Some pictures of our cattle and sheep this summer and fall. The first five are our cows and calves grazing diverse summer pastures. Pictures 6 and 7 are some grass finished beeves, and the last is a picture of some lamb wethers finishing on pasture joined by the ram.
When selecting cattle, there are many factors to consider in order to produce the best grassfed beef that we can. The most important is the cattle that we work with. We have chosen the Belted Galloway and Angus breeds to use, but our selections do not end there. There is great variety within any breed as far as types of animals. We select for smaller framed, 1,000-1,200 lb cows that stay fat on grass alone. The cows need to be fertile, good mothers and live a long time. That will give us one calf per year from each cow for many years. The calves need to grow well, be vigorous, finish from 18-24 months with well marbled, flavorful beef. All of the animals need a calm disposition. Selecting for these traits improves the herd, allowing us to produce our best grassfed beef.
Our cow herd consists of Belted Galloway, Angus and a few crosses of the two breeds. Our bulls are below. The Beltie bull we have used for three years and our Angus bull is new this winter.
Here are a couple of our cows with the form that we are aiming for.
Here are a couple of the calves born in the fall of 2012. Pictures were taken in the summer of 2013. The first is a purebred Beltie and the second is a Beltie x Angus.
We enjoy learning more as we grow and improve our herd of cattle. Breeding for better cattle is one way we improve our grassfed beef and strengthen our business.
We finished the fencing at the new farm we are leasing and have begun grazing the stockpiled grasses. We have 20 steers and heifers, some about a year old and some almost two. The two year old's will be beef this spring, while the yearlings will finish this fall and next spring. This farm is where we are going to focus on the grass finishing. We are able to easily set up small temporary paddocks for rotational grazing. Right now we are moving the cattle every other day. We also will experiment with seeding some annuals to extend the grazing periods. We would like to work toward a year round finishing program.
We have our flock of sheep at this farm as well. While it is currently a small flock, we have plenty of room to grow. Our 12 bred ewes will lamb in April. We are hoping for lots of twins! Storm is our guard dog on duty. She has taken to the sheep and guards them vigilantly.
We have moved our few Tennessee Fainting goats to this farm and are looking to acquire a few females to breed some meat goats. Although not the most popular in this country, goat meat is a healthy and tasty meat, and we get the occasional request for it.