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  • Jeff M. Chambers

“There they are. Go look at’em.” Purebred Livestock Breeding

Updated: Jan 24, 2020

Dual Purpose Cattle, by Claude Hinman, was a book that, from an 8-year old's vantage, set high-up on a shelf in my Grandfather’s house along with several other books on farming and agriculture. It was an “old” book even then. As I recall none of the books were moved off the shelf much and I only saw my grandfather read the newspaper and business papers. But that dual-purpose term caught my eye . I asked Grandpa more than once what it meant. True to Scots-Irish form Grandpa, while pointing to the barnyard or a group of cows in the pasture, would say: “There they are. Go look at’em.”

As we started our own dual-purpose cattle adventure 20 years ago, I recalled this book and asked my Grandmother if it was still around. I don’t know that finding a buried treasure would have seemed much different then as shuffling through that box of books to find the still familiar, spring-green cover of Dual Purpose Cattle. Seeing this same book later in life it was clear that it had been well and respectfully worn and “used”. I read it through and through adding a little more wear to its pages. Since then I’ve found another copy and keep it on my bookshelf.

Grandson's Dexter

I would highly recommend the entire book to those in the dual-purpose cattle business and in purebred livestock breeding for the productive increase of good livestock. Hinman’s dedication in the book is as follows:

“Dedicated to… All breeders of dual-purpose cattle who, with the courage of their convictions, have developed a type of cattle best suited to general farm conditions. “

Grandson's Dexter Herd

One of the chapters, among many, that I return to now and again when the need to get back in tune with essentials is in order is Chapter 1 of Part Two: Purebred Livestock Breeding. It is a short chapter of only four pages but one that succinctly describes what is required to enjoy and excel in the world of purebred livestock breeding. The summary states; “The purebred livestock business is a lifetime job. It is not a job for one who expect quick rewards.”. Keeping those words in mind as you continue or begin your experience in the purebred livestock breeding business, I believe, will serve you, your herd, and the dual-purpose Dexter breed well.

I would like to share with you a small portion of this wonderful book. Enjoy.

Reprinted in full for educational purposes.

Dual Purpose Cattle - Part Two, Chapter 1 – Purebred Livestock Breeding

by Claude Hinman, 1953, Roberts Bros., Springfield, Missouri.

Purebred Livestock Breeding

Rewards. The purebred livestock business is both a vocation and an avocation. Those who are suited to it, who have what it takes, do better financially than do those handling ordinary or commercial livestock. As an avocation it is very rewarding to those appreciative of the intangible rewards it offers.

What is Required? All the following are required, and no possible arrangement can indicate their relative importance because each is essential. These are: imagination, idealism, artistic zeal, patience, love of animals, integrity, capital, capacity for study, plain guts.

Imagination is that quality which enables its fortunate possessor to “live as seeing the invisible.” It enables those who have it to visualize objectives not yet reached. Great progress has been made in livestock development. Perfection has not been achieved – probably it never will be – because, as successive goals are reached, new vistas are opened by the imagination of those who are the prophets of the future.

Idealism is that quality which appreciates the value of a reach which exceeds the grasp. That value which is not, it seeks to bring to be. It is this quality which leads humanity to realize that the burden laid upon it is to be dissatisfied with the present achievement in the hope of something better.

The story is told of an oriental despot who summoned one of his wise men and said, “On pain of death, tell me one truth which will always be true.” The sage replied, “My life is in thy hands, O King, but the truth thou sleekest lieth within these words: ‘This, too, shall pass away!” Fortunate is he who can feel assured he has had some part in making that which shall follow in some degree better than the present. Such achievement comes only through creative imagination and idealism.

Artistic zeal is based upon the realization that beauty and utility are inseparable as expressed by Keats in the couple: “Beauty is truth, truth beauty; that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

The livestock breeder needs Patience because the operations of nature are slow. No matter on which level he starts, he finds that the development of a herd of cattle and bringing this to anything like what he has hoped for and imagined takes the years covering many cattle generations and most of a man’s lifetime.

The man who does not actually Love animals and who cannot get pleasure simply from being with his livestock and noting their progress should not be in the purebred business. He will miss its satisfactions as an avocation and will not succeed in it as a business.

The purebred livestock business is based upon the Integrity of its participants. Integrity goes deeper than mere honesty. Honesty may consist of the negative virtue of not doing wrong. Integrity is based upon the inherent desire to do right as between man and man because of the instinctive feeling that this is the plane upon which human relations are best conducted.

Capital is required in any business. The slower the turnover of the business, the more capital is required. The man engaging in purebred livestock business must realize that it will be some years before returns from his investment may be expected to be commensurate with his investment. This will be true no matter what level he starts to operate. One engaging in any other business anticipates a certain amount of time required to get known, to iron out the kinks in his business, to establish good will by virtue of the quality of his product and his methods of dealing. It is no different in the purebred livestock business. The farm name will represent what is essentially his trademark, to get recognition for this will take time. This writer’s father used to have an inelegant but very expressive saying, “You can’t bull a cow tonight and eat veal for breakfast.” The new breeder will generally be unable to sell his product for what he has had to pay for his foundations. He will have bought, if he is wise, cattle from recognized breeders. These are the “known brands” of the cattle business and, as such, they command more than the unknown brands of new breeders. That time is money is a common saying. In the case of the new breeders this means that he must have enough capital to carry him over the period of time necessary to get established. It may be longer than the thinks.

The greatest cost of purebred, as compared with commercial herds (we will not call them scrubs), comes from the feeding of unproductive increase until these are marketed. In a commercial herd approximately sixty percent of the livestock units will be of productive ages; while in a purebred herd only about one-third will be. This means that one is carrying on expense many more young cattle from which there is no immediate return.

They must be fed better. The man who buys purebred livestock buys them because he believes them superior to what he now has. Unless they look it, he will not buy. The man who does not expect to give more care to his purebred cattle than would ordinarily be taken of common cattle, had better not engage in the business. Care is necessary for another reason: the variation upon which improvement is based is induced by better care. Farming and especially livestock breeding is a highly skilled and intricate business requiring scientific knowledge and no small degree of practical skill.

No man should start purebred livestock breeding who is not able and willing – even glad – to Study Constantly. Like St. Paul, he will always need to say, “I count not myself to have attained.” The man who is unable to change his mind does not prove thereby that he has a powerful mind -he proves, rather, that he is a weak man. There will always be much to learn and sometimes it is necessary to unload the present cargo to make room for the new. Making up one’s mind needs to mean more than merely rearranging one’s prejudices.

Courage is required in all business. Disappointments will come. Loses do occur. Neighbors may be unappreciative. Chances must be taken. It seems to be one of the trying things that those occurrences which we have been unable to anticipate are usually those whose results are on the wrong side of the ledger.

Summary. The purebred livestock business is a lifetime job. It is not a job for one who expects quick rewards. Ida Tarbel said that contentment of mind is largely dependent upon one’s activity in an undertaking which he believes worthwhile. Purebred cattle business is a rewarding and a satisfactory business for those so constituted that the goals they seek are those reached through service, creative enterprise, and the forwarding of the enduring good of humanity. The greatest values in life are not material. Those who realize this will understand the meaning of the injunction “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.”

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