by Baxter Black, DVM
I started out in the cattle business south of the Little Ear Parallel. That line that runs approximately from Fresno to Atlanta. South of that imaginary boundary cattle with ’a little ear’ do real well. Braymer and braymer cross is what we’re talkin’ here. They differ from the European breeds in several ways, particularly in their resistance to hot weather and bugs. But they differ in another important trait which affects the way you handle them. They are not afraid of human beings. Oh, they’ll give us a wide berth given a choice but they adjust very quickly to the company of men as long as you don’t stir ‘em up. Which explains why Zebu and not Charlois are worshipped in India. But start messin’ with a Santa Gertrudis calf and you better be lookin’ over your shoulder. Or pushin’ a sick braymer…he’s liable to charge your horse. As a young stupid youth I worked in the feedlots in the southwest. We fed lots of braymers. They arrived right out of the swamp or piney woods, or off the desert and soon adjusted to life at the bunk. But they were not very good patients at the doctor shack. ‘Specially after they got to weighin’ six or seven hundred pounds. In spite of my counseling, they got real testy about goin’ through the squeeze chute for a little needle and bolus therapy. I can remember many occasions acting as braymer bait. They’d get on the fight and one of us would stand in the gate waving like a shipwrecked sailor, trying to entice them out of the pen. Even when sick, they were fast and I’ve had more than my share of snot on my shirt tail. Rick said he was attempting to drive a braymer cross cow to the corral. It was hot that spring in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. He’d pushed the ol’ darlin’ within half a mile of the pen when she sulled up and got on the fight. In a moment of brilliance…he roped her. She kept chargin’ but he held his dally ‘til they came to a standstill. He managed to get Joe’s attention. Joe climbed out of the pickup near the corral where he’s been waiting and walked to Rick. The ol’ cow snorted and charged Joe! Joe lit out for the pickup. “Run to the corral!” yelled Rick, spurrin’ up behind the cow, holdin’ her like a Doberman on a leash. “Toward the gate!” Joe slowed a couple of times and went down once but Rick managed to keep her from walkin’ Joe like a footlog. The cow was slobberin’ in Joe’s pocket when he raced through the gate. Rick undallyed as soon as the cow shot in behind Joe. Joe cleared the five foot fence from the inside and never hit the top rail! Which just proves my point; you don’t see many Herefords gathered that way, do ya?