Spring is Coming, I Think
Spring finally seems like it's trying to arrive. The weather is slowly warming and the green grass is trying to grow. Last week I received a question from Laura asking about cattle breeds and I thought it would be a good opportunity to touch on why we run Black Angus cattle. Before I get to that I want to let you get a quick update on Will.
Will is still in the corral with his mother and still walks on his knuckles. It seems like he can see some, though I am still unsure about how much. He does look like he is growing and he is super friendly and sweet. I took Lorelei to see him the other day and she LOVED him. He thought that maybe he could get some milk from her coat and Lorelei thought that was hilarious. Hopefully he keeps growing and getting better.
As for why we run Black Angus, we haven't always. In my lifetime, it has pretty much been black cows, but we had a lot of red baldies and still have black baldies from when everything we had was Herefords. If you don't know what a Hereford looks like, they are mostly red with a white face and white on the top of there neck and belly including the udder. Both of these are British breeds which means they can tolerate the cold better than a breed like Brahman.
This is the major reason for choosing these breeds, they are suited to our environment. This is not to say that Galloways, Simmental, Irish Black or another breed could not handle this environment, but Black Angus also has the benefit of being THE major breed in the United States. This gives us more options to choose from when it comes to buying bulls. The reason they are so dominant is that they are good at many aspects: they grow and perform well, their temperament allows them to be handled with relative ease, and they have excellent carcass quality. I have heard people say things like, "You can't walk into a corral with an Angus or they will try to run you over." I think there is a huge difference in the docility of Black Angus cows and a lot of it depends on how they are run and how they are handled.
One of the biggest reasons to stick with Herefords was their docility. They are very gentle to be around, but we quit buying Hereford bulls because the white skin around the eyes and on the udder caused a lot of issues. Herefords are more likely to get pink eye and cancer eye than a cow with dark pigment around their eyes. Their udders will sunburn and they won't let their calves suckle because it's too painful until it's healed. My father has talked about how they used to have to rope the cows and put Bag Balm on their udders so they would heal. We still have some black baldies and the baldy part comes from the white-faced Herefords, but they are becoming fewer and fewer.
While Black Angus don't have these issues, they aren't without their drawbacks. One of these is high altitude disease (brisket disease), which I have briefly touched on before and will get into in greater depth in another post. Basically, some breeds of cattle are better at surviving at high altitudes, but angus struggle. To combat this, we have started buying bulls that are tested to have lower pulmonary arterial pressure (PAP) and it has helped.
We sometimes debate crossbreeding again for the added growth and fertility that comes with hybrid vigor. As a matter of fact, we even have a few SimAngus cows (Simmental/Angus cross) from trying a little bit of cross breeding. But we have been sticking with angus because there is still a preference for Black Angus cattle. People that buy our steers and heifers from the auction still like the quality of the Black Angus breed. This leads me to my questions for you: Do you prefer Black Angus beef? Do you like it when you see people selling Angus beef as opposed to another breed or not knowing the breed? If we started selling SimAngus, Hereford/Angus, or another cross, would it matter to you? Thanks for reading and I really do appreciate your input and questions.
by Brandon Greet