cattle_07 (Photo credit: NDSU Ag Comm)
Last night we were able to put up 38 round bales of hay. This is a great start to next winter’s feed supply. Our neighbor cut, raked, tettered and baled the hay over the weekend and brought them up into the barn last night. We are excited to have a great jump start for next season. Now the challenge is to get some of the pasture eaten down by the cows that we have. We may be in the market for a few more adult animals or steers that need to finish. There is a total of about 12 acres that needs to be eaten, well more than our three adult cows will be able to eat.
We do not supplement our cattle at this time, featuring a grass fed beef program. We hope to provide good, flavorful and nutritional meat once our calves finish out. We also employ a hormone-free, organic program. (We did not certify our land organic, but sprays and chemicals are not used on our farm).
Until Next Time
Well let me start by stating that this is our first calving season, which will lead into our first breeding season.
We are evaluating which breeding program to go with. We know of several potential programs.
The first is simply pasture bull breeding. Due to the presence of young kids on the old homestead, we have not seriously considered this as an option.
The next method would be a timed breeding program , which would require hue use of prostaglandins and follicle stimulating hormones. Seeing that we are trying to go with a hormone free program, this is off the table as well. So what should we do?
The best breeding programs are reliant on heat detection. This can be noted through observation or left to the bull if one is around. The issue facing most farmers is that they are too busy to simply sit on the fence and watch for evidence of heat. These behaviors include increased walking activity, mounting behavior, and willingness to be mounted. Typically a cow that is willing to be mounted is ready to be bred, the cow doing the mounting is about 12 hours away.
I think that we are going to go with some kind of marker-type system. This can be a simple as tail chalking. This method uses chalk to mat the hair over the tailhead down. Once the animal is mounted, the hair stands up, so that it is evident that she is in heat. Another form of the marker system is called a Kamar pak. This is a dye pack that is fixed to the tailhead region. Once the animal is mounted, the dye pack is broken and changes color to alert you to the presence of a breedable heat.
After compiling the above from the vast knowledge contained within my head (Said with tongue in cheek sarcasm), I found the following website, which may be more helpful.
I found this to be a great resource. It is organized well and goes through the possible management systems that are available.
Red Poll cow, Temple Newsam. Home Farm, Temple Newsam, is the largest Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) Approved Centre. Significant breeding groups of livestock from the RBST Watchlist are kept at Home Farm. This is one of a herd of Red Poll cattle, and there are 8 other breeds of cattle kept here. See http://www.leeds.gov.uk/templenewsam/farm/farm_live.html (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I was talking to a local farmer today about our small herd. He asked if we were raising beef cattle or dairy. My response to this is usually that we are raising Red Poll cattle. The common retort from people is that we have Red Angus cattle with no horns. I explain that the breed is called Red Poll. That is the name of the breed and that my cattle are registered. They then begin to ask about them, so I explain that they are a heritage breed of cattle that are very good at foraging. They are known for good milk production and have been bred more for grass fed beef.
I then explain that we are believers in grass fed beef and are trying to capture like-minded people within our niche market. To my surprise, this farmer began to tell me how his son is producing grass fed beef for a restaurant in Wisconsin, where he currently resides. They are looking for any and all grass fed beef. This immediately gave me some hope for our products. Though I do not necessarily want to sell the grass fed beef to a distant market, it is nice to know that one exists.
So this got me to thinking: is there an increasing demand fir grass fed beef, or do I simply perceive an increased demand because I am a recent covert? So I began to look into it. I did the common research technique known as ” Google it.” Here is what I found with some links:
This article highlighted the growing demand for natural or sustainable beef production. The author discusses that Walmart and McDonalds are even getting in on the movement. She mentions that grass fed beef is no longer just offered in high end restaraunts. In fact the trend has moved more and more mainstream. She also mentions several books about the subject matter such as: “Food, Inc.,” “Eating Animals,” “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” “Animal Factory” and “CAFO.” Those are some titles that perhaps we will read and do a review at some point.
This article. blog talks about the benefits of grassfed beef. These benefits include:
- Lower levels of unhealthy fats
- Higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Lower levels of dietary cholesterol
- Offers more vitamins A , Vitamin E and Antioxidants.
- Twice the levels of conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, isomers, which may have cancer fighting properties and lower the risk of diabetes and other health problems.
- These statistics were gathered by the author from a report in the Nutrition Journal.
So in summary, there appears to be a greater awareness of the benefits of grass fed beef. These benefits are nutritional, as can be noted above. Other benefits that are linked to grass fed beef production include environmental benefits and humane benefits for the animals themselves. Those are both a discussion for another time and place.
I added some additional articles that are related below. One is one of our own posts, the others are from various authors. It appears that the first one has some concerns about the sustainability of the grass fed industry due to the increased cost per pound for the meat itself.
Cover via Amazon
We just received our official papers for our heifers. We are excited about the three that we have and look forward to growing our herd. Hopefully we will have three live calves in the next 4 to 6 weeks. We will need to decide about whether or not to register them. Any heifer calves will get registered. The poor old boys will likely not as they will be destined for the freezer.
Anyway, this is a short post to highlight the Red Poll Cattle Association’s website. Our association just updated the website to allow for classified ads to be posted. This will help us market our cattle better and also make it easier to find cattle for sale. Check it out at http://www.americanredpolls.com.