Beefmaster cattle were developed by the Lasater Ranch in Texas but now headquartered in Colorado. The breeding program leading to their establishment was started by Ed C. Lasater in 1908, when he purchased Bos Indicus bulls to use on his commercial herd of Hereford and Shorthorn cattle. The first of these bulls that he used were principally of Gir breeding, although some of the Nelore breed was also used. In 1925 he introduced Guzerat blood into the herd.
The Beefmaster Breed began in 1931 when Tom Lasater, in the harsh brush country of south Texas, used Hereford, Shorthorn and Bos Indicus cattle in a three way cross to create the breed. After making crosses of Brahman-Hereford and Brahman-Shorthorn, he felt a superior animal had been produced and called the cattle "Beefmaster." The exact pedigree of the foundation cattle was not known. The breeding operations were carried on in multiple-sire herds and rigid culling was practiced. In 1954, the United States Department of Agriculture recognized Beefmasters as a purebred beef breed and the only certified beef breed that used a three way cross. He moved the cattle operation to Colorado in 1956. The Lasater Ranch estimates that modern Beefmaster cattle have slightly less than one-half Brahman blood and slightly more than one-fourth of Hereford and Shorthorn breeding.
The cattle were handled under range conditions that were often adverse, and a culling program was started based on the six essentials of fertility, disposition, weight, conformation, hardiness and milk production. Stress was placed on the production of beef. No selection was made to characteristics such as horns, hide or color. However, solid red, dun and black animals are more prevalent today than brindles or paints. The Lasater Ranch breeding program provided an interesting example of the use of mass selection in reaching a goal.
Breed Registry and Programs
Today, Beefmaster Breeders United (BBU), http://www.beefmasters.org/index.php, is a union of three associations that still breed for the original six essentials and provide the support that a new breeder requires. The original concepts of Tom Lasater in developing Beefmaster cattle have continued over the years and the six essentials are just as relevant today as they were in1931. The support of BBU includes help in marketing cattle by creating demand for calves via feedlots, advertising, sales, and the Nolan Ryan’s All Natural Beef Program. Other support programs include whole herd reporting (WHR), voluntary classification, approved sales, Beefmaster Advancer registry, upgrading, a strong youth group (Junior Beefmaster Breeders Association) and others.
For the last 80 plus years, Beefmasters have spread to just about every region of the USA and many foreign countries. Mexico and South Africa have the largest international Beefmaster beef registry today. Considerable progress has been made in selecting and breeding Beefmaster cattle that give very satisfactory levels of production under the practical and often severe range conditions. Satisfaction by ranchers and proven growth and performance in feedlots indicate the value of Beefmaster cattle.