25 years ago, Teddy Gentry of Bent Tree Farms in Fort Payne, Alabama set out to build a better composite beef breed. Teddy chose the very best foundation purebred cattle from each of the individual breeds that make up the South Poll breed. His idea was based on a desire to combine four maternal Bos Taurus breeds together to form a more heat tolerant animal that had a gentle disposition and tender carcass qualities. Teddy explained he used Hereford and Angus in the mix because the Herefords were very docile, had great foraging ability and could adapt anywhere. The Angus were chosen for their carcass traits and mothering ability. The Barzonas were selected because they are very hardy, heat tolerant, have good udders, and have great longevity. One of Teddy's Barzonas lived to be 26 years of age. The 4th piece of the composite was the Senepol, a slick-haired heat tolerant breed developed on St. Croix, Virgin Islands by breeding native N'dama cattle to Red Poll bulls. According to the University of Florida, Senepols are the most heat-tolerant breed they have tested.
According to Dave Roberts, Teddy's herdsman, the combination of the four-way cross has resulted in a very balanced beef animal that is virtually problem free, efficient on grass, very fertile, has very desirable carcass qualities including tenderness, and they are docile and easy to handle. Also, the South Poll breed have significantly fewer calving problems, less pink eye, fewer prolapses, less fertility problems and fly issues. Although South Polls were bred to be the Southern mama cow, they have proved themselves to thrive virtually everywhere in the continental United States and South America.
Although South Polls excel on grass, when placed in a feedlot the South Polls simply explode! When quizzing Dave about carcass traits, he refers to the fact that a load of steers that was fed in a commercial feeding operation graded 96% choice and prime and another set of steers in a feedlot situation gained 4.89 pounds per day, setting a record for the feeder who feeds thousands per year.
Roberts also told us about a grazier who reported a pot-load of South Polls out performed any cattle he had dealt with. John Lyons, a North Alabama stocker made the statement that "South Polls can do more on less" than any other breed he has worked with.
Greg Judy, the Missouri mob-grazing guru and author of Comeback Farms, runs South Poll cattle on his farms. In his book Greg states, "from the very first moment I got the cows [South Polls], they have performed better than any cattle that I had previously grazed".
We can say from experience on our ranch in the Florida panhandle, the South Polls excel on our Bahia grass pastures and will fatten and finish on grass and legumes alone. As the saying goes, "the proof is in the pudding". We sold 22 grass finished South Poll x Angus steers to prominent abattoir that processes about 15 head of grass-fed cattle per day. The owner, upon seeing the load of steers, made the comment, "These are the best set of steers that have ever come through here, and if not the best, then among the very best". The plant manager later confirmed that the carcass mirrored the great physical appearance of the steers.
We believe Teddy has made a phenomenal accomplishment to have developed South Poll grass cattle in 20 years. It could have taken most people a lifetime to do this. We are honored to be a part of this grass movement.
We focus on developing and improving the genetic quality traits South Polls are known for:
- high reproductive performance
- easy fleshing and low maintenance
- adaptable to varied climates
- ability to efficiently thrive on forage
- quality carcass traits and tenderness
We believe in line breeding to increase the genetic concentration and predictability. For this reason, many South Poll bulls are line bred. As Teddy was developing the breed, he intentionally built in longevity by using bulls out of his oldest cows. We have purposefully kept and purchased older South Poll cows. They are the workhorses of our breeding programs, raising a good calf every year, keeping in good flesh and maintaining an almost heifer-like udder.
Bona Fide 9405 named 2010 Breed Leader!
9405 is a low birth weight bull that is well balanced and grew into a bull that is wide-based and has thickness end to end. His dam is one of the best uddered cows in the breed. Use 9405 with confidence to sire outstanding males and females.
Chief is a gentle bull that looks like a bull. He was our very first herd bull and has sired some of the best female South Polls in the breed and some fine bull calves. Chief' produces calves with slick hair and produces beautiful udders on his daughters.
Teddy Gentry, upon viewing Romeo at the South Poll field day in 2014 stated, "this bull is everything a bull should be" With a frame score of 3.5, he should some height off of your herd. Romeo would be perfect to use on first calf heifers. We lost Romeo in 2015 due to a tragic accident. Semen is limited.