Prestige or Profit?

Prestige or Profit?

Prestige or Profit? 150 150 Luke Bowman

The quote below was shared with Luke by Dr. Bob Hough. Bob is the author of many great and important beef breed books. Interestingly enough, he is the co-author of the 2021 book, “Shorthorn and the American Cattle Industry” with Dr. Bert Moore.

This quote, written in 1875, is a telling excerpt from an upcoming piece Dr. Hough is working on. It is likely hard to comprehend if you are relatively new to the cattle business. However, if you’re an experienced stockman you’ve likely seen what is stated below and can agree that it is pretty on par for even today’s world.

“We are met here at the very outset by the advocates of blood and those of selection. Much may be said and volumes have been written in favour of both. My experience leads me to take a middle course between the two, and to keep in view both the one and the other. With respect to the qualifications of a successful breeder, Darwin writes: ‘Not one man in a thousand has accuracy of eye and judgment sufficient to become an eminent breeder. If gifted with these qualities, and he studies the subject for years, and devotes his lifetime to it with indomitable perseverance, he will succeed and make great improvements; and if he wants any of these qualities he will assuredly fail.’ Darwin’s view will be found pretty correct. Many breed with a certain success, and even rush to the top for a time in the show-yard, but it is only those described by Darwin who will finally succeed. In laying the foundation of a breeding stock there is generally one of two objects in view: either, first, to raise up a herd the best of its race, with a view to competition in the show-yard and to improve it to the utmost; or, second, to breed commercial cattle for commercial purposes with the greatest possible profit. The first requires independent means; and, to secure success, skill, perseverance, and patience under heavy disappointments. The second can be attained by ordinary prudence. ”

(1875 book, Cattle and Cattle-Breeders, by William McCombie, Tillyfour)


The registered cattle industry is generally ruled by a class that is called into the realm of cattle breeding and production where key decisions are made as a result of some kind of promotion, commotion, devotion, or emotion. But it is the commercial man, and often times the serious registered breeder that is solidly focused on commercial viability, that follows the findings of practicality, sustainability and profitability.