the breed's records and promoting the interests of Hereford breeders. For over a century, the AHA has performed its duties with little change in the original bylaws while providing leadership for the industry that has seen Hereford cattle taken to every area, region and territory of America and become the greatest influence in the nation's beef production activity. HEREFORDS BECOME DOMINANT It was largely through shows and expositions that Herefords gained their greatest acceptance among cattlemen of this country and, no doubt, the first great impact was scored at the 1883 Chicago Fat Stock Show, the forerunner of the famous International Livestock Exposition which, until closing after the 1975 event, was the premier show for market animals in America. At this show over a century ago, the Hereford steer Roan Boy won the grand championship for his exhibitor, C. M. Culbertson. The steer's early maturity marked the beginning of the end for the previously popular four-year-old steers -- the big, rough, old fashioned kind. In 1886, a two-year-old Hereford was grand champion and in 1903 Hereford yearlings won the carlot grand championship. Three years later a 336-day-old Hereford won the show, the first ever at less than two years old. Thus, Herefords led the way in revolutionizing beef production in America, largely through the traits of doing ability and early maturity -- getting fat at an early age and producing the ideal in "baby beef." While other traits in beef cattle continued to be important in the cattle breeder's selection program during the ensuing years, there is no doubt that early maturity and fattening ability were of primary concern because (1) the market paid the highest price for the cattle that fattened well on forage; thus (2) the preferred breeding animals were those that demonstrated the ability to fatten readily at a given age. To get this early maturity, breeders in the late 1930's and 1940's eagerly sought out the compact type of conformation -- short, low set, wide and deep-bodied cattle -- as their preferred breeding stock. By comparison, such cattle were naturally smaller. Their success in achieving such an animal with its abundance of fat and establishing that kind as the breed's "ideal" proved to eventually be a detriment. The market changes that surfaced in the 1960's caused such cattle to be penalized in price and discriminated against. DEMAND CHANGES HEREFORD TYPE Following World War II and well into the 1950's, the compact, fat, small type cattle continued to be favored in the show ring, but quietly and almost unnoticed, there was a change taking place in the meat-packing industry and in the basic American consumer's diet which reflected on the demand and price of the favored kind up to that time. The commercial market for fat or beef tallow declined, plus the fact that consumers were unwilling to buy the excess fat on cuts from "over done" carcasses. The result was that beef packers paid less for the overfat cattle and suddenly there was a different type of animal preferred by the industry -- a trimmer, leaner, less fat and more red meat kind. The once preferred wide-backed, overfat and wastey cattle were heavily docked in the market. This change in market preference was first expressed in Hereford circles at the National Hereford Conference in Denver in 1963, voiced more loudly in 1967 at a conference in Kansas City, and in the now famous 1969 conference in Wisconsin this change was very conclusively demonstrated. Economics in cost of production required faster daily gain at less cost conversion of feed to muscle instead of fat, and far less loss in offal waste in the desired market kind. These requirements translated to more size and a different style of conformation which, in turn, presented the breeder with a tremendous challenge in modernizing the breed and turning it around to a new kind of Hereford endowed with all the basic economical traits to encompass total performance -- no desired trait achieved at the expense of another. Accomplishing, their objective in a remarkably short time is a great tribute to the dedication of Hereford breeders, the broad genetic base of the breed, and the ability of breeders to utilize modern technology along with the practical application of the breeder's art. The 1960's saw the beginning of acceptance of the performance era in Herefordom. Breeders began giving concentrated attention toward applying new-found tools such as performance testing, artificial insemination, objective measures, embryo transfers, generation turnover, and sire evaluation to effect more and more rapid genetic change in the past 25 years than perhaps had been accomplished previously since Benjamin Tomkins undertook his systematic efforts to make better beef cattle from his native Herefords. In 1963, the American Hereford Association embarked on an experimental program to test sires under practical feedlot conditions through their progeny in feedlot performance and carcass yield. That program was replaced by the current National Reference Sire program to identify superior sires. This program led the way for all breeds in sire testing. The beginning of the American Hereford Association's record keeping activity was expanded to include performance records and initiation of the present Total Performance Records (TPR) service in 1964. Having been developed over some two decades, often amended to utilize new technology and to provide maximum service to breeders, the TPR program that has evolved has proven to be a great service to individual breeders and the breed in general. Presently, there are some two million records of performance on file in the AHA computer, stored for use to assist in selecting for improvements in future cattle generations. The late 1960's found breeders faced with overpowering evidence that the breed had too many cattle that simply did not measure up in the modern measures of performance and with great competition from European "exotic" breeds, Hereford followers sought out breeders and bloodlines noted for cattle of substantial size and performance. It was fortunate for the breed that there was an ample and broad genetic base from which to select when the demand came for larger framed cattle. Breeders found the growth traits fairly easy to select for. Both 205-day and yearling weights were accurate measures of growth, fairly easy to obtain, and they were highly heritable. Within herd selection was a long process when considering the rule of thumb of cow generation being some seven years. Many breeders began looking for short cuts. They searched the country for sires with more frame and size, requesting and analyzing weaning and yearling weights. Leaders in beef cattle education and research stressed growth as a major criteria of performance, often ignoring or de-emphasizing the most important economical trait of beef cattle production, fertility. Breeders often selected for frame score and mature weight, and paid little heed to fertility, structural soundness, feet and legs. The "yellow and mellow" coloring, a tic of white in the back or extra white on the legs and underline became less of a selection criteria. "If big enough, markings and color became less important." Where and in what bloodlines could these cattle be found to increase the frame and weight of Herefords? Voices of the speakers at the Madison, Wisconsin, conference in June, 1969, had barely quieted when breeders started looking. The frame 5 steers at the conference came from the Northwest. That's where many breeders headed and they found some bigger-than average framed bulls there. Many were of Evan Mischief, Mark Donald and Real Prince Domino bloodlines. Some breeders selected bigger framed cattle in Canada, many of which traced to an American-bred Prince Domino son, Real Prince Domino 109. Also about this time, breeders found the Line One cattle developed by the U.S. Range and Research Station at Miles City, Montana. It was at the Miles City station in 1934 that a selection program commenced and the development of inbreeding several different lines with selection emphasis on yearling weights. Of all the different lines developed at Miles City, the most prominent to date has been the Line Ones. The foundation cows for the Line Ones traced back to stock purchased in 1926 from George M. Miles. The bulls used in the development of the line were half-brothers, Advance Domino 20 and Advance Domino 54, purchased in Colorado. These two foundation sires were strong in Prince Domino blood. Although the Line One cattle were developed at the Miles City station and they have remained a prime source of seedstock, a number of other breeders drew heavily on Line One sires starting in the 1940's, and these breeders became suppliers of the Line One seedstock in the early 1970's. The complete and universal acceptance of utilizing performance records was a slow process and, even today, does not have universal appeal. Different breeders place emphasis on different aspects. Because of such difference in opinions in the past, the present, and likely in the future, Hereford cattle will command the premier spot in the beef cattle industry for years to come. Long Horns are bred for meat and can survive on about any thing edible,that is why they were introduced into Texas and then moved North up the Chisolm trail by cowboys.Longhorns were brought by the Spanish via Mexico into Texas in the sixteenth century. After the Civil War (1861-65) there was a big increase in their population. Cattle intended for slaughter were driven slowly along the wide 'cattle trails', often taking two years to reach market in the more densely populated north east. In the extremely hard winter of 1885/86, up to 85% of the animals died in many areas. After the subsequent extremely dry summer and an unusually severe blizzard in January 1887, holdings completely collapsed and the importance of this breed was practically destroyed. In 1964, the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America was formed. At that time there were less than 1,500 head of genuine Texas Longhorn cattle in existence. The Texas Longhorn is the living symbol of the Old West. Simentals are bred for meat production. The Simmental as historically been used for dairy, beef and as draught animals. They particularly renowned for the rapid growth of their young, if given sufficient feed. The breeding of the American and British Simmentals have focused on beef production, while in Australia Simmental are a popular cross to improve milking.The traditional colouration of the Simmental has been described variously as "red and white spotted" or "gold and white", although there is no specific standard colouration, and the dominant shade varies from a pale yellow-gold all the way to very dark red (the latter being particularly popular in the U.S.. The face is normally white, and this characteristic is usually passed to cross-bred calves. The white face is genetically distinct from the white head of the Hereford. Limousines are bred for meat. The history of Limousin cattle may very well be as old as the European continent itself. Cattle found in cave drawings estimated to be 20,000 years old in the Lascaux Cave near Montignac, France, have a striking resemblance to today's Limousin. These golden-red cattle are native to the south central part of France in the regions of Limousin and Marche. The terrain of the homeland has been described as rugged and rolling with rocky soil and a harsh climate. Consequently, the growing of field crops was very difficult at best and emphasis was placed on animal agriculture. Limousin cattle, as a result of their environment, evolved into a breed of unusual sturdiness, health and adaptability. This lack of natural resources also enabled the region to remain relatively isolated and the farmers free to develop their cattle with little outside genetic interference. During these early times of animal power, Limousin gained a well-earned reputation as work animals in addition to their beef qualities. Rene Lafarge reported in 1698, "Limousin oxen were universally renown and esteemed both as beasts of burden and beef cattle." At the end of their work life, these animals were then fattened for slaughter. Traditionally, French cattle were kept in a confinement or semi-confinement situation. However, Limousin cattle spent the majority of their time outdoors in the harsh climate of the region. This was a source of great pride to the breeders. The cows calved year round, outdoors, to bring in a regular source of income and the heifers were bred to calve at three years of age. In the winter, the entire herd was outside and whatever the season, the cattle were handled on a daily basis. Brahman cattle are bred for meat and can withstand temperatures better than the other breeds.They are used in rodeos as bucking bulls.They are crossbred with Angus to give a more durable weather tolerant beef cattle. Size. Brahmans are intermediate in size among beef breeds found in the United States. Bulls will generally weigh from 1600 to 2200 pounds and cows from 1000 to 1400 pounds in average condition. The calves are small at birth, weighing 60 to 65 pounds, but grow very rapidly and wean at weights comparable to other breeds. Disposition. The disposition of Brahman cattle is often questioned. Brahmans are intelligent, inquisitive and shy. They are unusually thrifty, hardy and adaptable to a wide range of feed and climate. However, these characteristics also suggest careful, kind handling methods. Brahmans like affection and can become very docile. They quickly respond to handling they receive, good or bad. Well bred, wisely selected and properly treated Brahmans are as easily handled as other breeds. Colors. Brahmans very in color from very light grey or red to almost black. A majority of the breed are light to medium grey. Mature bulls are normally darker than cows and usually have dark areas on the neck, shoulders and lower thighs. Heat Tolerance. Studies at the University of Missouri found that Brahman and European cattle thrive equally well at temperatures down to 8° F. They found that European cattle begin to suffer adversely as the air temperature goes above 70° F, showing an increase in body temperature and a decline in appetite and milk production as 75° F, is passed. Brahmans, on the other hand, show little effect from temperatures up to and beyond 105° F. Although heat tolerance is only one factor in environmental adaptation of cattle, it is considered the most important. These are some of the other factors that allow Brahmans to adapt to adverse conditions. Hair Coat. The short, thick, glossy hair coat of the Brahman reflects much of the sun's rays, adding to its ability to graze in the glaring midday sun without suffering. Skin Pigmentation. The black pigmented skin of Brahmans keeps out the intense rays of the sun, which in excessive amounts will damage deeper tissue layers. Loose Skin. An abundance of loose skin on the Brahman is thought to contribute to its ability to withstand warm weather by increasing the body surface area exposed to cooling. Sweating Ability. Brahmans have sweat glands and the ability to sweat freely through the pores of the skin, which contributes materially to their heat tolerance. Internal Body Heat. One factor contributing to the great heat tolerance of Brahmans, discovered in the Missouri studies, is that they produce less internal body heat in warm weather than do cattle of European breeds. Waste heat is produced from feed at the expense of growth and milk production. Brahman cattle have been found to fill a unique place in American cattle production. The Brahman and cattle carrying percentages of Brahman breeding have been found extremely useful in the southern coastal area of the United States, where they have demonstrated their ability to withstand hot and humid weather and to resist insects. In more recent years Brahman cattle have spread considerably from their initial locations and are now found widely through the United States. They are also good mothers and produce a very satisfactory milk flow under conditions that are adverse for best performance of the European breeds. Cancer eye is almost unknown in the breed. They have established a considerable reputation for a high dressing percentage, and their carcasses have a very good "cutout" value with minimum of outside fat. Probably the greatest tribute to the Brahman breed and its breeders is the rapid growth of the breed outside of the United States. They have constituted a large proportion of our exports of breeding cattle outside continental North America. Corrientes are bred for roping and bulldogging and are much smaller than the other cattle. Jerseys are a small cow that is tan in color and is used for milk production and has a lot of cream content to make butter.The Jersey breed originated on the Island of Jersey, a small British island in the English Channel off the coast of France. The Jersey is one of the oldest dairy breeds, having been reported by authorities as being purebred for nearly six centuries. The breed was known in England as early as 1771 and was regarded very favorably because of its milk and butterfat production. At that early date, the cattle of Jersey island were commonly referred to as Alderney cattle although the cattle of this island were later referred to only as Jerseys. Jersey cattle were brought to the United States in the 1850's. Adaptable to a wide range of climatic and geographical conditions, outstanding Jersey herds are found from Denmark to Australia and New Zealand, from Canada to South America, and from South Africa to Japan. They are excellent grazers and perform well in intensive grazing programs. They are more tolerant of heat than the larger breeds. With an average weight of 900 pounds, the Jersey produces more pounds of milk per pound of body weight than any other breed. Most Jerseys produce far in excess of 13 times their bodyweight in milk each lactation. The modern Jersey breed is unexcelled in dairy type. Breeders in the United States commonly referred to two distinct types of Jerseys in the past, these being the Island and the American; this distinction is not commonly made at present. It should be recalled that this is a different usage of the word "type" than is usually implied and refers to the general size and quality of the animal rather than to its use for dairy purposes. The Island-type Jerseys excelled in refinement and those qualities that were deemed necessary to win in the show ring. Refinement and beauty of such cattle in mature form led to the marked superiority of cattle imported from the island of Jersey or their direct descendants in winning most of the major awards of the American show ring. The so-called American-type Jerseys were noted much more for production than for beauty. Cattle referred to by this description are usually larger, a bit coarser, and have been bred for years for those qualities that suit them for milk and butterfat production. Some have referred to them as the "Farmer's" Jersey. Usually after two or three generations in the United States in the hands of the ordinary feeder, the refinement of the Island cattle gives way to the larger and less refined American kind. Guernsey are brown and are used for milk and butter,but not as much milk fat as Jerseys.This breed of dairy cattle developed on the islands of Alderney, Guernsey, and Sark near the north coast of France. First imported to the United States in about 1830, they are fawn-colored with white markings and are of medium size. Their milk is golden in color and rich in vitamin A. The average milk yield is a little higher than that of the Jersey, but the butterfat content is slightly lower. Holsteins are bred for milk production and give the most milk of the milk cow breeds. Holstein cattle , breed of dairy cattle originated in N Holland and Friesland. Commonly called Holsteins in the United States, these large cattle with sharply defined black and white spotted markings are believed to have been bred for their dairy qualities for around 2,000 years. The region from which they come was famous even in Julius Caesar's time for its cattle. In milk production the cows average a higher yield than that of any other breed, although the milk has a relatively low butterfat content; as a dairy breed, they rank high for beef and veal production. Large numbers of Holsteins were imported in the late 19th cent. to the United States, where they are now the dominant dairy cattle. They are also widely raised in Canada, Australia, South America, and South Africa. When I was a teenager I had to start milking 8 cows by hand at 6 a.m. and then feed them and get ready for school.Come home and at 5 p.m.go out and milk those cows again and feed them,also feed the calves milk that we didn't sell to the market.Some of you might have those milk cans with the funny lid on them.Those were used to transport milk to the refinery.We would strain the milk into these cans,then put themin a cart and take them to the end of the lane where the Milk truck would come by and pick them up.At the end of the month a check for the milk we sold to the creamery would arrive in the mail and also the milk man would leave 5 lbs. of cheese in one of the milk cans he left for us to start the process over again.If the milkman picked up 5 cans of milk he would leae 5 empty cans to be filled for the next day. then hop on a tractor and do farm work until dark,sometimes it didn't get dark until 10 p.m..So I didn't have much time for fun.But I learned a lot about farming and cattle as I started my own ranch in the 90s with Longhorn cows and a Hereford bull.This cross breeding is a good way to get a lean piece of meat without all the fat content.