SOUTHERN PRODUCERS ARE UTILIZING BRANGUS GENETICS

by: Kayla Wilkins
Agricultural Communications, Texas Tech University

When ranchers in the Southern United States are asked to list ideal characteristics for cattle in their operations, they may share several things in common. This may include increased maternal characteristics, maintaining high carcass merit, ideal growth rate and heat tolerance in their cattle. If a rancher checks all these qualities off the list, they would achieve a higher profitability operation. This goal can be achieved by introducing Brangus genetics in a commercial herd for the opportunity to reach maximum heterosis or into a seedstock operation.

Utilizing Brangus genetics in a herd has many benefits whether a producer has been in this industry for 30 years or just starting their operation. Many characteristics within the breed are attractive to older producers as well as young producers who see the potential Brangus has to offer.

Wes Williamson, past president of the Florida Cattlemen's Association, is a strong supporter of the Brangus breed. He has received the Commercial Producer of the Year award from the International Brangus Breeders Association (IBBA) and continues to grow his operation.

“God, for some reason, has blessed me and my family and given us an opportunity to be stewards of a very small piece of his earth and take care of a few of His cattle,” Williamson said, “and I am just blessed.”

He currently runs about 10,000 head of cattle, using Brangus genetics for the majority of his herd sires and females. Williamson said he has seen a lot of changes for the better within the industry, but more specifically the breed.

“The Brangus breed has come a really long way, I think, in the last 20 years,” Williamson said. “The cattle do very good in the feedlot…the carcass characteristics have improved dramatically, and then the basic, number one reason I use them is because of the maternal aspect of the females.”

Producers around the world are realizing the above average maternal qualities of the Brangus females. Maternal characteristics are among the top reasons for operations to bring in Brangus genetics.

“Maternal value of these animals is unbelievable,” said Joseph Lettelier, owner of Lettelier Brangus in Florida.

Many breeders across the country agree they are very passionate about the utilization of Brangus genetics. The maternal qualities and the tolerance to hot and humid climates make the breed ideal for many operations, especially in the Southeast. Even so, many producers worry that introducing the Brahman genetics of the Brangus breed into the herd can negatively impact an operation, but this is not true anymore.

“They thought Brangus cattle were a little too heavy Brahman and they were going to give up something by using them, but I don't think that is factual anymore,” Williamson said. “I think they are the complete cow for us. They really do a good job.”

The Brahman influence in Brangus has proven to increase profitability for many cattlemen across the board. This is true for not only feed lot calves, but mature cows as well.

“The industry has found out the Brangus will wean, with a good bull, a 100 or 150 pound heavier calf than Angus, because they have the Braham frame on them,” Lettelier said. “With the animals as far as salvage value go, we are getting $1,500 to $1,700 for a cow if she weighs $1,400 to $1,500 pounds.”

Seasoned producers said the association has undergone a lot of positive changes throughout the years. These changes have been both internal, with changes in the breed genetics, and external, with advances in industry technology. Representatives of the Brangus association said they have worked very hard to assure the highest quality beef cattle they can. It has been a long process, but advancements in technology like artificial insemination, embryo transfer, genomically enhanced EPDs and many more have only helped.

Charles Sword, along with his wife, Norma Sword, and their business partner, Bo Huddleston, have been utilizing purebred Brangus for 30 years on their ranch, Char-Nor Farm. Charles is currently serving on the Board of Directors for the IBBA, and said they have seen a lot of ups and downs in the industry. Norma plays a huge role in the daily tasks at the operation and agrees Brangus has made strong advancements.

“We are strong performance advocates,” Norma said. “We have collected data on our cattle from the beginning, starting in 1984. We have participated in the services the Brangus breed has offered, which has changed tremendously throughout the years.”

Data collection is very important to producers for breed advancements. Charles said the more data there is, the better chances there are of continuing to improve the breed genetics as a whole.

Although technology has played a big role in breed progress, it is not the only change Brangus breeders have undergone. Lettlier said the consumer decides what the industry will produce.

“Big, tall cattle were popular when I first started,” Lettelier said. “Now, we breed to a more moderate bull, but yet increased my quality, increased my carcass value, weaning weight and yearling weights.”

Williamson said Brangus cattle are not just strong on the maternal side anymore; they are not giving up anything from a feedlot standpoint when compared to other commercial cattle.

“We are seeing that these Brangus sired calves will perform with the best calves in the feedlot,” Williamson said. “Brangus sired steers fed as good, were as impressive looking and converted feed better than almost anything out there in the feedlot.”

Williamson is not alone in this common trend of efficiency in the Brangus breed within the feedlot. Many cattlemen have started utilizing Brangus for this reason.

“They are very valuable with their consistency and longevity and hardiness,” said Charles Sword. “They have a lot of advantages in the commercial cattle market.”

The IBBA has not only influenced the commercial and purebred cattle markets, but the youth as well. Quinn Carter, an International Junior Brangus Breeders (IJBBA) member from Florida, has been involved in the association for a short time, relative to some adult members, and said it has impacted her life in a positive way.

“I have been in this for five years, and I already have tons of friends all over the world,” Carter said. “It has helped me with responsibility and becoming the person I am today.”

Carter said she is very excited about the association and the youth coming through. She often hosts clinics to help young showmen in the Brangus association and said she feels like giving back to the youth of the association is what it is all about.

A steady trend in all Brangus breeders is the genuine love for the breed. Whether it's a commercial or seedstock operation, utilizing Brangus genetics helps producers make progress and obtain goals.

“We are excited about the Brangus breed,” Charles Sword said. “I think we are in a better position than we have been in a long time. I really think that Brangus should break out, and hopefully we will attract more breeders and hopefully our genetics will be used in the commercial industry more than they are used today.”

The Swords have been in the Brangus business for many years and said they would not have it any other way.

“It's great for us that we still, after 30 years, feel so strongly about these cattle,” Norma Sword said. “Most purebred breeders' average length of time in operation is five to seven years, or people change breeds. We were happy we chose Brangus. We were happy with them then and happy with them now.”

According to producers young and old, this is a breed that has shown amazing improvement over the years and remains on the forefront of technology to do the same in the coming years. The people within this association share a common trend of fervent belief in Brangus genetics.

For more information about how Brangus genetics can impact your operation, contact the IBBA at 210-696-8231 or visit their website at www.GoBrangus.com.







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