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The Cattle and Livestock Thread

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posted on Apr, 12 2018 @ 08:18 AM
We have a great thread on chickens, ducks and turkeys here, so I wondered if there might be some interest in a thread about raising cattle and livestock.

As many here know we (my wife and I) raise cattle, Belted Galloways to be exact. We're what I would consider a small cow-calf operation meaning we have a small herd of cattle which produces calves every year. We are principally a beef cattle operation, and have been doing this for many years.

Not being sure how much detail to go into, because I'm not sure how much interest there is in this subject, I'll just provide some brief background and we'll see where things go from there.

We basically started from scratch. We didn't start on an established cattle ranch so we had to build everything from square one starting with one 80 acre parcel of land. Then came the installation of miles of fencing, both perimeter fencing and interior fencing. The construction of corrals, livestock handling facilities (crowding tubs, alleys and chutes), barns, loafing sheds and the like came next. Getting started took about two years of some pretty back breaking labor, both with day jobs to boot. Over the years we've expanded, adding more land as time and money permitted, and at the same time we've also contracted (got smaller) at times. We started with 3 cows and a prize bull.

As noted, we raise Belted Galloways which are a strain of the Galloway breed. Galloways are one of the oldest breeds in North America originating in the Galloway region of Scotland during the 17th century. Galloways are full sized animals, not to be confused with some of the other heritage brands of mini-cattle like Lowlines and Dexters. The average bull weighs about 1,900-2,000 lbs at maturity (Jack, our herd bull is about 2,200), and cows weigh approximately 1,400-1,500 lbs.

Galloways are one of the heartiest and healthiest breeds of cattle, easily able to deal with the freezing Colorado winters with their double coat. Galloways also have several other attributes which are very attractive. First, they are a naturally 'poled' breed, meaning they do not have horns which need to be removed. Horns on cattle are not only a nuisance, they're also very dangerous when working with the animals. Galloways seldom get sick so veterinary needs are very limited with this breed. Probably one of the biggest attributes about Galloways is their feed to weight ratio. Galloways are able to process feed about 30-35% more efficiently than most other breeds, so they require less feed to reach the same weight as other cattle. The only trade out for this feed advantage is time to maturity (because nothing is truly "free"). Galloways take longer to reach weight than other breeds, but to us this is an acceptable trade. To put this trade into perspective, it can mean having to "winter-over" a Galloway when another breed may not need to do this (so there's the cost of the feed for winter).

We breed our cattle generally in late May to early June so we wind up with calves in late March to early April. The gestation period for a Galloway cow is 9 months just like a human. We just calved for 2018, thankfully all without incident (Galloways are pretty good this way). So now our days are filled with keeping track of calves who have a habit of getting separated from Momma for a variety of reasons. In fact, just this morning we had to rescue an 'escapee' who likely rolled under the fence into a different pasture last night and couldn't figure out how to get back to Momma. He's now happily enjoying his morning 'milkshake' compliments of his Mom.

The average day starts around 3:30am with feeding (and tracking everyone the dark). Then we each get to go to our "day jobs". Ranch life resumes around 4-5pm when we return whereupon we get to do the whole feeding and tracking everyone down thing again. We usually water at night because this is not the most pleasant thing to do when it's -25 below zero outside in the mornings. Plus things are less frozen in the evenings than they are in the mornings. By about 8:30pm yours truly is usually ready to hit the do it all again tomorrow.

People always ask why I ever wanted to do this (and often if I'm crazy). The truth is an interesting story (to me anyway), but I'll leave that for another time. In the meantime, suffice to say I love the lifestyle, the hard work and most of all the animals.

I'd love to hear stories others have about raising livestock (not only cattle). I am also happy to answer any questions people may have.


posted on Apr, 12 2018 @ 08:31 AM
Me Maw raises cattle in a similar fashion to you, but with her ill health in recent years and age getting on, plus periods of drought and flood, cattle duffers, she's looking to wind down. She better not sell off the ones of mine I got in her lot!

I FREAKING LOVE BELTED GALLOWAYS! I'd love to have one. I see them here in Australia but I feel bad for them with the heat.

I love love Charolais too, beautiful ! Also, feel bad about the heat and the UV exposure.

And me Highland Coos.

We have/had Droughtmasters X, Limosins, Santas, Herefords, Murray Greys, Angus, Brahmans (really nice nature ours have, also good for our climate) Jerseys, Illawarra Red Roans and my first coo Nettie, a friesian x.

Here's my Nettie nearly 11 years ago with her first baby, Pearl, who was sired by the most wonderful, down to earth, friendly and chillaxed bull Ben - a purebred Illawarra

posted on Apr, 12 2018 @ 08:36 AM
a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

When you say -25, is that F or C? Sounds kinda cold to me to be leaving animals outside but judging by the hair, I guess they are built for it.

Wiki says:
"It is thought that the breed count is lower than 10,000 cattle worldwide, most of them in Northern Europe, specifically Scotland. The breed is 'rare' in the United States and the Livestock Conservancy classifies it as a breed to 'watch'."

Angus seems all the rage at the moment in the food chain. In reference to your previous threads, how's your hand doing now? I read they busted it up pretty bad for you. Cows are strange animals. All I know is you don't want to get in the way when they have babies. I am scared of any animal that is multiple times my body weight and in a hurry.

posted on Apr, 12 2018 @ 08:45 AM
a reply to: LightSpeedDriver

There's no way that figure could be right? I've seen Galloway stud parks dotted around the place in my travels, not to mention at agricultural shows.

Waygu beef is now becoming very popular with "foodies" too.

Sometimes though, you need to be on hand to help the cows give birth, to save both lives (or three lives!) or at least one.

Our Violet had a really really bad first birth, we tried all we could, and when the vet finally came out to help hours later, poor calf was born sleeping.

posted on Apr, 12 2018 @ 08:50 AM
a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

I always thought Belted Galloways are pretty, sensible cows. They became more popular around here for a few years and then they all disappeared and folks went back to Angus, Simmentals, Herefords and various crosses of those three. I don't know why. Kind of disappointed, they brightened the landscape and they weren't so ornery (IMO).

I have thought about getting a few to raise our own meat, but I live on top of a mountain and I really don't know anything about raising a cow. Most of my flat land is taken up by horses and I would need a seriously weather resistant cow that still thrives and puts on weight in rough terrain and can make through my mistakes. Oh, and that isn't an asshole. So fat chance I guess. I can do sheep though. I want Katahdins. I hate shearing and I have no use for wool.

posted on Apr, 12 2018 @ 09:03 AM
a reply to: LightSpeedDriver

Interesting question. Yes, I would say Galloways, particularly Belted Galloways, are a relatively rare breed in North America. I know we have to really look around for suitable genetics, whereas if we ran Angus I could find tens of thousands of examples locally. I think part of this has to do with the beef industry and time to maturity. The for-profit cattle business is a pretty cut-throat market where every step along the way has to be optimized for speed. Galloways don't fit into this model well, but the quality of the beef is far beyond that of commercial beef cattle (including Angus).

I could write an entire book on the whole "Angus Beef" craze. Suffice to say, it's not all it's represented to be, and this is due to a really quirky ruling back in the 1900's. It's actually quite comical...if it wasn't so real. Don't get me wrong, Angus is good beef (not as good as Galloway of course), certainly when compared to some of the other crap (and I mean "crap" too, flavorless terrible meat) that shows up on the grocery store shelves.

We're starting to see more of a resurgence of Galloway cattle of late. More and more breeders are showing up. We''re trying to do our part to bring this fantastic breed back to the forefront. I guess we'll just have to see what happens.

BTW...yes the hand is healed up now, thanks for asking. That was kind of a bad deal for quite a while. Really debilitating injury having a hand hurt, because you just keep re-injuring it over and over so it never heals. It's like a foot, takes forever to heal. Anyway, it's better now. I've moved on now to other injuries...LOL!

posted on Apr, 12 2018 @ 09:09 AM
a reply to: redhorse

... and I would need a seriously weather resistant cow that still thrives and puts on weight in rough terrain and can make through my mistakes. ...

That IS the Galloway! Best animal on the planet for marginal pasture.

Oh, and temperament wise, Galloways are one of the most docile breeds there are. Oh sure, you'll get a "hot" one every now and then, but I can walk right out into the pasture with our herd bull in with the cows and he'll come over and eat cookies from my hand just like the girls will. He's like a great big puppy dog...a GREAT BIG one! With any animal that big though (bulls especially) you always need to keep your eye on them, but from an overall calmness factor Galloways have to be near the top of the list. Longhorns are a lot that way too. Great big horns, but puppy dogs inside.

posted on Apr, 12 2018 @ 09:12 AM
a reply to: auroraaus

Yeah Waygu is popular (it's the 'Kobe" breed), and Galloway beef ranks right up there with Waygu for marbling, tenderness and flavor. This is actually why we raise them. Galloway also commands a much higher price than just about every other beef except for maybe Waygu (where we're about tied lately).

posted on Apr, 12 2018 @ 09:39 AM
a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

Funnily enough, I read the whole (Black?) Angus hype and as you say, it is a name, little more. I just googled the Belted part of Galloway and was surprised by their appearance. In hindsight the name is logical. Ahem!

Cute when small but when adult I wouldn't want to be too close for (my own) comfort! Unfortunately farming has turned into this homogenised, regulated, standard, boring run-of-the-mill BS. I believe in diversity (plus beef is my favourite meat!) and genetics are key. Apparently they (Galloways) have quite the history and this is a good thing. I wish you much luck and believe only too well that their meat is superior than what is available in supermarkets. Real farmers are a breed apart and they seem to be now, unfortunately, in the minority. Commercial pressures, et al are not good for the market imho.

Glad to hear that your hand is good but you have new wounds to suffer. You know what I mean...

edit on 12/4/18 by LightSpeedDriver because: Correction

posted on Apr, 12 2018 @ 09:59 AM
a reply to: LightSpeedDriver

Heh, some people call them "police car cows". That, or "Oreo cows".

The do work good as 'pature art' though!

posted on Apr, 12 2018 @ 10:52 AM
Belted Galloways are nice looking cattle. Good for rough ground, and hardy when it gets cold, on account of their double coat.

I have a mate who has a small holding in Wales and has a handful of these, alongside Dexter cattle. I think if I was going into this I would go for a smaller breed, like Dexter, mainly because they are easier to handle. That said, the Belted G is not that big.

posted on Apr, 12 2018 @ 11:09 AM
a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

My Family raised Texas Longhorn and Hereford cattle for a few generations between North Texas/Oklahoma and SE Colorado. While I personally don't have much experience in cattle myself I used to love to go work my Grandfathers ranch outside Amarillo when I was a kid. My great grandfather worked on the Bradley 3 Ranch in Texas which was a comprised of old XIT ranch land. XIT ranch was the largest ever ranch in the US I believe.

While most of the ranch land is gone now he was smart enough to keep the mineral rights....But that's a whole other story!!

posted on Apr, 12 2018 @ 11:11 AM
You sound like the guy we get our half cow from every year. He raises Limosines though. I like eating beef that live in the pastures more than the beef in the stores. Ours is certified grass fed tastes the same as it did before he got that certification because their diet did not change. Our price went up about two hundred bucks for the half though, basically because it costs him about that for the inspections and extra fees to the government and certifying agency. That cost is also partly from the slaughter house because they had to switch some of their chemicals and wrappings to meet standards, they actually gained a little more business though by this move. It only amounted to a couple of cents a pound hanging weight.

If a cow is fed right and hung long and is of a slower growing variety, I am happy with the meat. The cow should be over two years old when it is slaughtered. Actually two years two months or more is the best. So if this is a slow growing variety than the disruptive hormone chemistry in the meat is not nearly as bad since it is older when slaughtered.

A diet rich on grasses is great, I am not against grain finishing, but I do prefer the full grassfed taste, probably because I like it hung for two weeks. The finished beef is best at around nine or ten days texture wise but the beefy flavor is not fully developed.

That is my preference, some people do not like meat that is dry aged the old fashioned way. Also, the liver on grass fed beef is much better tasting than on grain fed. Been buying a half or whole cow or steer every year for around thirty years now. I don't like highly grain fed beef. I don't care for the angus beef, I don't mind an angus cross but not with the Hereford cow. For being grassfed, our beef does have a little fat, the cows get up and run around. I have seen some very unhealthy cows at the 4H auctions at the fair occasionally, some of them are grain fed totally, they just don't have the energy they should have. I bought one of those one time, too fatty. Pretty looking animal but I would never buy another one of those again, it was a Hereford Angus cross....bad combo. I like good beef. The type of cow is important to me as is the diet and way it is aged.

posted on Apr, 16 2018 @ 06:19 PM
Most beef tasters cannot reliably tell the difference between an Angus and a Hereford ribeye.

The reason that "registered Angus" is a thing, is because:

A) it was marketed as a big deal by the meat packers. Registered Angus means it has a proven bloodline, which is owned by specific producers. If you are an aspiring cattleman, you cannot get into the business without spending some major bank. The producers tightly control the supply, which means they can manipulate the price-point for maximum profit to them, rather than to the meatpacker.

B). Angus beeves have a square-butt carcass, which makes the butchering more efficient. So it saves effort for the meat packer.

For what it's worth, the best steak you'll find is the meat from the inside of the "T" (the tenderloin) of a Hereford T-bone steak. The bone helps the meat cook and remain tender.

Beginning in the eighties ribeye and New York or KC strip out-marketed the T-bone, and it is no longer as sought after by consumers. The T-bone is best grilled with the bone in, and grilling is less popular with the public. NY strip and ribeye can be pan-fried, which is more popular in the eastern US, and easier for restaurants that don't specialize in steak.

When I was young and ranching, the saying was "the sizzle sells the steak; the steak sells the cow." Now it's mostly ground beef that sells.

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