Tom Lasater started to develop the Beefmaster in America in the 1940’s and the United States Department of Agriculture accepted it as a breed in 1954. The origin of the breed, however dated back to the beginning of the 1900's when Mr. Edward C. Lasater, a prominent cattleman, of the Falfurrias in southern Texas, and the father of Tom, at that time kept a large commercial herd of 20 000 Herefords and Shorthorns on 162 000 hectares of land. He also had a Hereford stud where he concentrated on breeding for pigment around the eyes. The cows were good milk producers, which was an important characteristic in the herd. He saw its value in meat production.
In 1908, Lasater Sr. used the first Brahman bulls on his Herefords and Shorthorns. Although he preferred Gir bulls, he also used Nellorre and Guzarath bulls. The Shorthorns were of Durham origin. He returned the best Hereford-Brahman and Brahman-Shorthorn heifers to the herd and again used Brahman bulls. A predominantly Brahman herd was therefore developed.
When he died in 1930, Lasater Jr. took over the farming management. The herd consisted of approximately 350 cows and a few Brahman bulls, as well as about 150 registered Hereford cows and a few registered Hereford bulls. Later, he also purchased a few registered Shorthorn bulls. The Beefmaster was thus created by an intensive program of crossbreeding between:
The best crossbred animals were selected for further breeding, using the Six Essentials. The descendants of the above were bred in a three way cross, to different bulls (multiple sire), maintaining a closed herd. This led to a new cattle breed known as the Beefmaster. From the outset, selection was based on economically important traits only.
Some South African Breeders realized the potential of the breed and imported semen and cattle into South Africa and it developed into a cattle breed to be reckoned with. The Beefmaster Cattle Breeders Society celebrates 24 years since it was accepted as a breed in South Africa in 1987. With the growth during recent years, the future of the breed looks bright and the Breeders’ Society has great expectations, especially with regard to the production characteristics of the breed.
Where lies the crux of a successful cattle-farming enterprise? In the salable product, of course. Everyone knows that fertility is the most important factor, but the weight of the calf crop determines the amount of gross income.
The Beefmaster boasts a weaning weight ratio of just over 47%. This makes the breed most popular in a weaner production system, because a larger number of salable weaners (in kilograms) are produced with the same number of cows. If calculated with a large number of cows over few years, the figures get impressive. Replacement heifers carry the trademarks of the breed and upgrading a commercial herd by using Beefmaster bulls is a profitable endeavor. These traits includes fertility, small calves at birth (something Beefmasters are known for) a shorter interval before re-conception, early maturity, hardiness, longevity and excellent growth (weaning weight).
By using Beefmaster bulls, farmers can replace an existing herd over time with the breed that the Breeders Society believes has become one of the dam line breeds in the country.
The South African Beefmaster is handmade by selection for the tough Southern African conditions. Each animal is the product of dedicated breeder's selection and performance testing, with emphasis on functional efficiency. It is still good practice to buy bulls from a breeder in one's own environment in order to avoid adaption difficulties.
At this year's Nampo Harvest Day outside Bothaville the Breeders Society was surprised by the spontaneous way in which farmers talked of the success that they achieved by putting Beefmaster bulls to their commercial cows.
Farmers talked about their first calf crop, the excellent replacement heifers, increased weaning weight of the entire calf crop, the affordability of the bulls and the docile calves.
Second and third crosses with Beefmaster bulls resulted in even better weaning weight. Farmers, who used to cross back and forth with different breeds, said that they have found the solution. They are now using only Beefmaster bulls and they can see the progress made in their herds.
The past two years the Society’s breeders experienced an unprecedented demand for good bulls. Informed and serious cattlemen knows what they are looking for and finds it in Beefmaster. For peace of mind of the bull buyer, the trademark of an inspected and approved Beefmaster bull is the brand (Rocking B) behind the right shoulder.