Southwestern Cattlemen Sustain Through Dry Season

Dry conditions and limited resources are challenging cattle producers in many parts of the U.S. Some are using Hereford genetics to cope. Summer droughts. Limited resources. Only the most resilient cattle make it through these harsh challenges.

Roy Lee Criswell of Pep, New Mexico, trusts Hereford-cross cattle to do it best. “These Hereford bulls on these black cows give us the F1 Cross that put more feed efficiency, along with that hybrid vigor, into these calves. The longevity of these bulls is their feet. They don’t break down. Coming out here to this desert country, they’ve got to have good feet to be able to travel; getting on top of these cows and coming off on these rocks, we need bulls to keep going. We don’t want to have to put a lot of feed put in them to get them to breed back.”

In the Southwest, where rainfall is scarce and feed costs are climbing, ranchers and feeders prefer calves that gain weight more efficiently, like Criswell’s F1-cross cattle.

“At the end of the day, the yield grades are a lot higher, which is more beneficial to our pocket at the yard and more beneficial to the feeding operation. When you get higher yields and quality carcasses, you’re going to get dividends. Here we are, seven months later and they’re weighing 1,350 and 1,400 pounds. That is what’s fun—when you drive by the pens every morning and get to see the growth in them.”

Black baldy cows consume two pounds less of voluntary forage intake per day than straightbred black cows. That’s according to an Oklahoma State University study that shows a $50 savings per cow, per year.

“They’re the easiest to work, easiest to get on feed and they’re probably some of the best converting cattle that we get to handle. If you can keep cattle calm and laying down, especially in times like right now where it’s 101, they’re just going to continue to convert feed and gain and, man, it pays in the back end.”

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