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The common rap on Bos indicus is they can’t grade, but Pine Ridge Ranch claims its cross not only provides heat tolerance but provides tender carcasses at 85% Choice, with no Yield Grade 4s and 5s.
A bias against Bos indicus?
Anyone who knows Travis knows his market for selling breeding stock stretches beyond the southern U.S. And they know he’ll stand up for his Simbrah and other eared cattle.
Africa, Australia, Central and South America, Mexico and Asian countries are seeing more producers and breeders who are eager to improve their production efficiency and their beef quality, Travis says. They want cattle that can perform efficiently in hot climates.
“There are still a lot of people who think our type of cattle are low in quality,” Travis adds. “They don’t think they’ll perform at the ranch, at the feedyard, or at the packer. But we’ve shown time and again that, through breeding and research, we’ve developed an animal that consistently produces a high percentage Choice, is tender, and no Yield Grade 4s or 5s.”
Texas A&M University (TAMU) and the American Brahman Breeders Association recently hosted a Beef Improvement Federation annual meeting. Part of the impetus was to change that perception of eared breeds, Joe Paschal, Texas AgriLife Exten-sion livestock specialist in Corpus Christi, explains.
“Tours of American breed or ‘eared’ breeders exposed many northern cattle producers, researchers and Extension specialists to what these breeds looked like and how they could perform in various environments,” Paschal says. “Many still had the idea that Brahman-influenced cattle resembled rodeo stock. We completely changed their mind.”
Paschal says the Travises have been among ranchers and seedstock operators who took advantage of TAMU Ranch to Rail steer feed-out programs, and later Ranch to Rail through New Mexico State University. The Travises weren’t new to cattle feeding but were interested in how their cattle performed against other breeds, he says.
Started in 1991, these programs offered producers the opportunity to see how their calves would perform in the feedyard and at the packer. They also showed the importance of a solid vaccination and weaning program at the ranch in order to enhance animal health.
“Travis had several types of Simmental and Simbrah crosses in the Ranch to Rail – South Program,” Paschal recalls. “Those cattle were really growthy, gaining 3+ lbs./day and finished Choice and high Select, with very little if any sickness or treatment costs.”
That was early in the history of Pine Ridge Ranch. Travis took what he learned from those initial feed-out results and gradually improved his production.
“He is one who took the data home and did something with it,” Paschal says. “He made his selections based off those and other performance records.”
The traits sought by Travis are virtually the same ones he and his wife listed over 30 years ago. They want heifers that calve at two years of age, and cows that calve every 12 months. They want good calving ease, and calves with a low birth weight and high growth rate (other goals of their program are listed at www.simbrah.com).
“We DNA test on all donor cows and bulls to measure as many traits as possible,” Travis says. “And we ultrasound every yearling to measure backfat and marbling.”
Jane, who is as involved in the operation as Bill, documents data on each animal. And she’s always seeking more information. “We feed out all steers and get carcass data back so we can correlate their performance with their bloodline,” she says.
Bill is an engineering graduate, with a Harvard University MBA with concentration on production and finance. He uses that engineer mindset in the cattle business. Every aspect of a heifer, cow, bull or steer is considered. “We have a system to measure the growth-to-feed conversion out of our bulls,” he notes.
He is a firm believer that all breeds of cattle are good; they just need to fit their environment. “I don’t feel our cattle need to go much further north than Oklahoma or Kansas. They are bred for performance in warm-weather climates,” he says.