the beefmaster story
history of the breed
Tom Lasater, founder of the BEEFMASTER breed, was one of those rare individuals who knew from childhood what profession he was going to pursue. He was fond of saying that ranching is his avocation as well as his vocation. Tom Lasater's philosophies of cattle raising encompasses all aspects of the business from range ecology to merchandising. Perhaps his philosophy can be labeled "creative radicalism." A good manager must be in love with results. A sound breeding program, oriented toward results, should be based on the Five Commandments of Livestock Breeding.
The First Commandment is to select only for the SIX ESSENTIALS; Disposition, Fertility, Weight, Conformation, Milk Production and Hardiness.
The Second Commandment is to strive for reproductive efficiency.
The Third Commandment is to performance test in a constant environment.
The Fourth Commandment is to employ direct selection, which means selecting for the specific traits sought and not for a combination the breeder hopes will produce the desired results.
The Fifth Commandment is to utilize the adaptive powers of nature. Tom Lasater's policy was to ask the impossible of nature.
The Six Essentials
Selecting for disposition is simple. At Weaning time, any difference in individuals is readily apparent in cattle raised under identical conditions. The bulk of animals with poor dispositions can be spotted at that time and culled. Thereafter, disposition is judged continually with any noticeably excitable or high-strung animals being periodically eliminated from the herd.
The importance of fertility in the cattle business is obvious, and yet today's ranchmen have failed to produce cattle that are fertile. Selection for reproductive efficiency consists of a short breeding season; males and females bred at 12 1/2 months to 14 1/2 months and a calf from every cow every year - regardless. Reproductive efficiency also involves accomplishing the foregoing while keeping 80 - 90% of each heifer crop in order to intensify culling of the cow herd.
The vast majority of cattle are marketed on a weighed basis. The importance of weight is universally recognized. In selecting bulls for weight two factors are involved: (1) weaning weight and (2) post-weaning gain. The weaning weight reflects the milking ability of the mother; the post-weaning gain indicates the individual's own capability.
In selecting for conformation, what is really under consideration is carcass conformation. As Tom Lasater said, "the ideal conformation is exemplified by that animal whose carcass will yield the most pounds of tender, lean beef per pound of live weight." Fortunately, selection for this characteristic is not difficult because, given the chance, nature correlates many of the desirable traits in beef cattle such as body length, weaning weight, fertility, feedlot performance and cutability.
"Hardiness is exemplified by those individuals which carry on their relentless production assignment year after year with minimum assistance,". Every environment tests cattle in some fashion whether it is the cold, heat, drought, too much rain, parasites, rough terrain, predators, low quality feed or any other of the many problems that affect the rancher. Cattle should be raised in the environment in which they are to be used. Given that prerequisite, they should be able to adapt to the particular disadvantages of their geographic location. If they do not, obviously they will be unable to breed at 13 months or to wean a heavy, long-age calf nine months old or older every year.
Selection for milk production is a simple matter of evaluating the cow's milking abilities as reflected in her calf's weaning weight. In the case of bulls, herd sires are selected from bulls with top weaning weights thereby perpetuating the blood from heavy-milking females. Heifers are culled on weight at weaning; cows weaning light-weight calves are also eliminated.