Brahman bulls play key role in Texas trade mission to Vietnam

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TAYLOR, Texas (Nexstar) — As agriculture leaders from Texas and other states prepare to embark on a week-long trip to Asia, a sought-after breed of cattle is taking the spotlight.

Cattle raisers and breeders worldwide desire Brahman bulls to sire calves in their herds to bring their beef to a higher quality.

A Brahman bull stands in a stable at Brushy Creek Custom Sires, which has offered bovine reproduction services in Central Texas for more than four decades. The Brahman bull’s genetic material is highly sought-after, particularly overseas. Oct. 10, 2019 (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)

“We house other people’s bulls and collect semen, process it, and freeze it, and store it for them and ultimately ship it to their buyers either in the United States or in foreign countries,” said Ava Barker, owner of Brushy Creek Custom Sires. She has run a bovine reproduction business for more than 40 years near Taylor, Texas, about 30 miles east of Austin.

“The Brahman market is pretty much all the southern hemisphere,” she explained. “Those people in those countries endure hot weather like we do in Texas and the Brahman and the Brahman cross are the most prolific in those countries so there are purebred breeders down there that want to upgrade their herds and this would include South America, Central America, African countries, the Asian countries — Thailand and Australia.”

Texas also exports bull DNA to Vietnam.

“We have been cultivating Vietnam for quite some time,” Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said.

Miller is part of a delegation of state and federal agriculture officials from around the nation flying to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam for a week to talk about business partnerships and the economy.

While there, the Americans, led by United States Department of Agriculture Under Secretary Ted McKinney, will meet with Vietnamese agriculture industry representatives, tour one of the largest supermarket chains in that country, and visit the only fully-automated cold storage facility in Asia.

“We mainly sell them animal genetics,” Miller said. “We ship a number of Brahman bulls over there to help improve their herd, embryos, semen, things like that.”

A workers holds a sample of Brahman bull reproductive material at Brushy Creek Custom Sires, which has offered bovine reproduction services in Central Texas for more than four decades. The Brahman bull’s reproductive material is highly sought-after, particularly overseas. Oct. 10, 2019 (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)

“We are going over to shore that business up a little bit,” he continued. “We have already cracked that market but we are going to make sure that we continue to have a good relationship with them.”

Exports between the two countries have skyrocketed in the last decade. According to federal data, U.S. agricultural exports reached a record $4 billion in 2018, up 58 percent from the year before, and up 341 percent since 2008 when exports totaled $906 million.

The growing business between the two nations — particularly exporting more genetic material from bulls — is encouraging for Barker.

“The cattle they have are good cattle, they just need a boost and the Brahman can do that,” she explained.

“If there could be some government interaction to get it started, I think that would be very valuable,” she said.

“Semen sells anywhere from $50-$200 per unit…and we’re shipping 20-25 units on each bull, sometimes 200 sometimes 500 units,” Barker shared.

“It’s a very lucrative business for the breeders, and we’re happy to be a part of it,” she mentioned. “A little of it is filtered down to us.”

Aside from bull DNA, other Texas exports to Vietnam include small grain crops and other GO TEXAN products. According to the Texas Department of Agriculture, Vietnam is the 7th largest market for U.S. agricultural products.

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