Kids call him Donut
With the hope that spring is around the corner, here on the farm we are planning for the next breeding season. My husband Paul and my father have been increasing our cattle heard over the last few years as my husband has gotten more involved. It is a gradual proses and one of the limiting factors in our area is the availability of pasture land during the summer months. This coming summer we have gotten the chance to rent a new pasture to us. This is great for increasing the heard size but brings up the need for another bull to be in that pasture.
Paul is excited because ofter much looking and debating they found the right one. Here is Paul explaining what was involved in choosing this bull.
Before we started our search for a bull, we first needed to write down a “job description” for our new prospect in the herd. Although it may seem obvious what his job is on the farm, we don’t just want a bull, we want the right bull. We use artificial insemination (AI) on many of our top quality cows that then produce replacement females for our herd. Through the use of AI, we are able to get the highest quality sire (father) for the price we determine. Also, we don’t have to feed him throughout the year, we just have to keep the liquid nitrogen in the semen tank full! For those cows that do not settle (get pregnant), we want to be sure that they are bred to produce a calf for the following year. For that reason, we need a herd bull. We know that an AI bull can be worth tens of thousands of dollars but we are not able to pay that much, since his ‘genetic footprint’ will only be in our herd. We determined that we wanted our bull to have the following traits:- Fast growing! This bull’s calves will likely find their way to the feedlot to produce beef for you, the consumer.
- Big weight at one year of age! Our calves are usually sold to market at 14 months of age. More pounds = more money.
- Will make calves with black hair! Sounds crazy but consumers pay a premium for cattle with black hair (it can be sold as Certified Angus Beef).
- No potential for horns! Horns are not safe for the surrounding animals or our family.
- Be a good price! We have to make money to keep farming for years to come.
The bull we selected meets all of these criteria and then some. We found out that he is very calm, which is an important trait since we don’t have ranch cattle like some of our cattle friends in Montana. Our animals feed on grassed areas that are too rough to farm in an environmentally friendly manner. Animals in our pastures come in more contact with humans and we will often keep them in with a few strands of wire that has a small electrical warning shock (it feels like sticking your tongue on a 9 volt battery. You remember it, but it doesn’t create long term harm). The bull we selected has genetic potential for higher calving weights. Because we know this, we will not use him to breed our younger cattle in the herd. The older cows are able to pass a calf that is a few pounds heavier because they have already had a calf.
We determined that we would be looking for a Simmental and Angus crossed bull this year. We decided to go with a local cattle breeder that I worked with in high school who is known nationally for his quality genetics. We first looked at the catalog online. After evaluating the bulls who had the resume of traits we were seeking, we decided to technology interview the bulls by watching their videos online. After we had the bulls narrowed down even more, we decided to go out to the farm to observe them first hand since they were so close.
We are very excited to bring our bull home this spring and see his calves next spring!