History of the Crescent J Charolais

Crescent J Charolais bullIsa Cattle Company brought the Crescent J Charolais herd to Texas from Florida in 1998 in partnership with Dr. Bill Broussard, whose family was the first to import Charolais cattle into this country. Since that time, they have undergone intense selection pressure using the Six Essentials. The result is a unique and dynamic gene pool unlike any other in the Charolais breed.

Crescent J Charolais cowThe Beefmaster X Charolais cross is the blueprint for success with a terminal-sire commercial program. We are pleased to offer our customers "the best of both worlds."

Isa Cattle Company features Crescent J Charolais bulls in their annual bull sale each October.


Crescent J Herd Overcomes Turbulent Beginning

Under threat of a second world war, Jean Peugibet, a Frenchman who was a citizen of Mexico, first imported Charolais from France to North America in the 1930s. Some people believed that France feared irreversible damage to the breed if war with Germany broke out; if a viable herd were established in North America, the Charolais breed would have better chances for survival.

Several importations occurred in the 1930s. I believe the last one was in 1937, consisting of seven pregnant females. The Peugibet herd was assembled in the Mexican tropical state of Puebla, where it remained until 1952.

Peugibet Charolais herdWhen Mr. Peugibet died around 1943, Mr. Henri Gilly, another French citizen of Mexico, acquired the entire herd. From 1938 to the 1940s, several full-blood Charolais bulls were imported to the U.S. from Mexico. According to records kept by Mr. Peugibet and Mr. Gilly, no full-blood females were exported from Mexico during that time.

Around 1946, Alphe Broussard, a progressive ninth-generation cattleman and the father of William and Charles Broussard, became aware of the Charolais breed and its reputation for efficient production of high-quality beef. He purchased two crossbred Charolais bulls from Mr. Burnside of Louisiana in 1949. When he saw the results in the 1950 calf crop from these bulls, he decided to attempt acquisition of the Peugibet (now Gilly) herd from Mexico.

In May 1952, Alphe Broussard and Mr. Gilly signed a contract under which Mr. Gilly was to deliver the Charolais herd to the Flying J Ranch in Louisiana at his own expense and risk.

In September, the aftosa-caused ban on importation of Mexican cattle was lifted. All arrangements and testing of the herd by a USDA veterinarian were completed. However, in late 1952, the Mexican government announced it did not want to permit exportation of the cattle, but under arrangements made by Mr. Gilly, the cattle began crossing into the U.S. in February 1953.

After several deliveries amounting to about 68 head were completed two months later, Alphe Broussard became concerned that Mr. Gilly may not have made all the proper arrangements with U.S. Customs. At that time, there was no duty on registered stock; only a declaration of intent to import to the U.S. was necessary. Alphe, therefore, went to Washington, D.C., and met with elected representatives to inquire about the best course of action. He was directed to U.S. Customs, where he attempted to take corrective action. He also met with Mr. Pearce, Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture, to seek further advice. Mr. Pearce had known of the importation project since 1951 and was strongly supportive of it.

By the middle of 1953, word had spread quickly through the agricultural community that full-blood Charolais females had been imported into the U.S. The Broussard family suddenly faced a firestorm of unanticipated hostility. A few months later, Alphe Broussard was arrested by customs agents and charged with smuggling cattle into the U.S. The story is very convoluted; I will only say that in the opinion of his family and some of our elected officials, Alphe Broussard was railroaded and spent one year in prison. President Dwight D. Eisenhower later granted him a full pardon in 1958.

Meanwhile, political pressure mounted for the cattle to be returned to Mexico. For financial and strategic reasons, the Broussard family entered into a partnership with Mr. Max Michaelis, a dual citizen of both Mexico and the U.S. The cattle were returned to Mexico and were seized by the Mexican government. These same officials had previously seized the portion of the Gilly herd that had remained in Mexico. These problems possibly could have been avoided had the Broussard–Gilly venture been willing to pay bribes in Mexico.

After a long court fight in Mexico, approximately 102 head of full-blood Charolais were returned to Mr. Michaelis, and these cattle were moved to Texas. Around 1960, 68 head were returned to the Broussard family's Flying J Ranch.

In 1972, 24 females and three bulls of the Flying J Charolais herd were acquired by William Broussard and taken to the Crescent J Ranch in Florida. Since that time, very complete health and production records have been kept. Cattle have been selected for productivity (females must produce a good-quality calf by age 2 and annually thereafter), soundness (including udder), easy calving (acceptable birth weight), good weaning weight, good yearling weight, reasonable disposition, and confirmation. Occasional AI from outside the herd was used selectively to introduce the polled gene and to prevent extensive in-breeding.

Because of this herd's long history in tropical Mexico and subtropical Louisiana and Florida, they are very well heat-adapted. Several exportations have been made to Puerto Rico, where they are performing well.

With its storied background, this herd can reasonably be called the foundation herd for the Charolais breed in North America.

By William J. Broussard, M.D.