The Profitable Cow

Cowboy Logic: “The best thing about the future is that it doesn’t start until tomorrow”

It’s been a busy winter for us here in Mozambique and it’s not always possible to get to a place with good internet access to post as much as we would like. All part of living in this “Last Frontier” Speaking of Last Frontier… we didn’t realize it was so last frontier until we got some company from a Lion on the farm. Some interesting times but we are thankful that he didn’t kill any cattle and that all our community members are accounted for and he is now testing the hunting grounds about 80km north from us. Back to the quote. For me personally this quote above resembles the idea that it’s never too late to take your future in your own hands and do something to change… it’s never too late to change your cause of action. This also applies for your breeding goals. Today we had some time to just drive and appreciate our cattle and I am so happy that we decided years ago to change our breeding philosophy… Another Bonsmara breeder stated on their Facebook page today that they are so impressed with their Bonsmara for preforming well during this dry winter, keeping their condition without supplement feed and yes, I do think the breed has something to do with it, but also the type within the breed. We absolutely love the Bonsmara breed and are very passionate about Bonsmara, but we love our type… So, what is our “Type”?

Our Type of animal can be described as an Easy-fleshing, Medium framed, Low maintenance, Un-pampered, efficient animal.

Efficiency… for us here at Toro Ranch it is synonym to words like, Economic or Productive or one of my favorites…. PROFITABLE. Because, let’s face it, we love to farm, but we need to make a living too.

Years ago, cattle breeders associated stud breeding with the romantic scene of Bulls and Cows competing in National Shows and winning Blue Ribbons… Big, animals carrying lot of weight. Yes, big animals do weigh a lot…. But the question is, are they efficient? But a better question: Are they profitable? We see an efficient or a profitable cow as:

  1. A un-pampered or low maintenance cow that weans a good healthy calf every year.
  2. A heifer that calves before 36 months and conceives again in the same breeding season
  3. An Easy-fleshing animal that puts on weight without extra inputs(feed)
  4. Medium framed animal
  5. An early maturing animal.

If you want to run a profitable operation then fertility is your most important trait. Studies have shown reproductive traits are as important as growth traits, which are twice as important as carcass traits. Traditionally farmers selected for growth at the expense of reproduction and profitability. We believe bigger is not better, and bigger is less fertile.

We breed our cows to wean a calve that weighs about 50% of her weight. That means if your cow weighs 450kg she should wean a calf of about 225kg at 205 days (7 Months) of age. We can Guarantee that a cow of 800kg will never wean a calf of 400kg.The bigger a cow is the less the weaning weight percentage will be. You can keep almost double the number of animals on the same land, and wean more kilograms, and that is what makes medium framed animals more efficient. Although the farms in Mozambique are big, we need to start thinking profit per ha.

Although people might feel that heritability of fertility is so low that one shouldn’t waste time to select for it (?) focus should be on traits like growth or carcass traits BUT, everything is connected and nothing stands isolated. We believe that is easy to select for a trait like fertility… Fertility is a product of Easy-fleshing, Easy-fleshing is a product of low maintenance requirements. Reproduction cannot take place until maintenance requirements have been met… in other words, if you are selecting for traits like, Easy-fleshing and Low maintenance, you automatically selected for fertility.

I got a WhatsApp message this afternoon from an old acquaintance. He wanted to share a photo of one of his 2-year-old bull (different breed). Nice looking fellow, so I replied with a photo I just took this morning of a group of heifers that are weaned and immediately he wanted to know what we are feeding them.

I replied: They are grass fed. He couldn’t believe that animals could be in this condition this time of year and he then stated that we must be feeding them some supplements because according to him Bonsmara’s success is 50% feeding and the other 50% is also the feeding…. well… this can’t be further from the truth. First, In Mozambique it isn’t as easy as in a country like South Africa to buy feed or licks. Here it’s kind of a logistic nightmare to get feed and very expensive with the transport and import and we spend years into breeding animals that can reproduce with minimum inputs in many different environments so why feed them up again? At Toro Ranch, we are showing feeders that you can farm profitably with cattle IF you got the right type. At Toro Ranch, we only give animals Mineral Licks or Phosphate licks.

$maller Cows = Bigger Profit$

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