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Rasing replacement cows, Hodde style

published: December 10th 2010
by: Martha Hollida Garrett
Leroy and son, Bradley Hodde raise replacement females, and they raise good ones. The Hodde name is associated with quality female consignments at high end commercial replacement heifer sales in Texas and cattlemen across Texas, and Louisiana are now utilizing their genetics. The father-son team run their cattle together from the family headquarters in Washington County, Texas and Bradley represents the fourth generation of the family on the land. They share in management decisions, genetics, chores, facilities and equipment, yet they have separate programs. Dad, Leroy operates Hodde Land and Cattle, which consists of both registered and commercial Brangus genetics. Son, Bradley, operates Diamond H Cattle Co., which consists of registered and commercial Brahmans and Herefords. They also raise some Tiger Stripes, Black Baldies and Super Baldies from the base breeds in the two programs. You can find their genetics in the commercial heifer sales at the Fort Worth, San Antonio and Houston Livestock Shows, as well as the Independent Cattlemen’s Commercial Heifer Sale, Bluebonnet Cattlemen’s Sale in Bren-ham and various sales produced by Johnson Cattle Marketing. Their office is lined with banners from these sales and the herds have produced many champions at these sales over the course of many years. In addition, the cattle have earned the respect of cattlemen and year after year, their consignments routinely sell to repeat buyers. They primarily sell their cattle as breds and pairs in the sales, while selling open heifers and some breds at the ranch. They have also started marketing a select group to junior exhibitors for county commercial pen of heifer competitions. “We work hard to make sure the genetics we use are predictable, solid and provide our customers with the best product we can,” says Leroy, adding that the quality they sell starts with the quality of genetics they use. Bradley adds that the females are culled at three different times prior to making the cut for each sale. The heifer calves are evaluated and culled at weaning, breeding time and again at palpation. Heifer calves not making the cut, and most of the bull calves are sent to feedlots. They maintain both spring and fall calving herds. At weaning, the heifer calves are given a full round of vaccinations and then are backgrounded on oats/rye grass pasture. They bale all of their own hay, so high quality coastal hay is also a part of their diet. They also feed cubes to gentle them down during the preconditioning time. The heifers weigh approximately 600 pounds at weaning and are bred to calve as two-year-olds, with the exception of the Brahmans, which are bred about two months later. “My Brangus genetics originated with Rocky Joe 1/5 and WSR Cloud 942, two of the dominant lines in the breed’s beginning,” says Leroy. Today’s herd of about 150 head has females that can be traced backed to these bulls. Over the years other popular bloodlines have been added and currently bulls from the GeneTrust group and Skyhawk Brangus are used. Leroy also raises some Baldies and Super Baldies. Hereford bulls from Bradley’s program are crossed on some of the Brangus to produce the Super Baldies and Angus are crossed with some to produce Baldies. All commercial heifers in both programs are bred to Angus bulls for their first calf and currently they are utilizing Angus genetics from 44 Farms. “We are firm believers in EPDs and pay strict attention to calving ease numbers for our herd and for the females we produce for our customers,” des-cribes Leroy. Bradley’s Diamond H herd includes about 150 registered Brahmans, 50 commercial Brahmans and 50 registered Hereford cows. He began showing Brahmans at the age of 9 and has built his program from that beginning. His Brahman genetics are strong in J.D. Hudgins lines and his Hereford cows carry Pied Piper, W4 and Rotello Cattle Company breeding. Hereford bulls from the C&M, McGinness and Pied Piper programs have also been incorporated. “I mainly sell Tiger Stripes in these sales, which are bred back to the Angus bulls, and I sell the majority of the Brahmans by private treaty at the ranch,” says Bradley, adding that some of his registered genetics are purchased as show projects by juniors. “I love the cattle. This is the only job I want. I have to be outside, so a desk job is just something I couldn’t do. I enjoy breeding good cattle and selling good cattle,” says Bradley. The Hoddes agree there are two keys to success in the replacement female business and those are quality and uniformity. “If you don’t start with quality, you will never have it in your herd,” says Leroy. Bradley adds that you have to breed the cattle to be uniform, so that buyers can purchase heifers that are alike. They both are also quick to point out that there is another reason they have been successful in the major replacement sales and with the cattle they market from the ranch. “You have to stand behind your cattle and provide assurance to your buyers that you have represented your product honestly,” emphasizes Bradley. Their cattle have been judged by top cattlemen from across the country at these sales and they have been found to be some of the best at these replacement sales. The division wins have been many over the last 10 years and some of the highlights would include Champion F1 Pairs, Champion Tiger Stripes, Overall Champion American Breeds at the Fort Worth Sale, Champion Baldies and Hereford Pairs at San Antonio, Champion Black F1s and Champion Black Baldies at Houston, just to name a few. The Hoddes are also in the hay business, as they raise a mixture of hay grazer, Klein grass, native grass, as well as coastal Bermuda. They also run yearlings and retain ownership on these through the harvest pro-cess. Leroy opened Hodde Realty 32 years ago in Brenham, Texas and he and son Randy, and his wife, Debbie are involved in this business, while Bradley works with a group in managing some local bull and females sales. The next generation of Hoddes are also involved in agriculture, as Randy and Debbie’s daughter, Carysn has started showing and three-year-old son, Cooper is sure to follow. The Hoddes are ready for the 2011 stock show sales and will have cattle from both divisions at Fort Worth, San Antonio and Houston Commercial Re-placement Female Sales. “These sales attract not only quality cattle, but quality cattlemen. We like showcasing our program at these events and we look forward to visiting with our customers,” says Leroy. SLS

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