August 2007
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Corrientes are Easy Keepers for Tommy Jordan And There’s Room for Growth in the Roping Steers Market

 
  After working cows most of the morning, Jordan and his family walked among one pasture of Corrientes on their farm. Pictured from left to right are daughter Racheal Scarbrough, Christy Jordan, family friend Taylor Gibson and Tommy Jordan.
By Kellie Henderson

Travelers along Sugar Hill Road in Monroe County may have noticed a herd of cattle that looks as though they’ve just stepped from the canvas of an old Spanish painting. But when Tommy Jordan looks out over his Corrientes, he sees a hobby that has proven addictive over the past 13 years.

"I was a team roper interested in raising my own roping stock, so in 1994 I bought my first Corrientes. I began to see how easy these cattle were to care for, and my 15 roping cows eventually changed into an 80 head purebred operation," said Jordan.

A Monroe County native, Tommy Jordan said he grew up around beef cattle and raised them himself for a while, but he found the Corrientes proved to be such easy keepers that it was an easy financial decision to change over to them. "I went to my first registered Corriente show in Pueblo, Colorado, in 2001 and I was hooked. At that point, I was already raising roping steers and wanted to expand my herd. I knew I didn’t have enough land for a high volume operation, so I made the decision to focus on breeding stock-quality animals as a way to generate more income from a smaller herd," he said.

 
A mature Corriente bull on Tommy Jordan’s Monroe County farm stands out in the midday sun. Jordan says a natural adaptation to heat is one of the breed’s superior traits.  
Since then Jordan has become increasingly involved in the North American Corriente Association (NACA), serving on the National Board of Directors since 2005 and becoming a nationally certified Corriente judge.

"We’ve seen our membership grow every year since I’ve been on the board, and we’ve seen growth in the numbers of registrations and transfers which tells us interest in breed development and ownership is growing. The United States has a demand for approximately 65 thousand roping steers a year and currently only 30 to 35 thousand of those are being raised in the U.S., the remainder being mainly Mexican imports. This shows there is still room for growth in the U.S. Corriente market," Jordan said.

In addition to his work with the national association, Jordan has also been working within his own operation to raise and market quality Corrientes. His success in this effort was rewarded in 2004 when one of his cows was named Grand Champion Female at a show in Wyoming.

Tommy and his wife, Christy, are proud their family has taken an interest in the breed, with 12-year-old daughter Racheal Scarbrough taking to the show ring as well. Like Tommy, Racheal has quite a trophy collection from her work with the cattle and she isn’t afraid of getting dirty while she works.

"I’m usually in the chutes when it’s time to work cows and that’s a pretty nasty job," said Racheal.

Her friend, Taylor Gibson of Excel, also enjoys working cows with them, and Tommy and Christy say they’re glad Taylor and Racheal are willing to help. "They’re better with those cows than most boys," said Tommy.

 
  One brood cow stands among several calves born earlier this year on Jordan’s farm.
Christy said her 8-year-old son, Hunter Lambeth, likes their cows too, despite the fact that he’s not yet old enough to take on the responsibility of working cattle.

In addition to their value as rodeo stock, Tommy said Corrientes have several other traits that make them attractive alternatives to traditional beef cattle.

"Corriente cattle are natural browsers, eating brush, weeds, bushes and other things a standard beef animal will not touch. And a Corriente cow with a calf will eat only 60 percent of the feed required to maintain a traditional beef cow and calf pair. And they’re fertile cattle. A 95 percent or higher calf crop is not unusual," Tommy said.

Other than the easy feeding and calving, Jordan said Corrientes have a host of secondary characteristics that make them generally worry free.

"These cattle have a natural adaptation to heat, laying in full sun when other cows are in the shade. Due to the fullness of the hair around their ears and horns and their heavy manes, Corrientes have a high tolerance to insects as well. They also have shorter tails with longer, fuller switches to combat insects. It all goes back to nature. Corrientes have retained the characteristics that allowed them to thrive in harsh conditions," said Jordan.

He adds that Corrientes are a sensible option for people with small acreage who want a cattle operation with lower maintenance.

"If someone will give them shots, wormer and something to eat, these cattle will do the rest," Tommy said.

While Tommy and his family continue to look forward to showing and marketing their cattle at the national level, they are also excited about their involvement with the Eastern Corriente Association and its show in Meridian, Mississippi, November 7–10. Tommy currently serves as president of the association and Christy is secretary/treasurer.

Kellie Henderson is a freelance writer from Troy.