The Versatile Texas Longhorn Offers Many Happy Returns
By Daryl Allemand, Allemand Ranches
We have been in the longhorn business for twenty years now. Dad bought our first four cows and a bull in the spring of 1983. We are now running about 175 head. We select sixty of our top registered females and, of course, some of our favorite registered females to breed to our registered longhorn bulls. The rest of the registered cows are bred to Shaver Beef Blend, a composite breed, and Simmental.
Our primary sales are to commercial cattle operations. These operations use Texas Longhorn bulls on their commercial heifers.
We also breed fifty red Angus heifers to our longhorn bulls every year. The trouble-free calving is a plus on our year-end product. Our goal then is to raise functional bulls with high performance and disposition.
We are set up to background the commercial longhorn-cross calves at home with our 275 Angus calves. They are also incredible grass cattle. We have been backgrounding our longhorn-cross calves for fifteen years now. Recently we have bought other longhorn-cross calves for our feedlot. We increased our backgrounded Texas Longhorn calves to 150 to 250 head, depending on the year. The calves are fed to gain about 2.5 pounds a day. The amazing thing we have found is that we very seldom have to treat them. This only means money in the bank. If a calf is sick it does not gain.
The longhorn cow just seems to outdo herself on grass. We can be very dry on occasion, and they always bring in a calf in the fall. We maintain that it isn't how many cows you run, it is how many pounds per acre you can raise off your grass that will make you a dollar.
On an average winter, we have to start feeding around the end of December. We feed with a feed wagon. This means that it only takes one person to feed and do the chores. The longhorn cows are in a separate field from all the other cattle. Their feed rations are all scaled out. On average, Angus cows will winter on 30 31 pounds of feed a day, when the longhorn cows will winter on 24 to 26 pounds of feed a day. In the case of a long winter, the savings are significant.
The rate of gain on the cross calves coming off grass and into the feedlot is amazing. Here are some statistics from a feed lot where 167 head of longhorn cross calves were fed for 123 days during 2001:
- The daily gain was 3.41 pounds per day.
- The average floor weight at slaughter was 1,129 pounds and the yield was 60.693%.
- The grading results were 45% graded AAA, 54% graded AA, and 2% graded A The proof is in the numbers. The feeding results, along with the bonus of calving ease, are moving the Texas Longhorn breed to the forefront.
One other advantage of this breed is working with the longhorn cattle. They move well when we trail them, and they have a wonderful disposition when you are handling them. All our work is done on horseback.
In closing, I would encourage anyone considering the longhorn cattle business. Take time to sit down and consider your cost of product. The Texas Longhorn has so many possibilities when it comes to marketing. You can use your cows as commercial cows and market the calf as a feeder, the weaker calves can move as recreation cattle, and the top end of your herd can promote the registered side. You will be amazed by how the Texas Longhorn will perform for you. Our slogan here at Allemand Ranches is "Moving into the future with a breed from the past."
Daryl and Connie Allemand and their sons Tanner and Tyler ranch in southwest Saskatchewan, Canada.