My family has been raising commercial cattle for 4 generations. I detoured from ranching to get degrees in microbial genetics and medicine. After practicing surgery for 30 years, I returned to my roots and have dedicated the rest of my life to raising premium longhorns. I have spent hundreds of hours accumulating a data base of horn production numbers on cows and bulls (both ancestors and progeny) trying to use an evidence based approach to predict the optimum pedigree combinations. It statistically analyzes what animals are the real producers in the industry. The data base is helpful for horn but not the total package. We evaluate the animals in detail and try to strategically stack pedigrees from different bloodlines-- WS Jamakizm, Cowboy Tuff Chex , JP Rio Grande, Concealed Weapon and others to more predictably produce the total package. The DNA genome is vast and difficult to predict. There are 21,000 genes with over 3 billion nucleotides arranged in various combinations that determine physical characteristics. Quantitative traits like horn length are controlled by several genes plus the environment–so-called multi-factorial inheritance. All the breeder can do is increase his or her odds of producing a desired trait and try not to compromise others--conformation, milking and mothering ability, conformation, color and disposition. We like to buy 2 levels of longhorns-- elite and promising. The elite class has more proven production with many 90” TTT animals on both sides of the pedigree. Everybody wants these animals and we have to pay up to get them. In order to recoup our investment, we utilize embryo transfer to multiply the impact of these elite females in the herd. The promising class are well pedigreed, total package heifers and young cows bought at reasonable prices. We hope some of these animals with great horn potential outproduce themselves with progeny that will eventually enter the elite class. We are fortunate to have enough land to accommodate both populations from which all buyers in the longhorn industry can profit.
* Craig Perez of Arrowhead Cattle Company has volumes of measurements and photographs in his “Gallery of Horns.” Thank you Craig!