T & T Cattle LLC
T & T Cattle raises and produces the majority of the beef that is marketed by Lost Wells Cattle Co. As such, they are focused on grass-based genetics that will fatten easily and be low maintenance while still being functional and adapted to the environment. These type of cattle are generally moderate in size and have the genetic predisposition to excel on low inputs (i.e. grass!).
It didn’t take long to find out the cattle industry is promoting the exact opposite through increased size and performance. The industry demanded that the guts be taken out of the cattle to increase dressing percentage. This produced large, high-maintenance cattle with no natural fleshing ability. These bigger, framier, pencil-gutted cattle can’t survive without high cost inputs. And truth be told, these larger cattle don’t produce calves in ratio to their increased size. The most productive cows we own are generally the more moderate ones.
To find predictable genetics, we first began looking at registered cattle. This enabled us to find quality cattle with known pedigrees. We found these type of genetics in a Red Angus base. Our herd consists of Red Angus, Black Angus, and limited SimAngus. To naturally assist with growth and carcass traits, we use hybrid vigor (cross-breeding) by adding a little bit of Simmental. Most of our cross-bred cattle are still 3/4 to 7/8 Red/Black Angus.
We put together our base herd from Beckton Red Angus in Sheridan, WY, and Buffalo Creek Red Angus near Buffalo, WY (now dispersed). After a few years of trying the commercial AI studs, we soon found that the genetics we were looking for were not available there. That led us on a quest that we could write a book about. The short version is that we did find genetics that fit our philosophy, and we incorporated them into our program. Of course, every eye is different, and there were things we tweaked and modified through selective breeding to achieve our goals.
Our cattle are low-input, not no-input. We provide a natural, trace-mineral salt as well as natural mineral. We limit our vaccines and don’t use pour-ons or dewormers. We use Apple Cider Vinegar for natural parasite control and improved immune system function, rather than drugs. We have had very little scour problems in our calves. If we need to doctor a calf, we first try natural methods with boluses of vitamins, minerals, and probiotics. This has almost always worked for us. If not, we are not opposed to using antibiotics as a last resort. If antibiotics are used, we have a system to record the animal and exclude them from our grassfed program. We are happy to share with you our complete mineral and supplement program.
We find that a natural supplement program provides for healthier cattle that can be ran in unpampered environments for 12 years or more. We have had some 15 year old cows look like 6 year olds. Imagine how much more efficient and cost effective your program could be if you could get 5 more years out of your cows. Another benefit is that we can run more cows per bull. We use one bull to cover 50+ cows with little to no open cows, and we intend to push this up to 80 or more. And our bulls can be ran to eight years and older, again, in unpampered environments. Of course, genetics plays a large role in performance, but if your cattle aren’t healthy, they won’t perform to their potential.
In addition to raising grassfed beef, we also provide seedstock for ourselves and anyone looking for grass-based genetics. Our seedstock must be functional. “Functional” is a huge buzzword these days, and the definition often depends on the producer. We summarize it down into a couple of key words: profitable, low-maintenance, and efficient.
Our cattle work for us, not the other way around. Our cattle have to make us money, not cost us, and they need to do it on their own. We demand a lot out of our cattle. We expect our cows to rebreed every year and we often pull the bulls after 60 days to put pressure on fertility. We don’t make excuses for our cattle. They must perform, or they get a free ride to town. We don’t have time to babysit our cows, and you shouldn’t have to either!
We are not in the business of trying to sell every male calf as a bull, or keep every heifer for a replacement. Our business is primarily grassfed beef, so the bulls and heifers that make the cut are few. We calve our cows and heifers together out in the pasture. We put our cattle to the test to ensure they calve easily, have good maternal instincts, are functional (i.e. good udders and feet) and are low-maintenance. If they can’t raise a calf on their own for us, how are they going to do it for you?
We don’t have calving barns, and I’m not sure I could find the calf pullers, even if I wanted to. Again, we invite you to come take a look. We have nothing to hide. We don’t trim feet or hair and we don’t overfeed our seedstock. There are many benefits to forage-raised seedstock including better fertility and increased longevity. Recent research shows the benefit of forage raised beef. Allan Nation, from the Stockman GrassFarmer, has an interesting article on the lower fertility of grain fattened bulls (link below).
We are not producing “extreme” cattle. Our cattle are well balanced in all traits, not just size. We don’t have dwarf cattle, nor do we raise elephants. The ideal size cow for us is a 4 frame, 1200 lb cow. We keep extensive production records on all our cattle, not just the registered ones. This helps us to track trends and provides genetic feedback on the bulls we are using.
We use Artificial Insemination (AI) on a limited basis to assist in improving our genetic base. However, we feel the natural process of mating cattle is the best. We don’t have any known genetic defect carriers in our herd and we do not use any known genetic defect carrier sires. We do use DNA testing as a tool for genetic prediction. However, we do not “breed by the numbers.” Cattle still have to be functional, be phenotypically correct, and perform accordingly. We do not get caught up in the EPD hype. We have found that when we breed for functional cattle, the numbers follow.