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With the high cost of fuel and fertilizer, cattlemen are looking for a way to keep their cost down and at the same time produce a better product. Looking back about fifty years ago after World War II when fuel, fertilizer, and feed were cheap, ranchers began feeding cattle and feedlots came into being. It was only in 1967 that the cattle feeders association of Texas was formed. Before that time, however, cattle were developed mainly on forages. So, the way cattle were produced was changed. However, in the last several years fuel and fertilizers have really increased in price, and cattle producers realize that they need to find a more economical way to produce beef. If cattle can gain on grasses without having to spend so much on fertilizer and feed, that will sure help the bottom line. Another important factor that is surfacing is that animals developed on forages and less grain are healthier and produces a healthier product for the consumer. The challenge is finding the animals that do well on forages. In order to do that, a rancher needs to have a good bull that is developed on forages and can keep up with the herd that is already acclimated to making it in the pasture. His genetic influence will further the herd’s foraging ability if he is an easy fleshing and low maintenance individual.
John and Carolyn Kopycinski of Oak Creek Farms, breeders of Brangus and Angus cattle in Chappell Hill, Texas since 1967, are doing just that. They are developing their cattle on forages and selecting the cattle that do well in this hot humid environment. All cattle don’t develop well in this part of the country, so finding the ones that work here are imperative.
John Kopycinski says, “You have to select cattle that do well in your area. Just because they do well in Nebraska or another state further north does not mean they will do well here. They get less rain there, but their grasses are stronger, so the animals are acclimated not only to their climate, but to the forages in that area. Soil testing is also important so that the rancher knows what will thrive on the soil and what fertilizers to use. We have our bulls grazing on Tifton 85.”
“Also, you need to be careful of cattle that are in front of a feed trough much of their life. These animals are not developed to make it on forages. I am selecting for cattle that do the best on forages and culling cattle that don’t.”
“I think that cattle in our climate need to have more developed sweat glands and have less hair in this climate than those cattle further north. All of these factors are important when selecting and breeding cattle. Our Brangus Bulls on the forage test, which takes place in the hot humid summer, have consistently out gained our Angus on average. However, at the same time we have been breeding and selecting for more heat tolerant and forage efficient Angus within our herd. We breed both Brangus and Angus to meet the needs of the cattlemen in our area depending on the type of cattle that they have.”
The Kopycinskis know that it is especially important to develop their bulls on forages, because they will be put right back out in the pasture after they are sold. Naturally, these bulls will not gain as much weight as they would if they were on full feed, but they will be in better condition and have increased reproductive efficiency along with increased libido. Commercial cattlemen need bulls that are ready to go and accustomed to covering ground. A good bull does not need to be over conditioned. He just needs to carry the genetics that will give his calves the ability to gain weight and finish.
In addition to forage testing, Oak Creek Farms also uses ultra sounding and DNA testing for marbling and tenderness to help them in selecting the best bulls. Using genetics that thrive on forages and also produce an optimum product is their goal.
Oak Creek Farms’ will auction 103 forage tested bulls along with around 200 commercial females that are primarily out of Oak Creek Farms’ bulls on Saturday, October 29th at Oak Creek Farms Sales Facility located on FM 1371 about 10 miles north of Bellville going toward Chappell Hill (take FM 1456 out of Bellville). These females out of Oak Creek Farms’ Bulls give their bull customers a place to market their heifers and the buyer a reliable source.
For more information about cattle development and forages visit the Cooperative Extension Service web site at www.tamu.edu or contact you county agent.
OAK CREEK FARMS
John and Carolyn Kopycinski
13750 FM 1371 Chappell Hill, Texas 77426
Ph: (979) 836-6832 Fax: (979) 836-4542