Steve Teichert comes from a four-generation ranching family. He now lives at Mackay, Idaho, where he raises efficient cattle he calls Blackfords — half Angus, half Hereford.
“I grew up in Wyoming and lived there 45 years. The best cattle there were black-baldy cows. Most ranchers used bulls of a third breed to make a terminal cross. But the biggest problem with that program is the black-baldy cow was the best cow they had, and they couldn’t keep any replacement heifers,” Teichert said.
In the 1950s and 1960s his family raised registered Herefords and had a large herd of commercial Herefords.
“I started using the best Angus bulls I could find, on my registered Hereford cows, to produce F1 females. The black white-faced cow was superior in all aspects,” he said.
“I started my Blackford program, breeding F1 females to F1 bulls. We keep them half and half. Some of the bulls we have now are 25 generations of halfbloods on halfbloods,” he said.
As long as you keep the mix half-and-half it works well. It doesn’t matter which breed the bull is, to create that first cross, as long as the bull and the cow are selected for the traits you want.
“My personal preference (but it depends on the individual cow or bull) is to use a Hereford bull. I like the black cow a little better than the Hereford cow, and the Hereford bull better than an Angus bull,” he said.
The Hereford bull is more fertile, with more longevity, fewer breeding injuries, and will cover more cows in rough conditions.
“Black bulls often shade up in hot weather, or spend more time fighting each other than breeding,” Teichert said.
The Angus cow is a good mother and tends to have a better udder than the Hereford cow.
“I prefer to put up with Hereford bulls rather than Angus bulls. The Blackford bulls are also better than Angus bulls for breeding cows. Crossbred bulls are the most fertile and cover more cows,” he said.
“I’ve been playing with Blackford cattle since early 1970s. I’ve made many mistakes, but probably the reason I made so many is that no one else has tried what I’m doing. Once I got the kinks out of this breeding program, the cattle are phenomenal.”
As a geneticist, Teichert wanted to create a better breed of cattle through crossbreeding.
“I studied all the other breeds and composites — including Brangus, Santa Gertrudis, Beefmaster, et cetera — and decided the most important trait for cattle is fertility. So I used the two most fertile beef breeds — Angus and Hereford,” he said.
About 85 percent of the calves are born in the first 21 days of calving season. He does some AI work, but doesn’t synchronize.
“I’ve lived in five different Western states during my lifetime and I want cattle that work in every environment,” he said. “The Blackfords have worked very well in every environment I’ve been in.”
Other breeds may not always work.
“Eared cattle (with Brahman influence) don’t do very well in cold country. In Nevada, where I lived awhile, some cattle can’t handle that rough environment and traveling; they may have to walk 10 miles to water. But the Blackford cattle excel everywhere,” he said.
The Blackford breed association was created in the 1970s.
“To be registered, the cattle must be half and half — from an Angus bull and a Hereford cow or vice versa,” he said. “This first cross can be put back on black baldy cows. If you have half of each, you can register that animal. Often the choice in how a person crosses these two breeds is whether they have a superior black cow or a superior Hereford cow.”
Blackford Cattle Company
Owner: Steve Teichert
Location: Mackey, Idaho, since 2004
Raising Blackfords since 1970