All about Performance

For this special performance focused edition of the magazine we asked some Brahman breeders to share what performance means to them in their programs. Some breeders chose to answer a list of questions we sent to them, while others wrote what performance means to them in their program.

Below are the questions that were sent and either the answers or breeders own thoughts about what performance means to them. We hope you enjoy learning more from a variety of breeders and perspectives.

What are your Performance Breeding goals? What practices do you follow in obtaining Performance data on your herd? How important a role does your operation place on Performance? How has your operation benefited from your emphasis on Performance Breeding? What future and role do see Performance Breeders having in our Association? Any general observations/lessons learned along the journey towards increasing your herd Performance? Are there any specifi c bloodlines that you believe have helped the performance of your herd? What factors do you think are most important in increasing the efficiency of your herd? What factors do you think are the easiest to control in managing and improving performance in your herd? What would you like to see from the Association with regards to communication and education concerning performance. How do you measure your successes? What tools or methods do you use to gather data to make your decisions? How often do you gather data? How reliable do you find the methods that you use? Are some more reliable than others? Do you gather data on your entire herd or only a portion? What traits do you think are most important to performance in your herd and what do you do to try to improve these traits? What are the best tools that a breeder can use to move forward regarding carcass performance improvement? Have you used any of the Brahman Association programs for performance?


Our goal is to produce functional, moderate frame, phenotypically correct animals possessing genotypes that will perform well for the commercial cattleman and excel into today’s commercial beef market.

We 100% DNA test and 100% scan our bull and heifer yearlings and obtain hanging carcass data on 100% of all steers processed. Performance is among our highest priorities and factors into EVERY mating decision for each individual animal in our herd.

Functional benefits from size moderation include significant improvement in calving ease and fertility. Improved udder and teat scores. 80% of our steers are grading choice and this has allowed us to start up a successful retail Brahman beef business that is being very well received in the retail beef market. Currently there are two primary types of breeders in our Association. Performance Breeders and Show Ring Breeders. While both are equally important to our breed, Association resources are disproportionately distributed among the two. Our Association needs to increase emphasis on the Performance aspect of our breed for greater equity and unity. As far as the future role of Performance Breeders in our Association, I see them, with increased Association attention, being the single greatest asset to reverse the current negative standing of our breed in today’s commercial beef industry.

Desired tenderness and marbling traits exist in both Horned and Polled Brahmans but seem to be a bit more predominate in Polled Brahman genetics. Brahman cattle CAN INDEED PRODUCE HIGHLY MARKETABLE QUALITY BEEF – with proper selective breeding. (O.W. Schneider)


Kempfer Cattle Company’s number one goal is to raise high quality bulls for our commercial cattle operation and that of our customers. Since the early 1990’s a considerable amount of emphasis has been placed on performance testing and breeding to raise more efficient and productive cattle. Around this time, we also started paying a lot more attention to carcass traits, primarily quality grade and tenderness. In doing so we have been very cautious not to overlook some of the traits that we feel are crucial in terms of profitability: Primarily fertility, fleshing ability, structure, body capacity, udder and teat quality, mature weight/frame, birth weights and disposition. We are fortunate to also have a commercial cow calf operation, and this is where we are able to capitalize the most in terms of making improvements to our registered seed stock cattle. Over the last 30 years we have collected feedlot and carcass data (including tenderness) on a large percentage of our Brahman sired steers.

The discouraging thing is how difficult it can still be to make improvements. What I mean by that is there simply aren’t enough Brahman breeders doing the same which could provide a larger pool of genetics for selection. Sure, we can find high growth or “pretty” selections but the production and carcass traits aren’t necessarily found with an eye appraisal. One wrong bull can take us the wrong direction and it could be years before you even know it happened. I would encourage every breeder to try to find a commercial herd to test your animals.

Doing this has allowed us the ability to select genetics that work in a commercial environment and will increase demand for our customer’s cattle. We have donated semen to customers if they were willing to collect data all the way to harvest on steers. Fertility would be the most important trait for us. Although not as heritable, we feel there are a number of traits that affect fertility that are heritable.

Cows are only allowed to be open if they don’t breed back as a first calf 2-year-old heifer, or something happened that we feel was our fault. I know it’s easy to make excuses but we can’t make progress without culling. We started semen testing our bulls around 14-16 months of age about 20 years ago. When we first started we were primarily looking for live sperm cells, now we’re finding bulls that are passing the BSE.

This weighs heavy when selecting our future herd sires. Bulls that don’t pass are retested later. We also take advantage of carcass ultrasound technology by testing all of our yearlings. This is another tool that we can use to compare and ratio them against their contemporaries.

Birth weights are also top priority. If they’re high on purebreds, you can only expect them to be higher when crossbreeding which is the purpose of most of our genetics. We use the tape to measure birth weights and yes it can be a big challenge with some, but we find a way to get it done.

We don’t do teat and udder scores, but cull anything that isn’t near perfect. Often times the new born calf will score the teats for you. Who has time to nurse calves? I know we don’t and I sure don’t want my customers to either. Calf vigor is also heritable and certainly worth recording. For the last four years, we have also been placing the majority of our weanling bulls on a Grow Safe Feed Efficiency test at the University of Florida’s facility in Marianna, FL. We have been able to identify some cows that seem to really pass on feed efficiency.

This test is fairly expensive and I’m not sure that it’s something we will continue to do every year however, it still has a lot of value. We have scales on our squeeze chutes for collecting weights on cows and bulls. The first year we weighed the cows was a big eye opener. The smallest cow weighed 1100 pounds and was one of the best cows in the herd, we didn’t think she weighed 1,000 and sure didn’t think the bigger cows were 1,400.

The majority of our cows today weigh 1,050 to 1,250 and the bulls 2,000 to 2,200. Weaning weights are collected on all calves and we also take disposition scores at this time. I think people will be arguing about what is the perfect frame size or weight forever. However, if you weigh and measure performance you can find what works best for your operation and hopefully your customers as well. For us it’s all about adding value to our herd and increasing profitability for our customers. We will continue to collect data and try to find ways to improve our cattle. One key point is that collecting the data is typically the easy part, using it can sometimes be the biggest challenge. Just understand that you might not always like what the data shows you, but it helps us make decisions to improve our genetics. It’s exciting for us to see the improvements our cow herd has made over the last 30 years, but even more so thinking about the improvements still yet to come. I believe it is crucial for more Brahman breeders to get involved in performance testing.

Our breed is already discriminated against enough as it is, primarily for carcass traits, fertility and disposition. These are all traits that can be improved. I’m confident that there are some exceptional Brahmans in existence today, and we won’t even know where they are unless we get more breeders involved in testing.

ABBA’s bull test and EAR programs are great opportunities so take advantage of them, especially if you can’t find a commercial breeder with which to collaborate. Also realize that an inaccurate weight or birthdate submission can be detrimental to the accuracy of our EPD’s. We need more data! (George Kempfer)


Satterfield Ranch is located in the rolling piney wood hills of East Texas. We pride ourselves on being a family owned seedstock cattle operation that continuously works with our customers to provide high performing animals with genetic merit. We believe in functional cattle with superior genetics, and cattle that have strong carcass data to keep improving the breed we love.

We share a strong trust in our cow herd and believe they carry a lot of weight when selecting herd sires and cattle we keep back in our herd.

Our goal is to raise animals that excel in the pasture and continue to be profitable for our ranch and our customers. (Clayton Bridges)


At Heritage Cattle Company we use several strategies to be successful. One is adopting an innovative philosophy: use the tools provided by technological advancements. While the primary revenue stream for commercial cattle producers is beef production based strictly on phenotypic traits, as a seedstock producer, we also focus on the accumulation of genetic merit. Accurate weights and measurements, fertility markers, and carcass scan data are a few of the tools we utilize and tie with SNP DNA markers.

Detailed record keeping has become much easier by interfacing with the American Brahman Breeders Association’s Digital Beef online registry. At Heritage, we weigh each calf at birth, note calving and nursing ease, and collect DNA material for submission to Zoetis. While we do still keep hard copy records, we also add this information to our online record keeping program, as well as Digital Beef.

At weaning, calves’ weights and hip heights, their disposition, and dams’ udder condition are recorded. Yearling measurements include the addition of scrotal circumference for the bulls. Heritage has been using Parent Verification in our herd for several years. We feel as seedstock producers, it is our responsibility to confirm the genetics we are offering customers.

We are proud to add that we now have whole herd SNP DNA profiles. As the older STR technology was phased out, we worked hard to upgrade our entire active breeding herd to the freshest technology available.

Our customers are given the added value of having Parent Verified DNA on file with the ABBA, tied to the animal’s digital registry, and ready for predicting inherited traits as accurately as possible. Beginning with our 2022 calf crop, all calves born at Heritage have HD50K SNP profiles.

As ABBA adds more genomic data, we expect our herd to be able to reflect this innovation. Ultrasound provides a non-invasive technique to collect carcass data without having to harvest the animal. We schedule scans, performed by a UGC certified technician, every three to four months. Submitted by an approved lab to ABBA, Heritage ultrasound data is used to calculate EPD for ribeye area and intramuscular fat.

We have seen our EPD accuracies increase as we add more scan data on our genetic lines. (That little yellow line on the EPD page of each animal’s EPD is getting shorter!) While we whole heartedly believe that single trait selection is not always beneficial, Heritage diligently strives to collect accurate performance data so that we, as well as our customers, can optimize the genetic investment. Technology, Innovation, Performance… tools we use to consistently strive for Economic Efficiency in #Hbranded Brahman genetics. (Judd Cullers)


Our breeding goal is to produce sires and donors with predictability and propagate only the animals that check all the boxes along the chain and gives us a final product that the customer is willing to pay a premium for.

We have three main objectives and practices we follow: for breed characteristics – we use visual evaluation; feed conversion efficiency and growth (RFI&ADG) we use feed conversion efficiency testing at the GDC; IMF and REA/ CWT we use ultrasound measurement at the end of GDC test. All ST and HK animals are genomically tested at Genetic Visions.

Performance is the number one driver in the selection process. Even though conformation, pedigree etc. plays a big role in the decision-making progress, the reality is that most of the animals check those boxes. We are looking for animals with breed characteristics, pedigree but whose progeny are outliers for growth, efficiency, and carcass merits. We provide information on all the animals we sell; more and more people are realizing that the ones that they pick based on visual observation or pedigree also have good marbling, are efficient and gain well.

Two reasons for that, we have more animals that check all the boxes, and the breeders are getting more educated in what are the goals for the specific traits. There is no such thing as a “non-performance breeder”, they might not pay attention to performance, but their cattle will perform one way or the other. The problem for them is that they will get added value for their product. The programs that are putting selection pressure on measurable traits, tied with genomics will be able to capture the added value of the market.

We will have to see where the market takes us but so far there are clear indications of what is a desirable product for different markets. Select has a market but is not very high value. We must make a big effort to progeny test sires, it is the only way we have today to have predictable breeding values. The rest is a “roll of the dice”. We need to identify the sires and donors whose progeny are outliers for whatever traits we are selecting for.

Collecting data is not cheap. Garbage in, garbage out. You manage what you measure. As for bloodlines, Karu for sure gave the carcass traits imprint that we have in the gray herd. In the HK herd we haven’t identified any dominant sire for a specific trait. Even though the highest marbling score ever scanned on a Brahman bull (red or gray) at the GDC was a HK bull.

Feed Conversion Efficiency combined with gain is the most important factor in increasing efficency. It does not do much good to have an animal that is efficient but does not gain. Using known genetics is a factor we can control. I would like for the breeders, not the association, to “take the blinders off ”.

The cattle have very high prices, good demand, the work is well done but in the commercial market, the only way to enter the chain is with a big discount. Don’t blame the industry, start working on it. We measure what we manage. We have moved the needle up in marbling scores, ADG and improving feed conversion efficiency but do not have enough information yet to make accurate predictions. I personally consider is a success that we are talking about performance!! We have our own platform called FarmFit® in which all the sectors are interconnected for the collection, processing and analysis of the data generated. We use this as a tool to make decisions.

The most important part of any decision aid tool you use is to input correct data. We run all our purebred animals though the GDC, normally in two tests a year. Tests are 100 days long with 20 days adaptation, 70 days on feed intake and gain test and a cool down period. During the test animals are weighed every 15 days and get carcass ultrasound at the end of the test. We gather data on every single animal, if not you are lying to yourself.(Gustavo Toro)


Mike used the performance EPD’s and pedigrees to select the cows to put with the bulls when we put our breeding pastures together and he knew what traits from his bulls would match good with the cows. One main criteria was low birth weights and disposition – he always tried to keep the cows in good condition to breed and re-breed. If you did the BHIR (which he did for close to 30 years) then there was a basis for a good comparison among the cattle.

Calving ease was very important also, if the cow had trouble having the calf or if he had to suckle it the next year she went with an Angus. All the notes and info filled out in the BHIR book was, and is helpful when registering the calves. For the past few years he always put his first calf heifers with an Angus bull to get the Golden Certified F1 calf.

The Angus cows had no problems having calves. The second calf for the Brahman cow, she was put with a Brahman bull and made a good mama cow. One major thing I would like to see from the ABBA is for them to get the Digital Beef Program to add something to the program to give the cow credit for having a calf. At the present time there is no way to do that – thus the cow doesn’t get credit for having a calf. It should be that if a cow has a calf she should get credit for it, as it doesn’t matter what kind of calf she has, as long as she has a calf.

Hopefully this is something the Performance Committee can work on, so that breeders can give the cows credit for their F1 calves. The way we gather data is to ride each pasture everyday of the calving season and use a hoof measuring tape for correct weight, write down every birthdate, sire, dam, calving ease, nursing, teat and udder score and if the calf was born without problems.

We put special notes on the side, such as ‘big teats put with Angus’ or ‘had to suckle’. We always put the bulls out the middle of May and pick up the middle of August, mainly because Mike liked a 90 day breeding season. We wean calves in the fall and let the cows get ready for the winter. Plenty of hay is off ered as soon as the grass is gone to keep them in good shape. We pregnancy test in the fall and cull out open cows. Data is continually kept when working the cows – worming, spraying for flies, shots given, weaning calves, putting out the bulls, how much hay put out in each pasture in the winter.

Data is kept on the entire herd for the best comparisons. It is always important to try and improve your herd and through the years we have added different blood lines, but Mike especially liked the Doc Holiday 539/8 bull we acquired in 2001. We raised ten herd sires and two ABBA Premier Show Bulls from Doc Holiday. I don’t know about measuring success, but since the Heart Bar Ranch has been in the business of raising Brahman cattle since the 1930’s and we are still producing and selling Brahman cattle in 2023, I guess that is a measure of some success.

One last thought – Mike’s primary goal for utilizing performance information was to do everything in his power to guarantee all Heart Bar genetics to his commercial, as well as purebred customers. Mike believed that the right kind of Brahman genetics would equal or surpass any other breed in the economical production of quality beef. As President of ABBA he did all he could to encourage all Brahman Breeders to participate in the performance program. (Janet Partin)


First and foremost is to keep in mind that we are breeding cattle for the BEEF Industry. Which means we breed cattle that are productive and desirable in our state of Florida. To produce cattle that are structurally sound, uniform as a group, that have “real” moderate mature size (6 frame or less). Raise cattle that are above average for ribeye size and IMF %.

To breed and produce cattle to be efficient, since they are raised and kept on grass. As a result, the same with other breeders in Florida, our cattle are big middled (lot of capacity) and calve every year. Last but not least and that is to be gentle and easy to handle. We record all birth weights, score teats and bags, and weaning weights. We record yearling weights and at the same time we ultra sound our bulls and record their frame score measurement.

Performance is a main part of our breeding program. Besides visual inspection including structural soundness you have to start with cows that calve annually and have above average weaning weights. Then continue to select heifers and bulls from naturally fertile lines of cattle. Selection of replacement females is easier because you can compare long term which lines of cattle perform better. When you start producing ABBA Maternal Merit award winners in multi generations you are probably going in the right direction.

I think performance is the key for our breed to survive and be relevant in the US BEEF industry. At this point there is not a lot of participation in BHIR with the general members. Because the majority of our members only raise a few cattle and they do not see the importance. When breeders concentrate on 1 or 2 traits they give up having complete animals. Which leads to selling bulls to commercial crossbred breeders that can have problems with these calves that don’t fit the BEEF industry.

Selection needs to be consistent. Bloodlines can and need to be adjusted over time but if you select new herd bulls that have similar characteristics and performance you can continue to make progress. Selecting cattle has to start with light birth weights. Producing calves that are aggressively nursing at birth. From cows that have good clean bags and teats. Which saves so much time and trouble. Select cattle lines that are easy fleshing and here in Florida that means cattle that have a lot of capacity, are big middled and using a term from our neighbor, Howard Bellamy who told me a long time ago, cattle need “lots of bottom”.

Plus being gentle and easy to handle. Bloodlines would be from long term breeders that have similar goals. More from working with these breeders instead of certain bull names. Our strategy is to select your keeper heifers first. Then sell the others unless you have a reason for pulling a top end heifer out and selling. Most important, first and foremost, is having cows that calve each year. Then selecting replacement heifers from these same cows.

On average these heifers will be the deeper bodied, broodier made that just have that “look” of a successful cow. One of the easiest ways to control performance in your herd is to remove problem cows, whether for performance, undesirable bags and udders, bad temperament or structure. If you are going to start fl ushing concentrate on older, established cows with proven performance. Too much emphasis is given to the number of embryos a young heifer can produce instead of if they have any actual production or performance behind her.

I would like to see the ABBA continue to let members and breeders know that our breed was developed for the commercial BEEF industry, not the show ring. Our Brahman breed was developed by early commercial breeders throughout the southeastern states to upgrade their commercial herds by using high performance bulls (Brahmans). We measure success as first getting through a calving season with little or no calf problems or losses, but mainly we measure our successes by having repeat customers that purchase bulls to raise replacement crossbred heifers.

Having new customers come looking for bulls to add back fertility and performance in their herds. Being complemented by visitors and customers for the uniformity in our cow herd and sale bulls. We start at birth collecting data. Birth weights, dam’s teat and bag scores. Weaning weights, quality score and gentleness. Yearling weights as well as scanning information and measured hip height. We gather data on our entire herd when possible and continually throughout the year. During the breeding season we record when cows are in heat to keep track if they come back in heat or if we may be having a problem with a herd bull. (Larry Barthle)


Signature Ranch wants to be able to market cattle that will breed early, calf easy, milk heavy, good footed, and maintain a good body score with IMF scores as high as possible. We’ve worked hard to acquire these genetics traits and are currently mating these traits to fulfill our goals without losing the really good phenotype we have. We track all the normal data and are adding IMF scans this month. Performance is the highest priority here. As the cattle industry is making great strides in carcass quality the Brahman are lagging behind.

Carcass quality in bulls used to produce F1 is a concern for those breeders. Poor quality Brahmans make it really hard to get the prime rating they strive to produce. Signature Ranch has focused on breeding a foundation herd and has not marketed enough to see the benefits we expect in the future. When we do start selling we want to stand behind our cattle in a way that will raise the standard in the Brahman world. Performance focused breeders are the future.

I think the only market for poor carcass traits will be the show ring. We’ve learned that docility is the common denominator. A flighty animal doesn’t settle in and gain at the rates of the rest in the pasture. Good weaning weights with IMF traits will be key factors, as long as they don’t impact calving ease.

All we can do is to breed these traits and push standards as high as possible. We try to find traits we want to use where ever we can find them, not in a specific bloodline. I don’t think there are any easy factors to control. When you pay top dollar for a cow only to fi nd out later she’s a slow breeder or has big teats, bad feet, and have to send her to the sale barn, this really hurts our bottom line and makes us question our commitment to our goals.

I would like the ABBA to continue to educate us, work shops and short courses would be a big help. I want to see the accuracy of the EPDs improved and use real measurements to overwrite old EPDs. I’d like to see a statistical analysis program incorporated into their website so we can search specific traits and see bell curves. When I can sell any cow or bull I’ve got and feel good about it and feel that is a measure of success.

We make decisions using the normal ways, weights and measurements, age at calving, IMF scores and as per ABBA guidelines we gather data every time they walk in the chute and on our entire herd. We do have a couple that are pets. We haven’t sent them to town, but their calves are sold without papers. (Laney & June Rongey)


We strive to produce cattle that are phenotypically powerful for the show ring but at the same time functional and backed by the objectivity that genetic evaluation offers. A great double distinction that made Santa Elena through the years one of the most reliable sources of American Red Brahman worldwide. We collect all data related to genetic evaluation submitted to ABBA.

In addition, seasonal information on reproduction, AI and ET eff ectiveness, calving intervals, body condition scores, udder problems, culling percentages, etc. We focus on performance as much as we can, keeping in mind that we do not select for extremes. We always look for a balanced animal, including genetic performance, breed character, functionality and reproduction. This focus on performance has been a great benefit to our program, but there is still a lot of room to develop the full potential on Performance Breeding for both the generators and the users of the system.

We strongly believe that Performance Breeders have a key role in ABBA and its future. We need to build a stronger phenotypic and genomic data base as a more reliable source of genetic information. We are always evaluating the performance and efficiency of our own herd, and always listening to our customers and industry needs. Our main purpose is in the balance of traits with the golden triangle in mind; fertility, feed efficiency and beef quality.

We start with moderate birth weights and calving ease in first calf heifers, followed by good growth at weaning and at yearling. Scrotal circumference, age at puberty and docility are also important in our program. We believe that prediction of yield and quality grades in commercial off spring by ultrasound scanning of breeding Brahman cattle is crucial for our breed. We have always put the emphasis on a “curated linebreeding program” to stack proven performance pedigrees in our herd. Many bloodlines have helped our program since our beginning in 1957.

We use AI and ET as much as we can to multiply our best genetics. Always applying selection pressure to our entire population of females and introducing every year young sires to decrease our generation interval. From the genetic stand point the easiest traits to work are the ones with high heritability. We control other traits with low heritability by providing a uniform environment to all animals, and select the outliers and the ones that perform better with the same resources.

We would like to see more extension and technical articles in the ABBA’s communication and education program. We as a breed need to get closer to the commercial cattleman in the Southwest, in the State of Texas and in the Deep South. We need to get closer to the consumer, promoting the sustainability and the higher healthfulness of Brahman beef. Effective leadership in international associations should also be the role of ABBA in communication and education.

Throughout the years, the success of our program has become more a reflection of success of our customers. We use ABBA’s Genetic Evaluation input system, but also a lot of internal data and performance records that are not reflected in the EPD system. We basically gather data all year round. This includes calving ease and docility scores, all weights and measures, and ultrasound records for genetic evaluation. Also, calving intervals, estrous synchronization and heat detection, AI and ET efficiency, rebreeding and mothering ability, culling records, etc. Any objective method of building hard data for genetic selection is always more reliable than subjective appreciation and scores. We always gather data on our entire herd to avoid input biases in the genetic evaluation. (Josefina Muskus)


Performance. It’s what drives our ranching operation. We do not emphasize or breed for the show ring although we do sell animals that end up in the show ring and have had success. Our operation’s main objective is to develop the complete Brahman. What is a complete Brahman? It’s cattle that have Docility, Pounds (Weight, Bone, Mass)

Fertility, with early maturing bulls and females. In 2023 we had the fi rst four polled females achieve Maternal Merit designation. Carcass, we ultrasound to acquire data such as IMF, Ribeye Etc. We have been fortunate to have raised the highest IMF scanning polled Brahman in the breed. Soundness (structural integrity and sound in the undercarriage).

Polled, taking the horns off genetically is the icing on the cake so to speak. To us it’s an improvement in animal husbandry, while providing saving in labor and meds, while improving weight gain and docility. Pedigree is important to a certain extent but the live animal takes precedence over printed paper. Our performance objectives have driven sales to our operation as breeders seek not only our polled genetics but also are looking for fertility in their herd as no one likes to hear that dreaded word, OPEN, when palpating females.

We always say not every female is a donor. Most calves in cattle operations are still born the old fashioned way with that Brahman female having a natural calf. If performance breeding goes by the way side, our breed would be in trouble. Not every bull and female is a show animal nor should they be. A recip cow, sexed semen and IVF are good tools for herd improvement but all said and done we can’t lose sight of the fact that a Brahman cow giving birth to her natural calf is paramount in the development and improvement of our breed. (Rey Salinas)


Our Performance Breeding goal is to breed a new generation of Brahmans that will produce the desired traits more efficiently under future farm economic and social circumstances than the present generation of Brahmans. We collect performance data by reporting all birth, weaning, yearling and scrotal measurements. We have participated in the ABBA steer program and at present we send steers to the feedlot and get kill data three times a year. We scan all the Brahmans at the ranch 3 times a year after weaning.

We have collected DNA on our whole herd and as new calves are born. We think herd reproductive performance is the most important factor. We also cull for phenotype, udders and teats, bad temperament, long sheaths, and structural soundness. By using all of the criteria for our herd we have developed a huge International market. As a Performance Breeder in the ABBA with genomics we can reassure our customers of more accurate EPDs and better breeding decisions.

To improve our herds performance we breed to bulls with a lower birth weight, cull our herd for bad udders, teats, disposition and structural soundness. Most important is a cows fertility. The Brahman cow needs to breed yearly. When we use IVF in our herd we put the cow back with a bull to breed instead of keeping her open to use IVF again. We are continually using ultrasound data to improve our carcass data.

With genomics and submitting data we will be able to better identify those bulls with good EPDS. In our herd we have identified two bulls that have improved our herd’s performance. Mr BER Cash 336 and Mr BER Trump 427s progeny have won numerous ABBA scanning contests. Cash’s progeny have won Total Retail Product, High Marbling and High Scanning animal and a Trump son won High Scanning animal. We use Embryo Transfer, reproductive efficiency and maternal ability to improve the efficiency of our herd.

The most important factor that has improved efficiency in our herd is fertility. We focus on the cows that calve yearly and cull accordingly. Some of the easiest factors that we have used to improve performance are nutritional management, selection criteria for showing, phenotype and carcass data. We like to show our Brahmans so we select for conformation, behavior and structure. We keep liquid feed out year round and have noticed a huge improvement in our herd. We also creep feed all of our calves.

We measure our success by placing high at the shows, good carcass data, great calf crop and being able to sell and market our cattle both national and internationally. We are proud to say we are one of the fi rst Brahman Ranches to have whole herd Genomics. (Charolette Smith)


Our goal is to have a medium sized cow with good milk production and the correct Brahman Breed character, having one calf per year, easy fleshing, longevity, maternal ability, and inherent traits. To have a medium sized bull with good fertility, excellent libido, good testicular development, good hump, Brahman Breed character, easy fleshing longevity and inherent traits. We measure all calves at birth, weaning and yearling. When they are in the field, we measure them every three months and monitor their weight gain to reach our weight objective, if the animal comes in underweight, we remove them from the herd and send them off to commercial farms.

As well as other anomalies that are not within their inherent traits on the negative side, these animals would also be sent off to commercial farms. Heifers that do not weigh 350 Kilograms when they reach reproductive age will also be sent off to commercial farms and any bull of breeding age which does not have good semen quality will be sent off to commercial farms. Cows that do not have good milk production or good maternal ability will also be sent off to commercial farms.

Any cow that does not reproduce every 14 months, or cattle that do not keep a minimal weight of 200 Kilos for females and 220 Kilos for bulls at weaning age will also be sent off to commercial farms. We have very high standards for performance, as mentioned above. A very important part of performance is what the rancher has in his/her mind, we can look at an animal and see small issues that do not meet our expectations, such as color, correct feet and legs and a variety of other issues, in the end it is in the eye of the rancher.

One of the things that we have learned is that the information that we can gather from computers offers us a great value but never could compete against the eye and knowledge of the rancher. In conclusion, the computer can help us finding the best performances, but in the end, the eye of the rancher is very important to obtain the goals we have set. After 20 years of records in our Brahman breed, we can see that year after year we are reaching the ideal animal and without the performance record and the ranchers experience this would be impossible.

I can see an excellent future for the next generation of breeders. Thanks to the 20 years of existing records from our ranch along with the records provided to us from ABBA we can see which bloodlines and animals are doing well, we know that the American Brahman Breeders association is a trustworthy organization that provides the best data for all American Brahman Breeders. We can manage and breed the best registered Brahman Stock, however we need to focus on keeping precise and accurate data, if there is an error in data collection this creates the inability to make the right decision for your herd.

By maintaining precise data and keeping a solid eye on your herd this will ultimately improve the herds performance. The most important traits for our ranch are birth weight, milk production, fertility, weaning and yearling weight. These traits are listed in order as we see it. The evaluation that we conduct after weaning shows us if we are at our objective, if there is a problem with weight, milk production, fertility, etc. Then we will be able to improve on that by changing some genetics, we would be able to use the performance records of other bulls to improve the below average traits that we find.

In the past JDH Gregory Manso 385/7, JDH Remington Manso 784/2, JDH Atari Manso 601/1, JDH Mr Elliott Manso 761/2, Mr V8 202/3, JDH Datapack Manso 563/5, JDH Madison De Manso 737/4 and JDH Coronel Manso 38/8 were the best blood lines for performance at that time, as they produced larger animals with thicker bone mass. At the moment JDH Mr Woodman Manso 578/6, JDH Woodson De Manso 206/7, JDH Mr Amos Manso 568/6, JDH Atlas Manso 328/3,JDH Beckton De Manso 490/7, JDH Sir Lawford Manso 616/6, JDH Sir Corona Manso 369/7, JDH Massai Manso 608/6, Mr H Maddox Manso 684 and BRC Dutton 376/8, as they produce mid-size animals with greater muscle mass, these animals are also more efficient, as they can produce more with consuming less feed.

We continue to search for a stronger bloodline in the Brahman Breed that can better adapt to the harsher climate that we are currently facing due to climate change. As we continue to face more challenges due to global climate change, we must continue to look for the most suitable blood line that can live in a drier and harsher environment. Continue to weed out the less productive animals in order to build a stronger herd while raising the minimum standards of what we currently use. Birth weight, milk production, weaning weight, yearling weight, fertility and easy fleshing are most important factors in increasing the efficiency of your herd, with birth weight, fertility and milk production the easiest to manage.

I would like for ABBA to help us to improve our database in Mexico and other countries, this would enable us to compare the cattle from country to country, showing which cattle are more suited for different locations. We measure success by monitoring the numbers from our records with the objective of improving the number such as birth weight, weaning weight, milk production, etc, year by year. And also, it is very important to keep your eyes on the herd and make certain this is the herd from your mind. We use a computer program and a field evaluation to gather data and make decisions. We gather data on every animal on the ranch. We gather data at birth at weaning age, milk production, etc. but in the end, we constantly gather data, this is our formula for success. As we have had great results, we find our methods very good. However, our eyes are always open to improving our methods. For example, we are currently looking into the use of genomics with our entire herd. (Enrique Sanchez)


We decided to make carcass performance the focus of our program when we were invited to become part of a direct-to-consumer beef program back in 2008. The individuals involved saw the amount of money that was being left on the table, as the cattle moved from weaning up to retail sales. The main focus of the group was to produce and sell a product that was all natural and guaranteed tender. I was charged with developing the Brahman part of the program, as the program needed the heat tolerance, insect resistance, and high bred vigor.

We started doing genetic testing, with the company that is now Neogene. It was interesting and disappointing at the same time. We had low numbers for most of the carcass traits, but very good numbers for feed conversion (RFI), heifer pregnancy, and docility. The next step was to try to find cattle that had the carcass traits we needed. We started to look at sale catalogs, EPD’s, along with the Brahman association bull and steer contest results. At first the improvements were small, as least until we were able to add a bull, CRR Mr. Sugar 142 and develop his son Mr. Tojo Samson 123.

The DNA result showed that we had the highest markers for tenderness that were known. When we started breeding these two herd sires, our best results were seen. We tested all of the calves keeping the animals that were seven out of the possible ten score for tenderness. Luckily, we were aware of the dangers of single trait selection and did not keep any animals that would produce problems later on (disposition, bad bags, fertility, etc.)

There was no problem with our minimum tenderness scores, we sold a lot of really good cattle because they scored less than seven on the tenderness markers. After a major herd improvement of tenderness, we decided to use the same program for marbling/IMF, but instead of using the DNA marker approach, we are using ultrasound. Today’s breeders are really lucky, because there are tools readily available to gather data. Ultrasound for carcass traits is number one, in my opinion, because it tells you what the animal is.

When it comes to tenderness, I definitely think a marker based genetic test (Neogen/Zoetis) is very effective. Another tool, that may be the most important, is record keeping. We use Cattle Max, as it allows us to input all the data we collect, for easy access to information when making decisions. We have participated in both the Bull Contest/Data Collection program, and the Ear Program.

Our first year we had the highest scoring steer in the Ear Contest, with a CCR Mr. Sugar 142 son. On our second try, we won the highest scoring steer, sire and breeder awards, with a set of steers out of TS Mr. Tojo Sampson 123. Year before last we entered five steers into the Ear data collection program, and ended up with 80% choice using steers by TS Mr. Tojo Sampson 123. We currently have three bulls in the Bull Contest/Data Collection Program.

Winning is always a goal, but the main reason we participate is because we can verify that we aren’t using the wrong cattle. Using cattle that don’t have the carcass traits we are after could have a negative effect for years to come. The best advice I can give someone, is measure the traits you are after, and then cut the bottom out. (Todd Schindler)


Our performance breeding goal is to continue to maintain lower birthweight bulls and higher weaning and yearling weights, along with trying to improve average daily gains on progeny and higher IMF and REA numbers. We are active in the ABBA Bull Gain Test and the ABBA Steer Test, along with consistently maintaining carcass data on our steers that we feed out for our farm to table beef program. A great deal of emphasis is placed on performance in our program. We believe performance is the future to advance the Brahman breed. We would like to keep pushing forward for our bulls to be trait leaders, not only in carcass data, but also in eye appeal. Selecting bulls based on carcass value has helped us increase the marbling and tenderness of our Brahman beef, along with helping us achieve higher daily gains requiring less feed input in our calves and less days on feed.

We believe that all breeders should be trying to obtain better carcass data because it is the future. If we do not place more emphasis on carcass we will fall further behind in the broad world of cattle breeds. It is the utmost importance we place more emphasis on this or we will be stuck not being able to sell Brahman bulls any longer and our steers will continue to be docked not only at the sale barns but at the packing houses as well. Hard choices are never easy when it comes to culling some of what you think is your best cattle.

The hard truth is that we are constantly having to make hard choices on either bulls and or mating’s because it is the right thing to do in the long run. We can never forget to have eye appeal in our cattle along with breed character. At the same time, we need to make those hard choices to really make large improvements. We have really been looking at our average daily gains to keep the cattle who are easier to maintain and grow faster and finish out quicker in the feedlot. The line that has helped us the most when it comes to carcass, and we have always had great bulls and our steers tend to gain better from is LMC Polled Sambo 45/0. He is a moderate big-muscled bull and his calves have always been in the top of the bull gain test. We have three sons that we use almost every breeding season ECC El Caporal 301, ECC Polled Chief 719 and 4F Polled Iceman 3/6 who are continuing his legacy and have already shown they can be number improvers in their own right.

Data collection is key on making decisions on our herd. We look greatly on which bulls are doing the best job for us as an overall package and use them as we need. We have made hard decisions on cutting a bull if they do not at least maintain our numbers and really improve them in one way or another. Data collection is key to increasing the efficiency of a herd. You can’t cheat numbers and the hard truth will be right in front of you, it is up to you to make the hard choices. Utilization of EPD numbers from a breeder that collects good and consistent data is the easiest thing you can do when it comes to making breeding decisions in either your herd bull purchases which is half the equation in your breeding program or the semen you will use for either AI or embryo transfers.

We would like to see the ABBA place more emphasis on participating in the bull gain test as well as the steer gain test we greatly need to revive. The information from a true and fair test is of the utmost importance. Along with that we need to publish and show the data we have collected to our breeders and show them our short comings and our improvements as well. We also believe we need to have a reward system in place to the Register of Renown for the bulls and cows that make improvements and perform well so we have a reason to participate and encourage participation.

We measure our success by the small improvements we make every year to our herd. Rome was not built in a day, and cattle especially are a lifelong endeavor. We strive for perfection but only settle for greatness that we try and achieve for ourselves and the betterment of the breed as best we can. The first tool we use to gather data is a birthweight measuring tape that all breeders should carry with them in their calving bag. The second and probably the most important is a good set of scales.

We are always trying to measure as much as we can starting out with birthweights. It is important to participate in the bull and steer gain tests as well. Lastly on our farm to table beef we collect grades and look at the sires to the calves to greater understand which ones are doing a better job. Using scales and a birthweight tape is only as good as the person collecting the data. We must be honest so we can get a true and fair assessment on our future breeding decisions.

We gather data on almost all our calves and cattle as best we can. We also could do more it is just making the eff ort and having the time to do so is always a challenge. (Mike England)

CE CATTLE CO. GOLIAD, TX As a commercial rancher and a Registered Brahman Breeder there are things in our herd that we consider the most important in what we consider performance! With that being said we don’t do carcass data or scan cattle for marbling, or go off of EPD’s that are not factual because of the false information submitted. Instead, we concentrate more in productivity, fertility, soundness, birthweight, and weaning weight. If a heifer cannot produce a calf by the age of 32-36 months she is culled period! If a bull cannot breed a cow in the pasture on his own we cull him!

Cattle have to be sound and able to travel in the pastures as well! We also show Registered Brahman heifers and bulls as well as raise show steers and show, but no matter how good they are, if they are not sound they will not go to be a show animal, they will be culled!

Soundness is a big deal to us whether it be a Registered Brahman, a Show steer, or a commercial replacement heifer we strive to produce sound functional cattle that we can be proud of. Birthweights are another big cull factor for us. Most of our pastures are brush and our time is limited with as much as we have going so we do not want to have to worry about a set of cows that may have calving issues because of birthweights.

With us using bulls with average birthweights with no calving issues we want to see above average weaning weights. We are really a commercial ranch so most of our cattle are sold by the pound so high weaning weights are important to us meaning more revenue for the ranch with lower input! We understand that what we consider performance and what is important to us may not be to the next and that’s ok. We will continue to strive to produce fertile, sound, and functional cattle that will compete in a show ring or live and be profi table in the pasture! (Chad Eaton)


We want our cattle to breed, calve and wean with no problems. We get birth weights, weaning weights, yearling weights, and scan data on all our calves. Performance is the driving factor in how we breed our cattle. We look at structure and phenotype also, but we want them to be trouble free and by using performance data we have been able to improve in that area. If we as a breed don’t put more emphasis on making our cattle perform we are risking becoming a novelty breed in the cattle industry.

We are a maternal breed but the emphasis on size has hurt our fertility and calving ease. We should also work on our carcass performance. We have found that our easy doing cattle are also ones that have ability to marble. The cattle need to breed, have calves with no problems and calves that get up and nurse, then do it again. We measure all of them. (Steve Wilkins)


Butler Farms is dedicated to harnessing the exceptional performance qualities of Brahman cattle. Our successful participation in the ABBA steer and bull performance tests, as well as the ST all breeds performance test, has enabled us to identify the top-performing genetics within our herd. Our primary objective revolves around optimizing efficiency and feed conversion in our herd. We aim to prioritize cattle that exhibit superior breeding, calving, and breeding back capabilities while requiring minimal input.

At Butler Farms, we place signifi cant emphasis on Functional Efficiency, recognizing its paramount importance for breeders seeking profitability in ranching operations. In recent years, the beef industry has undergone a significant shift towards a data-driven paradigm. The utilization of DNA profiles and ultrasound data has taken center stage. Although the Brahman breed has been relatively slow to adapt to these changes, it is now endeavoring to align with the mainstream beef industry by implementing appropriate systems. Butler Farms remains committed to exploring genetics that align with industry demands and fortifying our herd’s performance.

Adding Brahman genetics to a cow herd can bring many performance advantages in terms of feed efficiency, carcass and meat quality, and average daily gains. Here are some of the key benefits: Feed Efficiency – Brahman genetics can improve feed efficiency in cow herds, meaning that cattle can convert feed into weight gain more efficiently. This results in lower feed costs and increased profitability for cattle ranchers; Carcass and Meat Quality – Brahman genetics can also improve carcass and meat quality. Brahman cattle can improve the tenderness and flavor of the meat.

Additionally, Brahman-influenced beef has been shown to have higher levels of monounsaturated fatty acids and lower levels of saturated fatty acids, which can improve its nutritional profile; Average Daily Gains – Adding Brahman genetics to a cow herd can also improve average daily gains. Brahman cattle are known for their fast growth rates and ability to put on weight quickly, which can result in higher daily weight gains; Heat Tolerance – Brahman genetics can also improve heat tolerance in cow herds. Brahman cattle have loose skin and sweat glands that allow them to regulate their body temperature more eff ectively, making them well-suited for hot and humid environments. This can improve overall herd health and productivity in areas with high temperatures. Overall, adding Brahman genetics to a cow herd can bring many performance advantages, including improved feed efficiency, carcass and meat quality, average daily gains, and heat tolerance. These benefits can lead to increased profitability and productivity for cattle ranchers. (Rick Butler)


Since the beginning of our cattle ranching at Las Huastecas we had clear objectives of producing cattle that win and perform in the pasture. We implement management programs such as early weaning to reduce the number of days a cow is open, we supplement the calves if necessary and are always evaluating the gain in the calves. We analyze the meat produced in relation to the cost of supplementation. We have invested in facilities, equipment and training of our staff in such a way that the stress caused in cattle is reduced to a minimum, since it is directly related to weight gains.

We keep a careful eye on the health maintenance of the cattle, as those are also factors that we consider to be of the utmost importance in order to obtain better performance and efficiency in our livestock. In 2020 we began to carry out DNA tests on our entire red Brahman herd in order to identify the superior breeders, donors and genetic lines for improvement and performance in the next generation.

We maintain a historical and reliable database of our entire herd, both commercial and registered cattle, with a specialized livestock software. We use digital scales and have also found that the implementation of unique electronic identification per animal, through a special stick reader, saves us time and cost in the information gathering process while it reduces the chance of errors.

We are proud to be Brahman breeders and encourage other breeders to continue their pursuit of breeding the best Brahman cattle for the future generations. (Primo Castillo)


If you were to ask a Brahman breeder about the importance of performance, many of them would say something along the lines that the Brahman breed is a beef breed, and that we need to focus on producing the most amount of beef per acre. Or they may say they have been ultrasound scanning animals, and they only keep animals that scan above a certain %. Or that collecting data is important so you can identify the outliers that push the boundaries.

Some may say they utilize EPDs, and only use bulls that are in the top 5% of the breed for marbling or a certain trait. However, if a commercial cattleman applied a practical culling management program to any of these “performance cattle” the vast majority would be culled within a few years. And from my experience, registered Brahman cattle bred for profi tability could not be found, they had to be created. I have been living and breathing Brahman cattle for 25 years under a performance oriented breeding program.

There is no doubt that breeding Brahman cattle is in a way an art, but breeding profi table genetics requires gathering data, CORRECTLY understanding the data, and applying this knowledge to your breeding decisions. First of all, just because a breeder collects data does not mean their program is performance focused. I can time how fast I run a mile on a track, but by no means does that then make me an Olympic sprinter.

And by no means can you use the terms performance cattle in exchange with profitable cattle. Many breeders say they know that single trait selection is bad. Most breeders would apply this terminology to phenotypic traits, but the same is true for performance traits. An animal that is in the top 5% for WW or YW in reality is a very non-profitable animal and the vast majority of the time, it should be hauled to the sale barn. If an animal was truly in the top 5% of the breed for WW or YW, it would most likely have a frame size that is way too large and could have a dam that is milking too heavily to where she wouldn’t be able to maintain her body condition to breed back.

You also have to be cautious of animals that have backdated DOB’s. An animal that is in the top 5% for marbling would most likely have absolutely no power and likely be late maturing sexually and lack in other traits. For example, I sold the record breaking Brahman female for %IMF because she did not meet our extreme docility requirements. She was sold as an average heifer for an average price. Also, I have been asked many times about my opinion about how Brahman or Brahman cross steers get discounted heavily on the open market, even though Kallion has proven that Brahman cattle can marble and are easily capable of grading prime.

My immediate answer is that yes, Brahman cattle deserve the discount. A steer that grades choice compared to a steer that grades select, all other things the same, has a difference of over $150 per head in retail value. And the Brahman breed as a whole has no data to prove this stereotype differently. In fact, much of the data shows that this discount is validated. The most recent data I have of a Brahman steer test that is not from Kallion is from 2018, and a very prominent breeder that consigned the majority of the steers to the test (33 head), only had 9% grade choice, 76% select, and 15% standard. And when the American cattle industry on average grades choice or better over 70% of time, I cannot understand why someone can claim this prejudice is unvalidated.

The fact that steers out of Kallion have graded prime, is much like how NASA has sent men to the moon. Yes, humankind is capable of getting to the moon, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the population (99.99%) is capable of building a rocket and shuttle that can make it to the moon. An animal that is in the top 5% for lower BW would most likely have a terrible WW and YW. An animal that has a very high REA/100 ratio would have no depth of body phenotypically. This type of phenotype may look like it has a “long” body while on heavy feed, but in reality would have no “performance” as a cow on just pasture.

An exception to the rule of not breeding for extremes in cattle traits is that of temperament. Docility is a trait that to me has no direct negative effect. Some breeders may say that if an animal is too tame, then they do not take care of their calves as well. The temperament an animal has towards humans, and the overall motherability a female has are two different traits. If you purchased a female that was extremely docile and then later on the same female did not take care of their calf, odds are the animal you bought was originally a bottle calf.

And the reason it is so tame is that it was a bottle calf, and the reason it was a bottle calf is that it had a mother who did not want to take care of it. Some breeders say that the temperament of Brahmans all depends on how you raise them. Yes, you can basically brainwash animals into acting more docile by halter breaking them, or by spending many hours of labor handling them. But, the majority of cattlemen who rely on raising cattle for a living can not afford to spend the time or money to brainwash their calves.

I do know for a fact that docility is very heritable. When we first got into the business, less than 5% of the calves we raised received a temperament score of 1 out of 5 (1 being tame and 5 wanting to kill you.) After 20 years of collecting data and applying this knowledge to our breeding decisions, 95% of Kallion calves born today receive a score of 1 the day of weaning. I have heard countless testimonies about how naturally docile calves were out of Kallion genetics without any handling whether it be out of registered Brahman cattle, commercial Brahman cattle, or in a F1 production operation.

If you were to apply the following program to a registered Brahman operation and cull them unless they wean a healthy calf every 12 months; have no feet issue or udder issues; their calves do not need nursing assistance; they are not aggressive in the working pens, and thrive while only receiving the nutrition provided at a standard commercial cattle operation – the vast majority of registered Brahman cattle would be culled. When I took over the Kallion breeding program in 2010, which for over 10 years had already been breeding for profit genetics,I applied these measures. Out of 900+ head, only 3% of these females remained in the herd after 4 years. And all of the 900+ head were descendants out of the breeds’ most popular bloodlines at the time. Only daughters out of the females that met these requirements were looked at as prospective replacement females for our program.

Someone newer to the cattle industry would most likely assume that registered cattle operations have stricter breeding programs compared to commercial operations. But in reality, the vast majority of the time it is quite the opposite. But to me the explanation why breeders might not cull hard is quite simple, and that is that many brahman cattle are sold for much higher than their true market value. Breeding stock should be incoming producing assets, and a huge portion of the breed is nothing more than a liability.

If you purchased a female for $5000+, and two years later her bag blew out would you haul her to the auction where you know she would only bring $750? Or if you paid that much for a female and she ended up only producing a calf every 18 months would you take the hit for over $4000 or wait a few more years? Or if you paid that much for a female and she gave you a calf that had no idea how to nurse, would you take the hit? And if by chance this female which you paid $5000+ actually gives you a calf every year and maintains a good bag, but for some reason every calf she produces is wild as hell, would you take the hit? Odds are that no, you wouldn’t take the hit until you regain your initial investment, and therefore these genetics get propagated. And for these actual reasons is why many new breeders of registered Brahman give up around 3 years of being in the business.

I by no means can judge. I was actually put into a diff erent situation. I was the breeder and manager for six years of Kallion Farms and had the freedom to apply the program I knew was needed for the Brahman breed to survive in the states. Seven years ago the partnership that owned Kallion Farms dispersed, and I purchased 50 registered Kallion Brahman females and the 12 herd sires that had been created under the new program. I did not have to come up with the original investment of buying cattle that most people assumed were bred for profit, but in reality were cattle bred with no profitability traits.

My original investment that I came up with was in cattle created by a genetically profi table breeding program. To this day, we have continued my intensive culling program and have been building the herd based on profi table genetics. I appreciate progressive approaches to any venture, but the “art” of breeding profi table cattle is in fact a very ironic strategy. The radical thing about a profitable breeding program is that it is avoiding utilizing cattle that are “number 1” in any trait.

The “art” of breeding profi table cattle is striving to produce cattle that excel overall. Even though performance breeding for profit may sound intimidating, the end result is priceless. A Brahman female that raises a beautiful calf every year, never gets hoof trimmed, never sees the squeeze chute besides her normal vaccinations, looks good even in a drought, and at most puts her head on your shoulder to get scratched if you have your back to her…. is indeed priceless. (Grant Vassberg)