Having spent my youth as an FFA youngster working with cattle, dairymen and cattlemen, I jumped at the opportunity to buy land and get involved in the cattle business upon moving to the beautiful state of Oklahoma. To accomplish this, I negotiated the purchase of the B&L Ranch near Shawnee, Oklahoma as well as the B&L Angus cowherd from the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association Foundation.
While I had selected Limousin cattle for my first venture into the purebred seedstock business, I wisely changed to Angus cattle upon joining my friend and partner Jarold Callahan – a renown judging team coach at Oklahoma State University and a former Executive Vice President of the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association.
From this position, Express Ranches enterprises moved into high gear and is an active participant in every phase of the beef production process. We have enjoyed producing as many as 50,000 head of cattle per year and own an interest in the 30,000 head capacity Xcel Feed yard near Watonga, Oklahoma.
To complement expansion and operations, the cattle graze at the historic UU Bar Ranch located just outside of Cimarron, New Mexico. With 160,000 acres of high-altitude rangeland, a production unit of commercial cows and calves plus 4,000 to 5,000 yearlings have allowed the testing of Express genetics under semi-arid conditions (unlike many commercial competitors).
The genetics developed, tested and marketed by Express are designed to satisfy the needs of every step in the production chain. Carloads of bulls shown at the Denver Stock Show and the sale of junior project cattle that compete in every level of competition have led to an ongoing emphasis on phenotype and structural soundness in the Express breeding programs.
At the ripe age of 80, I can look back at Express Ranches as a wonderful journey spanning many years. We have been recognized by CattleFax as the largest processor of registered seedstock for nine consecutive years and represent the association member which registers more Angus cattle than any other in North America. Bonus: We so enjoyed being awarded the Roll of Victory Angus breeder of the year in the 2011-2012 show season that we have won that honor again every consecutive year since that proud announcement.
With this historical information as background, I thought it would be fun to share a few fun facts around black Angus cattle and why we love this tremendous breed –
The black Angus breed originated in Scotland in the mid-1800s
Producers are able to use 98% of the bodies of beef cattle, either for meat or other byproducts (including gelatin, film, baseball gloves, shampoo, cosmetics, and crayons)
The sports of baseball, football, soccer, volleyball, and basketball all depend on cattle products – cowhide is used to make these balls! (Although a football is commonly called a “pigskin”, it is actually made from cattle leather)
Beef cattle produce a lot of meat – one animal can provide enough ground beef for 1,500 quarter-pound hamburgers
The diet of beef cattle consists of grain and hay. Although they are heavier than dairy cattle, beef cattle are actually fed less because they do not have the high-energy needs of a milk-producing cow
Calving typically occurs in the spring after a 9-month gestation. The mama cow gives birth to one calf (twins are rare). Calves are generally kept with the mother until weaning age, which is 4-5 months
Black Angus beef cattle are popular with ranchers due to their ease of keep, large amount of meat produced and reasonably high tolerance for cold weather