Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Cull Cows

          The day after the market animals left it was time lighten the farm of a few more animals that would eventually find their way to more dinner plates: the cull cows. The market animals that were sent out the day before were juicy steak level that would make the best cuts and highest quality meat. Cull cows are animals that have been on the farm for a number of years and having calves of their own.  For various reasons these animals are now no longer useful or productive so they need to be sold and removed from the herd. We decided to sell our animals at a local auction where buyers would purchase them and take them to market. These animals will be made into meat, but mostly hamburger and other lower quality cuts due to the age of the animal. No animals are wasted.
          Mary and I got to accompany Paul on this journey. We had never been to a cattle auction before. We were a little worried that they old farm truck might not make it with the big load. We had two mature bulls, and five fattened cows in tow. It was a bit of a slow trip but we made it.
          Our first animal to go through the ring our Hereford bull who had gotten arthritis in his hind foot. A bull with bad back legs is no good for breeding, so his usefulness was done. Bye Big Guy.
       Next though the ring was a few cows from our herd. Some we had decided to sell due to bad or non-functioning udders, which they need to be able to nurse their calf. Others times it has been because the cow didn't get bred for that year and her purpose is to produce a calf each year. Sometimes it might just be because the animal is mean and aggressive towards us with her calf.  It is dangerous and not worth it to have a animal that might hurt you or others on the farm.
         The saddest moment for Paul was our last animal through the ring; his bull Donut. Paul bought Donut only last year and this spring we got lots of little cute Donut babies. So why sell him? Every spring, before breeding season starts we have the veterinarian come and semen check all the bulls. We need to make sure that the bull still has all the "stuff" he needs to get the job done during the summer breeding months. Well, donut came up blank. After two different checks it was decided that Donut was sterile and therefore destined for the auction block and ultimately market. There are a number of things that might of caused Donuts sterility: a virus, frozen testicles, or an injury. We will never know the cause and it was a hit to the pocketbook to see him go after only one useful year.
          Mary and I enjoyed our time together and our trip home was with a much lighter trailer and nice check in our pocket. Thanks cows!

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