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Voices From The Past - Past Column Number 4

There is no question that there have been many changes in the cattle industry in the last number of years.  Despite those changes, some of the concerns and problems we face today are quite similar to those that the industry faced years ago.

On this page, we intend to reprint helpful articles from years past.  Even though they were written many years ago, we feel that the information contained in them is timeless.  Please feel free to contact us for a discussion on these topics at any time.

The Future Of Polled Shorthorns

Reprinted from The Shorthorn World, August 15th 1967

Three of the nation’s leading Polled Shorthorn breeders take a look at the industry and see what the breed can accomplish in the future.  They agree that their breed has every reason to grow and prosper in the future.  But, they point out, expansion won’t come by sitting and waiting.  It will come only after a lot of hard work.

By Jerry Clodfelter, Greencastle, Indiana

Today we as Polled breeders stand with heads high.  We are proud of our great heritage and thankful to those far-sighted people whose straight, sound thinking, integrity, honesty, hard work and ability to overcome disappointments have put us where we are today.

Today we are told by those of unbiased opinions, from other segments of the beef business and from representatives of the other breeds, that Polled Shorthorns have made the most rapid improvements over the last decade.  And vast improvement has been made everywhere.  We believe this observation and are very jubilant about it.

But today we must put up the warning flag.  Complacency can come with plaudits and complacency is a bad disease in any breed.

As a breed we have a lot of good cattle and a lot of good people.  We are judged by what we offer the cattle producing world and not just alone by a few tops at the great shows.  So, maybe we had better be concerned with overall quality in our herds.  We are no worse than the admirer of any other breed, but all of us have a tendency to point to the champion that someone else has and say, “Look how well we are doing”.

We must recognize and admit any faults that exist in our own cattle and launch a concentrated effort to correct them.  We must look over our own back fence and honestly analyze our own cattle.  No herd is producing calves of good enough average quality, or all calves would look alike.  Let’s do a little worrying about that.

An all out effort on the part of all of us is the answer.  Only through a combined effort can we continue to raise the quality of all Polled Shorthorns.  If we do this, everyone who sees a Polled Shorthorn anywhere can not help but be filled with a desire to own some of these good-doing cattle.

We have the natural advantages of the Polled feature, good dispositions, and basic soundness.  Yes, and we have the finest group of good people as breeders; possessed with straight thinking, sound judgement and good reputations.

How do we raise the average quality of the breed?  In my humble opinion, we do it by raising the average quality in our own herd - every one of us.  It will not only immediately make our own herd more profitable, but it will make the breed more popular.  The more demand there is for the breed, the more demand there is for each one of us.

Let us not sacrifice size, bone and substance in an effort to breed hornless cattle.  These are characteristics for which the Shorthorn breed is noted.  We not only want to hold but also improve these characteristics.

Let’s not sacrifice depth and width of bodies.  Our cattle must have capacity for the great intake of roughages necessary for profitable beef production.

Let’s not be satisfied with weak or plain heads.  Weak heads are a sign of weak feeding ability and a definite lack of prepotency.  These facts make good heads very important.

Let us not be satisfied with bad feet and legs.  This is the foundation upon which a beef animal is built and makes its living and ours.

Let’s not forget that we must have an attractive animal.  Let’s keep balance.  People buy something that looks good to them.

I hope you don’t read this thinking I am anybody’s example or doing the kind of job for our breed that I should be doing.  This is written in an effort to get us all thinking, to get us to recognize our shortcomings and to get a concentrated effort to do something and not ever to wither up in complacency.

Today Polled Shorthorns are in the best position in their history.  Not only are winners the best we’ve ever had, but there are a great many more top cattle - both bulls and females.  Competition is at its keenest and particularly noticeable is the increased depth in most of the classes.  Probably the most important facts to check in Polled Shorthorns today, are the great number of new breeders, the great demand for good cattle as evidenced by the larger crowds at sales and shows and the constant upsurge in prices.  These facts are accompanied by or caused by sound business practices, the high integrity of the breeders and prices that are profitable to both the seller and the buyer.

I don’t know what the future holds for us and our breed.  It all depends on what we as breeders do.  It depends on what we breed, advertise and how we present our cattle and sell them.

Personally, I have enough faith in the good people who breed these good cattle - progressive people who have a progressive breed - that I am gambling all my assets on the futre of the Polled Shorthorns being brighter, more profitable and even more enjoyable.

By Harold Thieman, Concordia, Missouri

Polled Shorthorns as a breed are on the threshold of the greatest advancement of any breed of beef cattle on the face of the earth “if,”
(1) they are the right kind and
(2) they are properly promoted.

Now let’s get to the point of the right kind.  They must be structurally sound and they must have size and have inherited a top growth factor.  They must have good feet and legs, length from the hip to the pin bones, well-sprung ribs, ample length of neck.  We need a correct head, not long and pinched, nor the other too wide and too short extreme.  The jaw must be right for a long life of grazing.  There shall be symmetry and smoothness with overall balance.  Natural fleshing is also tremendously important.  Beware of the poorly fleshed beast that has been in good hands.  There are some cattle that just won’t come on.  They must be able to travel in a graceful fashion with little effort and in a correct and pleasing manner.  They must have inherited and possess a natural good temperament.  In the years to come , they must be polled.

The second part of the discussion of the Polled business today just as vital as the first part.  The best product of any kind will not sell unless it is promoted.  Why do we purchase brand name products that many times are higher priced than other products just as good?  Simply because of promotion.  To promote takes money.  Did you know that in one bull testing station Shorthorns out-gained Herefords and were way ahead of Angus?  There were about 140 bulls involved and it took place in predominantly Hereford country.  Possibly but did you know the reason Shorthorns were first was because of the influence of Polled Shorthorn bulls?  Without this influence, Shorthorns would be second to Hereford.  Do you know that the top selling bull in Hereford country was a Polled Shorthorn?  The beef cattle world needs to know every story of this kind, so the message comes through loud and clear.

I would propose as a starter that the transfer fee on every Polled Shorthorn be increased several dollars.  This extra money would be used strictly for Polled Shorthorn promotion.  If there are 10,000 Polled transfers in one year, a $2 increase would provide a $20,000 advertising and promotion campaign - $3 would bring in $30,000.  I firmly believe that a $2,000 publicity and advertising campaign in each of 15 publications would raise the price of the average Polled Shorthorn sold $50 a head.  Do you believe in a 20 to 1 bet?  Try this one, you have very little to lose.  Who knows, it might be the spring board to place the Polled Shorthorn breed, that all of us believe in, right in the spotlight as the ultimate in beef cattle production.

This is our business.  We have one life to live and time goes by fast.  Let’s be proud of our cattle and our efforts and let’s adopt a pay-off policy.  Let’s do everything possible to constantly improve our product and promote.

By Bob Gordon, Souris, Manitoba

The interest in and the demand for Polled Shorthorns is flourishing all over America.  The main reason being the determination of Polled Shorthorn breeders everywhere to breed a better beef animal.

Today in Western Canada many of the well known herds are now breeding all or some Polled Shorthorns.

As nearly as I can find out, the first Polled Shorthorn to come to the province of Manitoba and possibly the first to Canada was bought by Herb Hicks of Souris in 1932 from Bert Hanson of Minnesota.  From then on there have been quite a few herds all over Canada, that have made a worthwhile contribution to the breeding of Polled Shorthorns.  Although many of these herds made a worthwhile contribution while breeding Polled Shorthorns, a great many of them did not breed them for any length of time.  Because of the demand for their cattle, their herds were usually dispersed for the profit in them and so we did not have many herds with the continuous, sound, breeding program required to build a breed.  About 1962 the demand was falling off for Shorthorns in Western Canada.  I feel this came about for two reasons.  First the cattle lacked size required by the commercial operator and second, Polled Herefords had made such strides in improvement and were doing a good promotional job.  It looked to me that in order for us to obtain and maintain and possibly build a market for our Shorthorn cattle we must get them big and we must get them Polled.

I hesitate to, but can’t help but relate to our own operation.  If we wanted to get the type of a Shorthorn animal that would win the respect of commercial men, where would we look?  We made attempts at buying some young Polled Shorthorn, prospective sires, but none filled our requirements.  After traveling a good deal in search of this animal, we happened to go to the Polled Congress in Omaha, and here we found what we felt was a bull, with even more size and character in his conformation than we felt it was possible to obtain.  This bull was T.P.S. Coronet Leader 21st x, that we were fortunate to be able to obtain.  Not only has he been admired by most purebred breeders but many commercial producers, after they saw him, regained confidence that the type of an animal that they wished to breed could once again be found in the Shorthorn breed.

His progeny have made a great record against all breeds on performance testing.  They demonstrated that they have the ability to produce pounds of beef equal to any other breed and they are the type of animal appealing to the eye.  Today many of his sons are heading many of the better herds in Western Canada.

I relate this because it demonstrates that we could have dispersed from or dropped the breed that we knew and loved so well and tried to buy into progress made by far sighted men in another breed.  But, by realizing that we weren’t producing an animal appealing to the commercial operator and filling his demands, we felt we must breed what he requires in order to get his business.  We knew we must try and obtain it somewhere, or somehow, in our Shorthorn breed.

Today the promotional job by American Breeders Service, to whom we have leased Leader, has helped inform the commercial operators of the job Shorthorns can do.  Many now know of the record they have made on performance against all breeds, which proves that Shorthorns of the right kind can be their most profitable animal.  Bulls like this, being bred by men who have the practical man at heart, are helping to create an image of Shorthorn cattle appealing to all cattlemen and giving them a desire to raise them.

For progress in any breed, one must produce an animal that is presently in demand in cattlemen, continually bring the achievements of these cattle before the eyes of the public.  Then the breed is going to progress.  This is what Polled Shorthorn breeders today are trying to do.  Commercial cattlemen require a practical beef animal and there is positive proof that Polled Shorthorns can fill the bill.  Therefore, there is a great opportunity for those who wish to breed this type of animal in the Polled Shorthorn business.  And, if the records of this animal are brought before the eyes of the public, the demand will bring such great expansion within the breed, that we will need far more new breeders to produce Polled Shorthorns animals.

Today it gives me a great deal of satisfaction to see the number of enthusiastic, young, Polled Shorthorn breeders in Western Canada that have the determination to breed a practical beef animal required by the commercial man.  They are enthused about their breed and what it can do and are doing a great promotional job by bringing their achievements before the eyes of the public.  This is what is needed for breed progress in any breed.  They know their breed doesn’t need to take a back seat to any breed, if they keep alert to breed progress and the commercial cattleman’s requirements.  Supporting all-breed performance testing stations and achieving the great record like we have done in these last few years, will certainly help focus the commercial cattleman’s attention on Polled Shorthorns.

For example, at the Douglas Performance Testing Station 1966 Field Day and Sale, the four top selling bulls of all breeds were sired by Polled Shorthorn bulls, and let me say that was against some mighty fine cattle of other breeds.  These four bulls all went to commercial operators, which demonstrates their desire to obtain these good Polled Shorthorn bulls.  These bulls had all gained over three pounds a day while on test.

At the 1967 Douglas Performance Testing Station Sale, the top selling bull of all breeds was again a Polled Shorthorn.  Again the Polled Shorthorn bulls gained, on a whole, right along with the high gainers of the other breeds.  At the 1966 and 1967 Saskatoon Performance Testing Station, groups of bulls sired by Polled Shorthorn bulls were among the top 10 gainers of bulls of all breeds and once again they are competing against some of the best Hereford cattle in America today.  On the 1967 Saskatoon test, a group of Polled Shorthorn bulls were second high gaining group of all breeds.  One Polled Shorthorn bull was was second high gaining individual of all breeds.

At three of the four noted Western Canada bull sales in 1967, the top selling Shorthorn bull was a Polled Shorthorn.

These achievements are proof the Polled Shorthorn business is really flourishing today in Western Canada and has a future as great or greater than any other breed.  What’s more, the breed is in the hands of many aggressive producers, determined to make it the breed to be reckoned with in the days ahead.

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