America’s Original Beef Breed
Santa Gertrudis cattle, named for the Spanish land grant where Captain Richard King first established the King Ranch, were developed to thrive, prosper and gain weight on the native grasses of the South Texas brush country. The first, and perhaps most, enduring efforts to produce the rugged breed began in 1910 when King Ranch decided to systematically cross its Shorthorn and Hereford cattle with Brahman. After a few crosses, the Brahman-Shorthorn cross showed the most promise, and the ranch headed toward a cross of 3/8 Brahman and 5/8 Shorthorn as the optimum blend of the two breeds.
In 1920, an outstanding bull calf, Monkey, was produced. With a distinctive red color and an exceptionally deep and well-muscled body, Monkey was the most impressive calf of any breed ever born on King Ranch. In 1923, Monkey was used in a breeding herd of first-cross Brahman-Shorthorn red heifers. His offspring were superior cattle that were well adapted to the harsh environment where they were developed.
Most important, the calves made money for the ranch. Highly prepotent, Monkey became the foundation herd sire for the Santa Gertrudis breed. Through many generations, his descendants have retained the rapid and efficient growth, solid red color, hardiness and good disposition Monkey was known for.
In 1940, the cross received official recognition when the U.S. Department of Agriculture recognized 3/8 Brahman and 5/8 Shorthorn as a distinctive beef breed. Cattlemen throughout the United States, Mexico, South America, Australia and other countries took interest in the breed and started using them in commercial herds and/or establishing seedstock operations. Today, Santa Gertrudis are still referred to as America’s original beef breed.
Santa Gertrudis were developed for survival and are adaptable to most climates, environments and terrains. They thrive in the hot, humid weather along the coastal regions of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. They also perform well in more arid regions such as those found in South Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. Purebred Santa Gertrudis herds are located as far south as Argentina and as far north as Canada. Santa Gertrudis are very disease resistant and are hardy animals that will travel long distances in search of forage and water.
Santa Gertrudis females are known for their exceptional maternal traits; they are fertile and give birth to calves that are small at birth, eliminating most calving difficulties. The females are also known for their strong mothering instincts. Under normal management and with adequate nutrition, Santa Gertrudis females will breed at 12-14 months of age and produce their first calf as a 2-year-old. Santa Gertrudis females are also an above-average producer of milk, which allows females to wean heavier calves.
Santa Gertrudis have also proved to be one of the world’s leading and most efficient producers of quality beef. Purebred Santa Gertrudis steers are exceptional feeder calves that gain rapidly and efficiently while producing a consumer-pleasing product. Santa Gertrudis steers, purebred or crossbred, prove that they can gain above and beyond the national average when in the feedlot.
As part of the 2018 SGBI Steer Feedout, purebred Santa Gertrudis steers representing 25 different sire groups were fed at AzTx Feeders, Hereford, Texas, through the winter and spring and harvested at the Tyson beef plant in Amarillo, Texas, on June 29, 2018. The Santa Gertrudis cattle graded 96 percent Choice, with 51 percent hitting the Premium Choice mark. The steers’ average USDA Yield Grade was 2.98 with 50 percent of the carcasses scoring Yield Grade 1s and 2s. The ribeye area (REA) average was 14 square inches, and the cattle gained 3.51 pounds per day during the feeding period.
Industry data collected and released in 2017 on 3,800 head showed Santa Gertrudis steers grading 70.9 percent Prime and Choice, surpassing the plant average of 62.3 percent Choice by 8.6 percent. This information is valid and is proof that Santa Gertrudis feeders efficiently hit endpoint targets, producing a profitable animal for all beef industry members. Most important, the results of numerous association, university and industry feeding trails and harvest data collection activities show that the final product pleases consumers.
Santa Gertrudis, horned or polled, possess traits that purebred and commercial cattlemen demand. Whether you are producing purebred, commercial or feedlot animals, Santa Gertrudis combine all the traits needed for performance and profitability.