LSU's Brahman Bloodlines

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Most people with even passing familiarity with LSU history know 1958 was a milestone year for the university. It was the first time the LSU Tigers claimed a national championship on the football field, a feat that wouldn’t be accomplished again for more than four decades.

Elsewhere on campus that year, another national championship was being celebrated. A university-owned heifer named Queen Manso the 11th of LSU brought home the Grand Champion Female title from the 1958 National Brahman Exposition in Bartow, Florida.

Manso is an important name in the history of Brahman cattle — and LSU has a long history with the heat-tolerant, humpbacked breed, owning the oldest university Brahman herd in the country.

Manso, the most famous Brahman bull

LSU’s Queen Manso was descended from Manso, a gray Brahman bull born in 1926 in Francitas, Texas. In 1933, his owner traded him for some bulls from the J.D. Hudgins Ranch.

Walter Hudgins brought Manso back to the ranch in Hungerford, Texas, where his family had spent the past several years experimenting with raising Brahmans. The breed, Bos indicus, originated in India and was catching on among American ranchers. The animals sport gray or red hides with loose skin hanging from their necks, long ears and humps on their backs.

“They’re known for being heat tolerant and insect resistant,” said Tyler Braud, an instructor and animal science specialist with the LSU AgCenter School of Animal Sciences and Louisiana 4-H.

Manso was special, described as a “gentle, very beefy bull” who stood out from the “wild, thin and leggy” Brahmans found in the U.S. at the time, according to the Texas State Historical Association. He sired more than 300 offspring, and the Hudgins ranch forever changed American cattle production.

“They are the ones who really started the American Brahmans,” Braud said. “Almost every gray Brahman in the United States today traces back eventually to that Manso bloodline.”

The LSU connection

LSU acquired its first Brahmans about 100 years ago, Braud said, before Manso hit the scene.

Like the Hudgins family in Texas, LSU animal science researchers were curious as to how this tough breed could fit into Southern cattle operations at a time when many ranchers were dipping their animals to ward off ticks.

LSU’s big contribution came with the development of the Brangus hybrid in the 1930s. At what is now known as the LSU AgCenter Iberia Research Station near Jeanerette, scientists crossed Brahman stock with both Shorthorn and American Angus cattle.

They eventually found a winning formula: animals who were 5/8 Angus and 3/8 Brahman yielded good meat while standing up well to hot, humid weather and insects.

Today, nearly all beef cattle in Louisiana are at least partially Brahmans.

“With the type of climate we have in Louisiana, we have to incorporate the Brahman breed for the herds to thrive,” Braud said.

Today’s herd

Back in Queen Manso’s day, LSU was still heavily agricultural in focus, and the campus comprised swaths of farmland and livestock barns. While much has changed since then, researchers have continued to depend on university cattle to find solutions to problems being encountered in the industry.

Braud and his colleagues make use of a 200-head herd located a few minutes south of campus at the AgCenter Doyle Chambers Central Research Station. About 30 of the animals are Brahmans.

For example, associate professor Xing Fu is doing molecular-level research with the goal of enhancing Brahman carcass quality — an industry term for the eating experience of meat and a longstanding issue. Brahmans have been known to produce tough cuts that lack desirable marbling, and significant strides toward improving carcass quality have been made in recent years.

The off-campus herd gives College of Agriculture students plenty of opportunities to get hands-on experience with livestock.

Braud, who teaches an undergraduate beef cattle production course, takes his students to the research station every Wednesday afternoon.

“We can use it for the students to learn everyday management practices that happen on beef cattle operations,” Braud said. “And when we think about the cow herd in the state of Louisiana, wherever we go, there’s Brahman influence. It’s critical that we teach our students with this type of cattle.”

Olivia McClure is a writer, editor, photographer and videographer in AgCenter Communications.

This article appears in the winter 2024 edition of Louisiana Agriculture magazine.

A black-and-white photo shows a large Brahman cow.

Queen Manso the 11th, an LSU-bred brahman heifer, was named the Grand Champion Female at the 1958 National Brahman Exposition. LSU AgCenter file photo

A man kneels on the ground while showing two women a white cow with its head stuck through a squeeze chute.

LSU animal science students Ashlyn Brewer, left, and Elisa Preston listen as their instructor, Tyler Braud, talks with them about using a squeeze chute during a visit to the LSU AgCenter Doyle Chambers Central Research Station. Here, Braud is using the chute to hold a gray Brahman heifer so he can check the condition of her teeth. Photo by Olivia McClure

A group of people lean on a fence and white a group of white cattle in a pen.

Tyler Braud, right, an instructor and animal science specialist with the LSU AgCenter School of Animal Sciences and Louisiana 4-H, talks with students in his beef production class while observing gray Brahman cattle during a visit to the AgCenter Doyle Chambers Central Research Station in Baton Rouge. Students, from left, are animal science majors Elisa Preston, Ashlyn Brewer and Seth Manuel. Photo by Olivia McClure

3/6/2024 7:43:06 PM
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