Breeding for success
published: August 15th 2014
by: Merridee Wells
Success is measured in a variety of ways. In purebred cattle circles, satisfied customers, high sales averages, show ring wins, and recognition by fellow breeders are all measures of success. This said, Doguet’s Diamond D Ranch, Beaumont, Texas, can mark themselves and their Brangus operation successful.
Of course this success hasn’t come about without hard work, great leadership, strong management including a team of dedicated folks, plus the enthusiasm and support of Mike and Lisa Doguet,. The Doguets have been focused on production functional, real-world cattle suited to the tough environment of South Texas since the inception of their Brangus program in 1992.
“Our goal has always been and continues to be focused on producing commercial bulls for cattlemen in our area,” said Mike Doguet. “As time has gone by our cattle have been accepted in the show ring whch is a great bonus for us, but it is not, nor ever will be a primary goal of our breeding program. Don’t get me wrong, we are very thankful that our cattle are competitive, but we understand that it’s just “part” of what our cattle have to offer.”
When they began their program they envisioned breeding Brangus cattle that could function in the tough South Texas country, while still working in the wetter Gulf Coast regions to offer that bred-in ability to withstand high temperatures, humidity, flies, mosquitos and other environmental challenges, such as drought.
“We were seeking to breed cattle that could do all that,” explained Doguet, “plus survive and thrive on good mineral and grass and still maintain themselves, sire and wean heavy calves. We know it’s not practical for us or our customers to have to rely on high priced supplemental feeds, like corn, in order to stay in the cattle business.”
With this mantra in mind, Doguet’s Diamond D set out to develop a cowherd that could do all that. It took creative thinking, a practical mindset and the goal of customer satisfaction to propel the program forward.
In 2004, the addition of a group of females from the South Gate Ranch herd brought the program the genetic material they were looking for and could build a program around. At the same time Timmy Lucherk, a familiar name to those in Brangus circles also came on board as genetics manager.
“Our program took off from there, “ indicated Doguet. “Timmy and I had similar thoughts on what the industry, and specifically our program, needed to focus on. He has a tremendous background in the Brangus business. He is a walking fountain of knowledge. His ability to recall pedigrees and know the back story of many of the cow families in our breed has been a great asset in putting together our program,” Doguet explained.
Utilizing current technology, such as ultrasound and now DNA testing, plus an aggressive embryo transplant program has helped them concentrate their genetic focus on those bloodlines. These have proven themselves in their program and are rapidly growing the cowherd in a positive direction.
The Doguet program has several south Texas locations, including ranches in Poth, Nome, Poteet and McCoy, which all play an integral part in positioning the operation to supply Brangus genetics in an area that traditionally has a large commercial cowherd population.
“Of course numbers have been down the past few years,” Doguet said, “but we are building our numbers and area cattleman continue to do so as well. Those who had to restock are seeking better, higher quality genetics, knowing that there is a payoff, whether it means the cattle wean heavier calves, the cows have more longevity, or the cattle feed better. We want to be able to supply all of these things to our customers. “
The program today now enjoys a continued and growing repeat customer base. In the last few years they have been able to market a good number of bulls to programs like Lykes Brothers of Florida, a large integrated agricultural operation which has a commercial cowherd, citrus orchards and other entities in Florida as well as Texas.
In fact, Doguet, Lucherk, and Eric Otto ( who runs the ranches at Poteet and McCoy) recently toured the Florida operation while attending the Florida Cattlemen’s convention.
“We wanted to look at the calf crop,” said Lucherk. “Lykes are very pleased with the quality of the calves they are getting, plus how well the bulls are holding up. We have to keep in mind what the customer wants and needs when we develop our cattle. This is what will keep us in the cattle business.”
While the Diamond D program continues to build a strong customer base across the south, they are inadvertently building a strong following in the show ring as well.
“We didn’t go looking for it,” said Lucherk, “but we are happy to have it happen. The industry has come around to selecting the type of cattle we are producing. We’ve always looked to produce moderate framed cattle that have added thickness and we want our bulls to be clean underneath. The females should be sound, fertile and have longevity.”
Reviewing some of the operation’s successes, Lucherk recalls their first International Grand Champion bull in Houston, DDD “Lights Out” who won that title in 2006. In 2008, the operation enjoyed a double victory when Hercules took home the grand champion title and another Doguet-bred bull, Toughman, won the reserve title. Following those wins, the program was proud to have produced the International Brangus Breeders Association (IBBA) 2010 Sire of the Year (Hercules); the 2010 Show Heifer of the Year (DDD Ms. Sylvia 804U27) and the 2010 Show Bull of the Year (DDD Walks Alone 193W6). Continuing their strong presence in the show ring, 2011 saw Doguets named the IBBA Breeder of the Year and Hercules again took the association’s title for Sire of the Year, a title he again claimed in 2013. Additionally, DDD Uppercuts Legacy 804X37 was selected the 2012 International Champion bull.
“Plus,” said Lucherk, “a female we bred called Barbara was 2012 and 2013 IBBA Show Heifer of the Year, the breed’s first back to back winner.”
In addition, another niche market has developed for Doguet-bred bulls that again, has a foundation in the show ring. Lucherk explains, “In the last five years the champion Brangus steer in Houston has been sired by one of our bulls, and two of those years both the champion and reserve were sired by bulls we bred. It’s not a marketing outlet you can count on, but we have seen increasing interest in some of our top end bulls going to these guys who are breeding for that show steer market. We aren’t turning down the business,” he said.
A point of pride for both Doguet and Lucherk is the increased popularity of another of their home-bred bulls called Outcross.
“Outcross is a 5 frame bull, who sires calves in the top 10% of the breed for yearling weight,” explained Lucherk. “He is the kind of individual who maintains himself on grass, is moderate in frame, but still sires cattle with accelerated growth. His type is what our program is all about.”
“Outcross stays fat on air,” added Douget, stating that he is very excited about the impact Outcross will have on their program and perhaps on the Brangus breed.
While the they passionate about their Brangus cattle, they are also heavily involved in other agricultural pursuits. Perhaps the most unique aspect of their current business is the fact that they were the first organic rice producers in the state and today contract over 5,000 acres of organic rice, making them the largest producer in Texas and one of the largest in the nation.
“We have been involved in many aspects of the business including milling, brokering and growing rice,” explained Doguet. “While I have sold my interest in the rice mill to my sister, I am still involved in production. We have seen a real increase in the demand for organic rice and think that part of the business will continue to grow.”
In addition to cattle and rice, the family has interests in sod farming, a business that son, Darby currently operates. Son-in-law Matthew Willey is also involved in the cattle business and he and his wife, Michelle, live on the home ranch near Nome.
Rounding out the management team are Ross Leger, who oversees the ranch at Poth, and Mary Douglass who is in charge of the cattle office.
An annual fall sale featuring 150+ spring-bred bulls, plus a handful of fall yearling bulls, and 60-70 females is held the third Saturday in October at Poteet, while another sale, featuring some show prospects, is held in April.
“The April sale at Poteet is usually where we market our show heifers and such,” explained Lucherk, “but it’s also developing into a customer appreciation sale of sorts, where we can help some of our customers market cattle featuring our genetics.”
With involvement in a variety of agricultural pursuits including the registered Brangus business, rice and sod farming, the Doguet program is expanding to include the next generation of their family, ensuring their agricultural legacy will continue for years to come.