Sunday, September 20, 2009

Calves and critiques

I haven't taken many photos of the cattle this summer. Mostly because I was really preoccupied with the dogs and sheep this spring, but now have more time to 'think' about my cattle.

While I was away at Jefferson, the cattle decided it was time to come home and my dad found them in our front yard!

When I came home it was really my first time examining the entire herd that was in our Northern Pasture. When the calves came from around the corner my jaw just dropped! The calves were JUST spectacular!! Shiny coats, wonderful muscling, gorgeous conformation and just STYLE STYLE STYLE! Our shorter days makes it harder for me to take photos of them without the gold hue to the animals, which doesn't really show off their true color or physique.

I have two older heifers that REALLY caught my eye. a black baldy and a red baldy. Upon looking online they have the same sire, and their mothers are mother/daughter so they are quite related and only different in color! Photos i promise soon! The best part is their EPDs are just stacked! The black baldy is in the top 15-25% of the BREED for her traits. The Red Baldy is in the top 20-35%. I have typically had herd averages above the 50% breed average./

There are two solid black bulls, a solid red bull and a black goggle faced bull that are also very stunning. I can't decide who to keep as we sold all of our homegrown bulls this spring in anticipation of the new bull I had purchased. It turned out he was sterile so I didn't have to pay for him.

In light of that, we had no purebred Simmental bulls at home to use, or any local breeders to call on. We ended up renting a Red Angus bull to cover our cows. Although he is a nice deep cherry red color, all of the calves will be commercial calves next year. The Simmental x Angus and Simmental x Red Angus crosses are the biggest sellers now on the market, so I feel I can recoop quite a bit of expense next year by going with the crosses.

That is why I'm needing to retain several bull prospects. In the past we kept a spotted bull, a red bull and a black bull for our three herds. With our continually decling cattle herd, we dont' feel the need to keep three bulls to use for breeding, maybe one or two. We WILL be keeping 4 over the winter though.....three to butcher next spring and one to use for breeding :)

While I do have time to decide who to use for breeding, registration fees increase exponentially every month after they are 6 months old. A yearling bull would cost around 150 dollars to register. That's just not an option for me. I need to decide NOW.

I am very much in to the EPDs as well as the structure and temperament of the animals. While I love one of the solid black bulls conformation, his temperament and his pedigree, and he does have the most perfect head (I'm a sucker for a beautiful head!). Unfortunately he suffers in the EPDs (Expected Progeny Data....things like Calving ease, birth weights, weaning weights, milk, carcass traits, etc) and the other bulls excel more in the EPDs. I sometimes get lucky if I do my homework and find one that excels in both EPDs and conformation AND temperament :)

Photos soon. I need to stop gushing over them!

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