by William A. Graham
The Graham registered angus herd has been maintained at its present location near Albany, Ga. for over 50 years. Founded in south florida in 1947 to provide bulls for our growing commercial herd in south florida; it was moved to Georgia in 1955.
We were disatisfied with the angus bulls that we were getting to breed our commercial herd. Florida was the dumping ground for bulls from the north and west. They were short, compact, and didn't grow well. I happened to read a magazine article that promoted weighing and measuring the growth in cattle. Prior to that time beef cattle were selected on looks, which had very little to do with traits of economic importance.
As long time dairy farmers we were used to weighing milk and using that information to select and cull or dairy herd.
So in 1958 we began to weigh our calves and to use that information to cull our herd. In 1960 we purchased two bulls from Wye Plantation and several bulls and heifers from breeders in Oklahoma who were using performance information to develop their herds. Big Elban of Moore was a major addition at that time.
This changed our whole herd and calf weights and yearling weights began to rise rapidly. Clarence Burch, president of PRI (Performance Registry International), invited me to serve on the PRI board; which I did for several years and was where I met and learned from progressive breeders of many breeds.
As we wanted to produce bulls for our commercial herds we have run our herd as we think a progressive commerical herd shoud be run. Our cows graze on Bahia and Bermuda grass pastures in the heat and humidity of southwest Georgia. In the winter they are given a small grain supplement and some hay consisting of pasture clippings.
We run two herds. a Fall herd calving in September and October and a Winter herd calving in January and February. A bull is exposed to 34 cows on pasture twice a year. If he doesn't settle a satisfactory percentage of his cows he is sent to the stockyard. If the bull's calves weights aren't adequate he is culled.
We ultrasound all yearlings and use that information to aid in selecting bulls to use as herd sires.
For many years the Graham herd was a closed herd using only Graham bulls. In 1995 we began to breed a few cows artificially to selected highly proven sires to carefully introduce beneficial genes. The offspring of these breedings have to perform under our severe southwest Georgia conditions. If they do not they are culled. Cattle are never kept just because they were sired by a highly promoted sire. They are required to perform in our environment.
The Graham herd is now a herd with excellent EPDs and adapted to their location. The cattle have many years of testing in a practical cow operation in southwest Georgia. They will perform in our Southern environment.