Breeding Brahmans
Official Magazine of the Georgia Cattleman's Association
Story By Bailey K. Toates
     David and Elaine Dillard have seen a lot through the years. Both grew up on family farms in Hahira, Georgia. The two attended Hahira schools from first to twelfth grade when they graduated in 1957. The next year, David and Elaine were married.
     "We have had a little bit of everything," Elaine says. We have had Angus, Charolais, Santa Gertrudis, Simmental, Simbrah, and now Brahman.
     The Dillards crossed their Angus cattle with Brahmans and were very pleased with the results.
     Starting in the late '60s, David would purchase feeder cattle and feed them out to market directly to the packers.
     We always fed out Brahman-influenced cattle," David says. "We could buy them cheaper through the sale because the other shippers didn't want them."
     David says the Brahman-influenced cattle gained better because of the higher hybrid vigor when Bos indicus is crossed with a Bos taurus. He continued this practice until the early '80s when he made his transition to purebred cattle.
     "I've always been partial to Brahman cattle," David says. "We started with Brahmans in the early '80s when we bought a small herd for beef prices because of the drought."
     Brahman cattle bring a lot to the table. The Dillards have sold to both purebred breeders and commercial cattlemen that are creating the F-1 calves. Brahman F-1 cattle are in high demand because of their hybrid vigor. The F-1 cattle are successsful as both replacement females and as feeder cattle.
     "We have had success with Brahmans because they are productive on marginal pastures, heat tolerant and resistant to insects and parasites," David says. "All of which are typical of South Georgia."
     Brahmans can withstand the extreme temperatures because of their short, thick, glossy hair coat which reflects the sun's rays. Unlike other breeds of cattle, Brahmans have the ability to sweat and dissipate the heat.
     The Dillards were pleasantly surprised when they received the papers on that first group of cattle. The cattle had several legendary animals in their pedigrees.
      "We buy bulls with some age on them that are about to be sent to the barn," David says. "This lets us get quality genetics at cheaper prices."
      The Dillards are very active in the breed. They are members of the Florida Brahman Association, Carolina Brahman Association and the American Brahman Breeders Association. David served two years on the board of directors for the American Brahman Breeders Association.
      "We have been lucky to travel and represent the breed at the same time," Elaine says.
      The couple traveled to Houston, Texas; Dallas Texas; and Shreveport, La for board meetings. They would also
travel around the Southeast to attend association meetings, field days and sales.
     The Dillards also served as the superintendant of the open Brahman show at the Georgia National Fair in Perry, Georgia.
     "We were involved with the shows to help promote the breeds," David says. "We even had a few of our own on the show road. Joe Butt would show them for us."
     David and Elaine would attend the Sunbelt Expo in Moultrie, Ga to represent the Brahman breed. At first the ABBA supplied a display for them to use, but then getting it shipped to and from became a task. The Dillards decided to have their own display made to showcase their cattle as well as the Brahman breed.
     "One day while we were sitting at the booth, some folks walked up and asked when they could go look at some Brahmans that were for sale," David says. "I told them we could go look as soon as the expo closed for the day."
     That evening, the group from Puerto Rico followed the Dillards back to their farm to check our what they had for sale. Once David had enough females to fill a trailer, he sent a load to the buyer in Puerto Rico.
     "They were so pleased with the cattle that they called back and asked to buy another trailer load!" Dillard says. "I had to tell them that they cleaned me out and I needed to keep what I had left as replacement heifers."
     This was the first time the Dillards had sold and shipped internationally.
     "We have sent bulls and heifers to Thailand, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Puerto Rico," David says.
     The Dillards have approximately 80 head of registered Brahmans and David can pet nearly every one of them.
     "They really are docile," David says as he scratched the topline of one of his massive herd bulls. "It is all about how you handle them. If you are aggressive toward them, then they will be aggressive toward you."
     After going from pasture to pasture, there wasn't a single animal that David couldn't touch. Everything from the calves to the bulls came up to see what was going on and stood to be petted.
     This is what we can pride ourselves on," Elaine says. "Not everybody can walk out into their pasture and pet any one of their cattle."
David and Elaine At The Ranch
Located 3 miles East of I-75,
Exit 29 on Highway 122,
Hahira, Georgia