Red Poll (Photo credit: Nick Saltmarsh)
Red Poll Cattle are one of many breeds that are known as Heritage Breeds. Heritage Breeds are typically breeds that are declining in number because they are not the main stream commercial cattle. Many of them have their own niche, such as grass fed beef. Many are also dual purpose animals. Their value is great, perhaps not measurable in dollar amounts, but more in their value for preserving genetic diversity.
Red Poll cattle are a cross between the Norfolk and Suffolk breeds of quality of its beef. They were small, red and white, hardy and horned breed of cattle. Suffolk cattle were a dairy breed that were Red, yellow, and brindle in color. They were a polled breed. Through genetic selection and cross breeding of the two breed, the Red Poll was developed. The traits of Red Poll cattle that make them excel are many of those of the above breeds. Perhaps obvious, but they are a smaller, red and polled breed of cattle.
According to the American Livestock Breed Conservancy, the breed was imported to North America in the 1800s. In 1883, the American Red Poll Association was founded. I am not certain of the numbers nor the membership, but I can state that my farm is registered herd #6500. My herd was registered earlier this year. (I have to laugh a bit to say herd, as we have three heifers that just calved within the past two months.)
The cross resulted in a nice dual purpose breed. Throughout the years, Red Poll cattle have fluctuated from a dairy focus to a beef focus several times. At one point, Red Polls were efficient and competitive dairy cows. This was very evident on farms that tracked total profits above and beyond the cost of feed only. This is likely due to their ability to convert forage into production. They are also known for longevity, often producing 10,000 pounds of milk per year into their teen years. An added benefit of this longevity is that they continue to produce calves into their later years as well.
English: 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)
One of the highlights of the breed are their reproductive traits. Red Poll bulls are very potent. Their traits are predictable and easily inherited. Red Poll females tend to be very fertile and are easy breeders. They are known for calving ease. Red Poll cattle produce a large amount of milk even on forage. This results in good calf growth. They are noted for good survivability of the calf. I saw one study where they were the top producing breed in terms of Rate of gain to day 200. This has to do with good rates of gain, great calving ease, and the survivability of the calf (calf vigor).
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
I am looking for topic suggestions and feedback.
What would you like to hear about?
What posts or threads have you enjoyed the most?
What areas are you interested in?
Ideas are organic farming, beef cattle breeding and management, grass fed programs, heritage breeds of animals, chicken information, how to articles.
I am also looking for potential guest bloggers that would like to contribute periodically for the fun of it.
Let me know in the comments section. Thanks in advance!
I got inspired by the post below, so I thought it appropriate to share my thoughts about earth day.
A HISTORY OF EARTH DAY
At the beginning of creation, God created the heavens and the earth. He created water, light, plants, animals and mankind. Male and female he created them to dwell in the garden of Eden. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, setting in motion the decline of man and the need for a Savior. God challenged man to work the earth and to care for it and His creatures.
It is with this backdrop that I pause to appreciate His creation on this Earth Day 2012. I feel that Earth Day has become more of a reason to celebrate the earth itself rather than the Creator of both the heaven ans the earth. We focus on recycling and not leaving a carbon footprint or inprint or whatever print it is that we are supposed to limit. Why not love the Creator and take care of what He has created (plants, animals, and fellow man) everyday? I try to make it so that I live life, yet not abuse that around me.
We have chosen over the past few years to limit our intake of things that may harm our bodies, and in turn may harm the earth.
We have tried to cut out genetically modified corn products.
We have tried to eliminate other GMO products as well.
We raise grass fed beef and free rang chickens. We do this to lessen the impact that our farm has on our environment, but also to provide a safe and nutritious end product for ourselves and our consumers.
We raise organic vegetables in our garden. This is again to focus more in the end product, but also reduces our strain on the environment.
We burn our garbage, in an attempt to lessen the waste that ia headed into landfills.
We feed our leftover food to the chickens, creating less waste in the end.
We compost yard waste, which inturn becomes healthy compost for our organic vegetables.
We burn wood through the winter, so that we utilize less propane. This lets us trade a renewable energy source (wood) for a non renewable fossil-type fuel.
So I ask that you pause to consider the amazing creation that ia around. God gave it to us to use, but also to care for. This should be our calling. Worship the Creator first and then care for and cherish His creation
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