The Barzona is a smooth, long bodied, well balanced, medium size beef animal. Actual mature size varies somewhat with the environment. The Barzona is distinguishable by its longish head and may be either horned or polled. They are generally medium red, but color may vary from dark to light red, with occasional white on the underline or switch. Barzonas possess a high degree of herd instinct and are curious and intelligent, but quiet and easy to handle.
The infusion of Africander blood into the Barzona gene pool has much to do with the breed’s exceptional hardiness. A native African breed, the Africander dates back to the 15th century. It is known for feet and legs built to handle rough country, an ability to utilize a high level of browse, and wild type grazing, as well as heat tolerance and insect and disease resistance. Today’s Barzona exhibits all these traits, plus the ability to grow thicker hair in colder climates.
Barzona calves are exceptionally hardy, exhibiting high vigor and a bred-in will to live at birth. Pinkeye and cancer eye are almost non-existent in the breed due to their dark pigmentation and deeper eye set.
Perhaps it is because they were developed in one of the most rugged and demanding areas of the country that Barzonas have proven themselves to be an exceptionally adaptable breed. Starting in the mountain and desert regions, this hardy breed has moved across the country, from the snows of the Northwest to the grasslands of the Midwest, to the swamps of the Southeast.
Cattlemen in the desert regions of the West like their ability to travel great distances from water and survive on rough, lowly palatable forages. In the north country they find that they adapt easily to freezing temperatures and severe weather, even at calving time. In the South they utilize the native browse to maximum advantage and have proven highly resistant to the onslaught of insects, parasites and hot temperatures.
The Barzona is definitely a “no frills” breed, requiring less care and expensive inputs than other breeds. The moderate sized females produce more pounds of calf per cow at less expense and throughout a longer, more productive lifetime. They are also naturally disease and parasite resistant, requiring less vet care and medication.
Fertility and Calving Ease
Barzona females tend to be fertile, breeding as yearlings to calve at two. With light birth weight, streamline shaped calves, they tend to calve easily without assistance and breed back year after year even under stressed conditions. Barzona bulls are hardy and vigorous, exemplifying high libido. They tend to reach puberty early and are useful throughout a long productive life.
On the Rail
The Barzona will hang a high yielding, Choice to Prime carcass at the most desirable market weight. The carcass is muscular and well-marbled with a high ratio of lean to fat, and high cutability. Barzonas excel in feedlot performance due to a bred-in ability to convert feed efficiently into red meat. Optimum genetic size allows them to finish at a market weight desired most by the packer and consumer, with less time on feed.
Comments from across the country…
Arizona: “I’ve never seen any cattle with Brahman in them that mature as early or are as naturally fertile as these red cows.”
Texas: “The Barzonas have excellent heat tolerance, no foot rot, and flourish on grass-pasture type operations.”
California: “Our Barzona and Barzona crosses really utilize our range. They get to places that were not grazed before we got them. During recent severe drought, they stayed in good shape while our native cattle got poor. Our Barzona crosses are big and growthy without showing the excessive sheath and loose skin that our buyers don’t like.”
Georgia: “Our Barzonas made it through the coldest, toughest winter we’ve had in many years in much better shape than our good native cattle. During our hottest weather our Barzonas are out grazing when our native cattle are lying in the shade.”
Minnesota: “Through the worst blizzard of the century (1975), the coldest Minnesota winter in 100 years (1976-77) and 2 years of severe drought, our Barzonas have performed very well. They make outstanding mother cows with minimal calving problems, no pinkeye or foot rot, are very resistant to insects and parasites, and do it all on sub-marginal pastures.”
Central Arizona Feedlot Operator: “The cattle gain well and convert their feed better than most breeds. Barzonas can be finished for slaughter at popular weights without forfeiting carcass grade. They are very efficient in the feedlot and several meat packers have told me they do everything expected of them and then some.”
New Mexico: “These bulls really cover the country and get our cows bred better than any bulls we’ve ever had. I’ve never seen a sore-footed Barzona.”
Southern Utah: “Our Barzonas utilize our range better than any cattle we’ve ever had. They leave the bottoms, get up higher and
get into rougher places. In hard times when other cows almost dry up, these red cows somehow keep milking enough to
keep their calves growing and come back to milk production when conditions improve. I like their temperament – we
can handle more Barzona cows with less help.”