Falster Farm Frequently Asked Questions -- 903/629-3034
|Nancy and I spend a good bit of time answering phone or visitor inquires. We
know that your questions are important to your decision making process. That is
why we have drafted this page - to be a help to you. You may not find an answer
to all your questions, and if not, fell to call or email us.
We are not experts, we are not veterinarians, we are two people married and in love with each other and making a go of all-natural farming in a culture eaten up the artificialness, and bureaucratic rule and hypocrisy. We think what we do is so important to the future of each other and our community that we spare no effort to share our experiences and our Biblically based Christianity that is the foundation of our lives, our business affairs, and our politics.
Falster Farm and Cattle Ranch efforts at animal husbandry is broad based. We work horses, cattle for beef and raw milk, goats for meat and raw milk, chickens for eggs and meat, dog and cat for security, oh yes, and rabbits for fun. The list I've made here is the order of their dominance over each other under pressure. On the range/pasture, they graze together, one eating what the other doesn't like, one scratching the manure of the others -- in general -- they support and coordinate security with one another. There is quite a story in this, I think I'll ask Nancy to do a email news letter on it. Double click on the photo here to she our Herd Bull "baby setting" the goat's kids for an afternoon.
Pregnant? Mostly, you can tell if a cow is pregnant by looking at her. The old way to tell is by palpation of the embryonic area by hand insertion into the anal tract. There can be complications by this method. Over the last few years improvements have been made and now there is a simple blood test that can be done. I strongly recommend D's Diagnostic Services, as it can't get any easier or better than this.
Travis, I'll just break up your inquiry with my personal opinion in this color and style of font:
My family has been in the cattle business in Arizona since the 1880’s and we are all a “little” (no pun intended) skeptical, but interested, about this miniature cattle business. Can you tell me why the market for these cattle, especially the Herefords, is so high?
It appears to me that there are a number of folks that have purchased former ranch lands in subdivisions of 5-20 tracts. This is startlingly like cancer the way good agricultural land has been turned into urban housing. There are tax exemptions granted to land owners that meet the agri exemption requirements. Cattle can accomplish this requirement. On small properties small cattle make sense. A mortgage banker in Dallas purchased three cows from us for around $9,000, sight unseen in 2004. When I delivered them to him I asked him what his motive for the purchase was (his place was 15 acres, inside the city limits of Fort Worth. "The state of texas paid for them in my tax exclusion." he said. Additional he wanted a small steer for his daughter to have for a pet!
One customer that has been in the Beef Master Breeds for nearly 30 years stated to me as he drove off with a herd bull of mine this evening, "I'm getting older and I want to down size my cattle, not get hurt by the big ones." How long has it been this way? We started in 1999, sold our 1st heifer for $2,000. How long will it last? Today we are selling heifers for $3,000 on the ground, $2,500 if per paid before birth. What is driving it so high? Perhaps its the exotic nature of the cows, or, the limited number of them in the market place, perhaps a lack of weriness of an inexperienced buyer. Or, "I got just money to spend, and want to do something different." a gentleman from Tuscaloosa, AL told me on the phone last week.
The prices for a beef master heifer calf are between $600 and $700 in this region, yet you are able to sell 400 pound heifer calves for around $3000. And this seems to be across the board. I have checked many other breeders and the price seems to remain in the same realm. This is not just for the Hereford breed either. I believe that as the number of individuals on small acreages increase the number of sales in this price range will grow right along with it. Additionally, gourmet, grass fed beef of smaller cuts offers a very real market in the major urban areas. As an aside, last night while traveling home from a Dr.'s appointment I stopped at a local Dairy Bar to buy an ice cream cone. While there I witnessed a young woman order a 4 oz. Buffalo Burger for $5.25. The same sign also offered a 4 oz. regular hamburger for $3.50. Go figure.
I wouldn’t be asking so many questions if I wasn’t sincerely interested and considering this heavily. Can these cattle be turned out to graze? We are traditional grass-fed livestock farmers, our cows, calves, bulls are on grass/hay exclusively. So, yes they can make it on grass.
We have a couple thousand acres of state land that we are leasing and would like to know how well these animals are able to take care of themselves against coyotes and predators. We raise horned cows and keep about half our herd horned for the predator problem we might otherwise have. They are very assertive mommas when confronted by other animal species as intruders. I have a number of coyote kills off my back porch to my credit, yet we have never lost a calf to a coyote. We have a large cougar out in our timber; it has attacked and clawed up one of our momma cows but the mini Hereford stood her ground and we lost nothing. We obviously would not leave them out there to calve or the month preceding the birth or after the calving until the calf reached the 400 lb weaning weight. We have 15+ acres by our homes that we would use to care for the animals during these critical times. This sounds like a good idea. We did the same, at first. Now, we have grown to trust the grass-fed cows to take care of themselves just as well as the standard size cows.
Now don't misunderstand. Most (I guess all of um) the miniature cattle breeders we know are grain feeders, pampering types. They report calving problems, predator problems and the like. I believe we have a cow that is range savvy, but a gentle nature because we are grass-fed agrarians breeding genes for gentleness. We don't pamper or grain our cows or goats, and they are flourishing for it.
Are there other breeds that are not as expensive that we could use for surrogate mothers? Can the mini’s handle two embryos? Your best bet is to use any of the English (haired) cows as recipient cows. Let me refer you to an article that the "Western Producer" gave us permission to publish on our web site. That Canadian vet is doing some interesting twin embryo work.
I’m sure there will be more questions but I will stop for now. I am looking forward to doing business with you. We would appreciate your business. If you decide to pursue the embryo transplant side of it, please do consider us a source and or a potential joint venture partner. As for live cattle, we are a long way away from each other and there are some breeders between us that could save you on freight. But we would love to have your business if it can work out that way.
Travis Heaton, Arizona
I'm sorry to hear about your trials with your purchase from the Professor. We get calls from disappointed people all too frequently.
We can feature him on our For Sale at Falster Farm URL.
I'll need a little background info on him and you.
Where do you live:
He is a cross? Who said so and how would they know?
Where was he born?
Can you describe his parents?
How did you come by him?
Do you have any other cattle with him or has he been alone?
With other animals such and dogs, cats, donkeys etc.?
Is he halter broke?
Where does he live? Please describe the environment he is in.
Please describe his diet. What do you feed, how often? Water, Minerals, Salt?
Will you be able to deliver him to the buyer?
If not, can you load him in the buyer's trailer?
Why are you selling him?
Does he have any bad habits? Kick, butt, side step, paw the ground etc.?
Has he had vaccinations? Do you know which ones and when?
Does he have any health problems?
How are his hooves?
Please describe his coat, include cuts, abrasions etc.
If he is to be shipped out of state, can you secure Shipping Permit and Health Papers for him?
If you can think of anything else please add that information.
Armed with this information I'll make a page for him and you and we'll see what we get.
Best Wishes -- KEF
The smaller than standard cows are broken into two size classes of animals: Miniature and Classic. All cattle use a "Frame Score" to describe their size. The product of measuring from the ground to the jutting out of the top of the hip bone is correlated by age of the cow on a chart, yielding a score from the smallest "0000" to the tallest of a "10".
The Classic is the size cow that you see when watching a typical John Wayne movie. This is a meaty cow, more quality meat to bone and hide ratio than all others. It is a recognized miniature for show purposes and carries a Frame Score greater than "2".
The Miniature's Frame Score is < "3" and in all other respects has the same attributes or "Conformation" of the Classic and Standard cow.
Now, a point on Dwarfs. There is no dwarfism gene in the Hereford breed of Cattle found in the American Hereford Association Registry. Buying a Miniature Registered Hereford is you're best assurance of buying a quality Classic or Miniature Hereford Cow. Most other cattle lines have a gene for dwarfism in them and will occasionally throw a dwarf.
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Breeding Methods . . .
Bulls are bred to cows by two methods:
Frequently the AI method is followed by a live cover to insure a take.
Selection of the best method for you is usually one of convenience and-or availability. It should be on blood-line, disposition, and virility.
Live cover is the mating of two animals in direct contact. The semen is transferred into the female from the male carrying upwards to 500 cc's seminal fluid. This massive amount of sperm is working over the entire period of the heat cycle to fertilize the egg(s). The Live Cover act may occur once to many times during the cycle. see Heat Cycle diagram.
Artificial Insemination is the act of injecting semen stored in a straw into the female at the estimated correct time. The straw usually carries 1 cc of semen and is so placed in the uterus so as to be in very close proximity to the egg(s). Most technicians I know of recommend the timed insertions of 3 straws per breeding cycle: Beginning, Middle, End.
Bull's virility is the little know topic of most cattlemen and hardly any hobbyist. One should spare no expense on bull development and selection. One can carry a bull to their local vet and have him tested for semen viability, and that is a starting place. But a semen collection facility can give the owner a most accurate depiction of the modality of his semen. If buying a breeding bull, by all means, review his CURRENT (within days) semen evaluation report.
Some bulls are capable enough in the pasture but not at producing freezable semen. Thus, for Live Cover, they make a passing grade, but for collection and storage (and often breeding longevity) they come up short, they simply lack the energy, due to genetics, stress, and or environmental factors, and so on.
Briefly there are three areas to look at in the selection or consideration of a virile bull: Neck Size, Curliness of the hair on his forehead and neck, and the scrotal sack with it's testicular development and their shapeliness.
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I believe that a lot of breeders make the mistake of thinking that every bull calf born out of good parents will make a quality herd sire. Make no mistake about it, there are a lot of other characteristics to consider when choosing a prospective herd sire. WE don't select our sires on their draw in show ring. That show ring animal is unfit for real ranch and breeding life, not by genetics necessarily, but by rearing on fat forced grain! He will be short lived and if taken off grain, a serious loss of virility ensues. Same for the female.
Disposition is a very important trait that I look for. Ninety-nine percent of the time, if the mother cow has a good disposition, so will the calf. I won't even consider a calf for a herd sire if he is constantly bouncing off the fence and trying to crawl under the gate every time he is in the pens. Besides that, his mother won't stay long with that kind of attitude. My Herd Bulls are not to be feared, but, respected and enjoyed. Even though they are short, I curve the horns down, they are powerful animals, and they must to have a good disposition. Again, disposition is bred into an animal and is a very important trait when choosing a herd sire prospect. If you can't work with him, he can hurt you and your stock.
Masculine traits are very important. I want a bull calf that looks like a bull calf and acts like a bull calf. I want to look in his face and know I am looking at a bull. As I observe him out in the pasture, I want to see him following after cows that are in heat. I want to see him butting heads with other calves and generally acting like a young boy. It's just like watching boys grow up. They are rolling around, getting dirty, acting tough and chasing girls even though at the time they wouldn't know what to do if they caught one. These are early masculine traits that can he observed and noted at an early age. They must be there if he is to be a working Herd Bull. I've had more than one big Brangus bull jump over our fence and try to breed a miniature cow in heat. The herd bull must protect / defend his herd from intruders as well as service them. This is a must with me. I've had my bull Dagmar hold off three different bulls over a three year period . . . once he went two days sparing with a Beef Master before I knew the brute was in our pasture. Dagmar's face was looking like a beaten prize fighter but his momma cows were not damaged, and he healed up soon enough.
Physical Conformation too; a good disposition, masculine traits, and a good sire and dam are things you would want in a herd sire prospect of any breed. When I look for a Miniature Registered Hereford herd sire prospect, I look for the traits that made our cattle what they are. An overall view of this calf would show me a clean underline with a tight sheath and navel. The testicular development would be normal and adequate with both testicles down and of equal size. A straight top line, adequate length, beefy broad hips, but not overly muscled, small to medium ears and showing good horn growth for his age. I want to see a calf that is healthy and his general appearance is attractive. I'm looking for length of loin and a medium and balanced skeletal structure. A youngster < 14 months will not have the big neck, but the hair should show curly density and the scrotal sac should too. A 18 month old prospect should be showing size in the neck and very curly neck and forehead hair. His sack should look like a ping pong paddle when viewed from the rear. The older he gets the more distance from the body (heat) it should descend.
From conception to birth and from weaning to yearling, he is a herd sire prospect. But, somewhere along the way, I have to make a decision. Do I have a bull that represents the Miniature Hereford breed of cattle and can he pass on the traditional traits to future generations? Is he going to fulfill the breeding plan of our Falster farm? Do I like him?
I am very critical when it comes to choosing herd sire prospects. Unless a bull calf surpasses his sire, that bull ought to be in a pet steer or in somebody's hamburger. A herd sire is the least expensive, but most important investment you can make. Anytime you breed undesirable traits you are multiplying those bad traits many times over and polluting future generations. One year of poorly selected breedings can take several years to correct.
Using these guidelines, I will have chosen my herd sire prospects. I will closely observe him through weaning and on to breeding age. He will be weighed at weaning and at yearling age. His scrotal measurements will be taken and recorded. At breeding age he will he bred to a good set of heifers, and his production record will have begun. Hopefully, I have made the right choice, and I will have a great Miniature Hereford herd sire.
I have recently bought 2 registered mini hereford cows. One is 2 and her sister is 3. I am looking to have them bread and was wondering if you provide a stud service. I think I would rather run them in with a bull at first rather than go through trying to AI at this time.
Yes Chris, We do a good bit of Live Cover here. Our current Live Cover fee is available per head. The cow(s) comes to us or we can pick up in our equipment and then stays through two (2) 28 day observed cycles. If she doesn’t come into heat again after we have seen her "bulling" we assume she is bred. You take her back home and we suggest 60-90 days later you have her "preg checked." The delay is because a short bred cow can be stimulated to sluff off an embryo by the physical manipulation of palpation. So, I hope you can see we physically go out and look at your cow daily, not just boarded here, and perhaps above average expertise and attention to detail.
A safe alternative to palpation and readily available a few days after conception is the blood test. These are processed in the Canton, TX area, and we can draw blood for you during the “Live Cover” process. This is new so we suggest you talk to us about the test and their costs. 903.629.3034
May I suggest you look over our Herd Sires and then call me and let’s discuss your desires. See also FAQ "Reasonable Rate for 30 days"
Regardless of your selection of Falster Farm for your Stud Sire needs the following chart is very helpful in determining when to breed and what to look for. I have enjoyed customers delivering their cows just as the animal comes into heat and have the selected Sire jump into her just after she comes off the trailer and several times as she walks around. That way the customer see some of the vigor of both animals.
TIME TO BREED
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Richard, the concept of in-breeding or line-breeding is as old as the Holy Scriptures, it goes back the beginning of time and is recorded in scriptures. Both by logic and Divine Revelation we can see the necessity of the means by which we derive the term "Pure Blood" or "Seed Stock"
BUT FIRST understand that everyone who breeds a male and female has witting or unwittingly a breeding objective they are breeding the animals to attain. Two general categories are: Line Breeding which is to lock in certain characteristics that will eventually be common or a hallmark to that genetically sound breed, and then those folks that breed because they simply want to have nice stock (as pets, to sell, etc.) Their breeding objective is not to make or change, but rather to continue haveing the animal type. An animal Registry is to record the ancestors of those making the breeding pair and expected prodigy. It takes about 15 generations to lock in a genetic trait.
Hopefully good results will come from both breedings. But the 1st kind has a long term strategic design to predispose a subsequent generation to a character trait that can be relied upon, to appear in all subsequent generations. An example is the red body, white face in the Hereford, and the solid black in an Angus. The 2nd kind of breeder is to assure that the type of animal they have will be around for enjoyment and-or commercial convinces.
You may never have thought of it, but with the two different objectives there exists two very different views of time and the value of time and genetics. My discourse here deals with what we at Falster farm are: Line-Breeders, Seed Stock Ranchers of mini Registered Cattle.
The reading of the biographies of: the Canine (dog) genetic developers such as the Doberman Pincer, The Short Hair Pointer; Equine (horse) American Quarter Horse, Lipizzaner; the Bovine (cows) Hereford, Angus, Jersey are fascinating from the time and money value. In these and all truly Pure Bred registries the "Stud Book" is closed to any outside entries once an animal is genetically prepotent to yield the hallmarks of that breed. The organizational registry of animals has historically been to maintain a gene pool of those hallmarks.
Only the unethical or ignorantly uncouth establish a registry based on a characteristic that may occur in any breed, or at random. That is an act of the most outrageous self-aggrandizement, and tantamount to a Ponzi scheme developer, in my opinion. Please, bear with me, but many grow weary of a certain Prof Grab-Bag that shouts-off that if an animal is not registered with his little registry it is not a miniature. How ridiculous, that is not a breed registry at all, it is a commercial means of promoting what ever one is selling at the moment, and at this moment it appears to be cross bred dwarf cattle.
In both styles of breeding, the sire to use is the one that consistently delivers the quality offspring, in so far as the desired standard or objective is met with his subsequent generations. It is a rare animal that can establish a whole herd. But such was the great Hereford sire Anxiety IV. The same can be said of most all pure bred animals, they all came out of a Sire and, say, a dam, or several dams. The best of their offspring was breed back to that same sire to lock-in those desired characteristics.
May I suggest you check on the mission of the breeder you are considering buying from to see if your ideal is in-line with his efforts.
Some Miniature cows have horns and some have horns you can't or just barely can see, then again others don't have horns at all. The first are called "Horned", the second are called "Mulley" and the third are called "Polled".
The horned cows are by nature more assertive, or so it seems to many. They are excellent foragers and provider mothers. They don't back up from taking protective action when faced by a predator. I like this and want to always have several horned cows in the field with those that I've dehorned. Yes, some of the horned cows are disbudded at weaning or dehorned later if their horns are particularly long in development. The horns grow as long as the cow is alive. A good job done on disbudding or dehorning is of little pain to the cow. It mostly hurts to see it being done. Most disbudded or dehorned cows have a crown on the top of their head that is flat or box looking. But cosmetic surgery done by a few can shape their heads to look like polled cattle.
The Mulley cow is a horned cow that for some reason the horns are stunted and they appear as nubs and just don't develop. It has no real effect on the cow, just not as pretty as a shapely set of horns on a cow.
The cow that naturally has no horns is called a "Polled" cow. The Angus cow as a breed are polled and there is a line of naturally polled Herefords - Standards & Miniature. The top of the head on a polled cow is more conical shaped and quite attractive. Many find the polled cow to be considerably less assertive than the horned cows, no less a good a mother but simply less likely to take a stand in the herd or fend against predators.
We have both Horned and Polled Miniature Registered Herefords here at Falster Farm. Some of our horned cows have been disbudded and some not. We generally look at the horns of the momma and if we like the development of them we leave them to grow on the heifers. The bulls that meet the requirements we have for herd bull quality, get their horns trained to curve in a downward fashion. They are quite attractive this way.
While there are some smaller breeds of cattle such as the Highland Cattle, and some breeders are trying to cross breeds to get exotic pelts and size, essentially there are four breeds of Miniature Beef Cattle that are pure blood:
Below these descriptions I have a table that juxtaposes some basic characteristics.
Mature Size (Avg) Bull
Mature Size (Avg) Cow
Calf (Avg) birth weight
Calf weaning weight
Extra Rib Eye area per 100 wt
Irish Dexter's: A line of truly miniature cattle from Ireland. By and large they are solid black or a dark red. Two frame type exist, one line is long legged while the other line is short legged. When you breed them you will get one or the other looks in this cow. Shorts can throw longs and longs can throw shorts. There are a large number of these cows world wide and they share good milking tendencies as well as favorable beef. The are thrifty and are good foragers, as you can imagine; they were developed to survive the Irish harshness. Pricing for them is usually modest.
Miniature Registered Herefords: As described elsewhere this is a product of twenty + years of breeding and research conducted in South and West Texas. Well know as the White Faced cow, they are red with white under markings and quite striking in beauty & grace. Most of the beef industries cross breedings have the Hereford Bull as the sire side due to there strong breeding and vigor, (non are better.) The White Face Baldy is the cross of a Hereford Bull with an angus cow, producing hybrid vigor and yet tender beef. Herefords are renowned as early breeders (13 months of age) and they are strong on quick breed back and longevity. The Hereford renown is for their ability to go further and do more on the range than any other breed. They are very beefy, yielding 20 - 30% more quality tender beef per hundred weight than a standard - even Hereford. In early Americana they were milked. The momma cows are very assertive in protecting their young against predators, yet gentle with people. Pricing is in the $2,500 range for quality registered yearling heifers.
Lowline Angus: Truly a wonderful story of line breeding. This cow is generally a little taller than the Mini Hereford and equally as beefy. The Lowline herd is a closed book, while the other three breeds depicted here can be bred to (based on size rather than restricted genetics.) In other words you can't get a registered Lowline or LOLA without two of the original registered gene bearing animals. Well, enough said. They have all the same excellent characteristics of the Hereford, perhaps a little less sexually, but perhaps (through marketing excellence) the most tender-of all the beef cattle. The color is solid black which makes them delicate in the sunny areas and seasons; and, they are naturally polled (hornless.) The disposition of the Angus breed is known to be aggressive as a rule. Pricy, yes, they are the most expensive, in the $3,800 - $5,000 range for the heifers.
Miniature Brahma: The miniature zebu is normal in all other proportions to regular humped cows except that they should not exceed 42 inches in height behind the hump. Many breeders report that their herds average height is as short as 36 inches. Horn shape and body coloration in miniature zebu is variable, although most are white to dark gray with bulls being darker to nearly black. It should also be noted that while most calves are generally born appearing white to gray, many with a distinctive reddish hue on the foreheads and onto the neck, calves also are born that are solid brown and some with irregular white spotting. Atone year of age, the calves all turn to their adult gray type color, although the spots are retained.
There are other characteristics that differentiate zebu cattle (whether miniature or full sized) from the typical non-humped cattle breeds. Zebu cattle have in general much looser and tougher skin; fine, short and glossy hair; full functional sweat glands; and panniculus muscles (used in twitching) which are well developed and functional over the entire body. These are some of the more subtle differences that have given rise to the legend of the hardiness of these truly unique humped breeds, coupled with other natural resistances to disease such as pink-eye. Make good pets.
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Consider several ways to get started with miniature cattle:
Breeding Down or Up:
Slow - yet a low budget start up. After selecting the miniature cattle breed you're interested in - you could begin breeding your cow, or one you purchase locally, to a miniature bull of the desired breed. You could purchase semen of a quality bull to artificially inseminate (AI) your cow or you could take her to someone who has a quality miniature bull of your selected breed to get her bred (stud.) After she is bred, eight or nine months later you (see gestation table) should have a calf. If luck is with you and you get a heifer, in thirteen to fifteen months you can get her bred or AI (normal success rate: 75%) to a different quality bull (or the sire) of your choice. After the forth generation you will have a 93.75% miniature. This will take eight years to complete assuming your very lucky and get a heifer each time (highly unlikely). Also you will not want to have more than a 50% genetic influence from one parent in any calf (inbreeding).
This will be the faster budget alternative start up. Here you would start with or purchase a recipient cow(s). The English breeds seem to have a higher conception rate than the "eared" varieties. You would purchase an embryo(s) of your selected miniature breed and have it implanted in the recipient cow during the latter part of her heat cycle via a qualified technician. Virgin heifers usually make the best recipients, although highly fertile, good mother cows are also good candidates. If all goes well and you get a pregnancy (normal success rate: 60%) you will have a full blooded, registerable calf in eight - nine months. (see gestation table) At the end of the program, you turn around and sell the recipient cows and get your money back from them. The sex ratio is usually 50%. As a result you will have some bull prospects that will sell as steers, herd bulls, pets. the sell of these will pay for the entire embryo order. In 24 months you have a small herd at a very modest net cost.
Purchase a fullblood animal of your choice:
This is the quick start up. Also, you get to look before you buy and select for the qualities you desire most. Though due to the limited availability of most miniature cattle they are still in a breeders market and are fairly expensive. The prices will be directly related to the number of quality animals (supply) available. Freight can be another consideration. But also, consider the fact that if you are a foundation breeder in your area, and have a marketing program. You would be the choice of locals and regional buyers. I found myself in this situation starting in 2002, and have been trying to meet the demand since then. (see the Falster Farm story)
Still born calves do occur, and for a reason. Most of the time it is due to nutrition, minerals or water. The momma simply isn't getting enough of one of these as nourishment to carry the calf. But otherwise a sorry browse, over grazing, or filthy water, I think the big problem is not vaccinating against the common abortion causing bugs; not deworming (or doing it haphazardly and allowing a building of resistance to the dewormer medication your using.) Cows coming to Falster Farm must be up to date on the basic vaccinations and in good health to start with, if not we give a complete round of medications and deworming. I'm not a vet so I'm not advising what to use, but rather call a large animal vet in your area and ask what the recommendations are. Most cattlemen (boys and girls) handle their own vaccinations
A calf that is ready to be born can find itself in difficult straights that must be looked into. I would recommend anyone dealing in the cattle business purchase a good little book from Thomas Publishing, " Story's Guide To Raising Beef Cattle." It is a good resource on the most common possibilities one can run into and has a list of item to keep on hand. BUT, in general a non stressed, well grazed on pasture cow will carry her calf with out the slightest bit of problems.
Who buys your cows ... ?
Mary Beth, Most of the folks that buy our cows are hobby farmers, just starting with cows as you say y'all are. The most common desire they have is for a gentle cow that can be trusted around children. The 2nd most common desire is that they be attractive, small and thrifty; self effecting animals. Our Falster Miniature Herefords make very fine pets.
Many of our Miniature Registered Herefords are purchased for pets - safe for children to be around. They have life spans of upwards to 20 years, They can be purchased from us as they are available. We have some now, as our Spring Roundup has given us an idea of the calves and cows we have available.
Look at http://www.falsterfarm.com/sale_barn/ for availability.
Only a few have indicated a desire for beef consumption, but our anticipation is that as the US commercial quality of beef, chicken and pork continues to decline and health hazards associated with the Agra-Business industry becomes more of a public knowledge, thinking people will continue to turn to quality local beef sources rich in health benefits.
As a result of our thinking, we at Falster Farm have embarked on a breeding program that stresses satisfaction for both of our markets. We have been line breeding the miniatures since 1999, selecting and developing our foundation stock for gentleness as the first requirement, a small conformational correct body being the second, all the while being reared on grass and Texas native browse exclusively. We believe this gives our customers the best of the small farm world: pets that can be gourmet quality beef should they like.
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What is "Seed Stock?"
In natural agriculture practices we have a group of subjects (fauna or flora) that we hold dear, as pertaining to phenotypes (total physical appearance and constitution, or a specific manifestation of a trait.) When we breed for this trait and can observe it to be "locked in" it can be known as our seed stock - a group of genes we want to be able to dependably draw upon for dependable performance from time to time.
Pioneers in agriculture have line bred to give us the pure bred genetics that we general recognize as having a pedigree. Knowledgeable research of a pedigree can one an idea of what the outcome of a breeding couple could be. Each farmer, even unwittingly is making a choice of genetic balance or chaos each time a couple is bred. Consideration of a market is inherent in our ranching practice, consider "Who buys your cows ... ?"
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How do they do with snow??? :)
Domestic Bovines are essentially of two types. These are Bos Taurus, the European cattle, the types from Africa and Asia; Bos indices. I call them the "haired" and the "eared" type cows.
The Hereford is a "haired" animal that is very hardy and readily found in all but sub-tropical climates. The Brahma is typical of the "eared" types that flourish in the tropical and sub-tropical lands. God has given us bovine species for agriculture on every place we walk. As good natural farmers we can capitalize (take dominion) based on the knowledge of his creation.
The Hereford breed can be found in all parts if the temperate climes of the world. They love snow! One trait to look for in the Hereford is that thick mat of fur on the pelt. This pelt is strong against the cold of winter and the insects of summer.
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Can they be raised "organically"?
Some say yes some say no. We have been practicing organic gardening since 1971. That's a good long time and I should know a bit about the art and practice by now. But, the fact is that there are environmental causes/curses that must be dealt with on the invasive pathogenic level with livestock. Falster Farm is an all grass/browse ranch, yet we have pathogens invading and attacking our livestock all the time. Their normal good nutrition from balanced grasses (that is balanced in nutrients via organic method, ph control) and a stress-free lifestyle gives them stamina to withstand these attacks "normally." Parasites are a problem but a bovine in healthy balance can thrive with them being present in the gut, they control them naturally. Three elements are necessary: nutrient rich forage, clean water, salt.
We vaccinate mama cows to provide a greater level of resistance against some invasive pathogens that (for what ever reason) seem to be beyond the power of the good and healthy lifestyle that we are attempting to provide. Such a pathogen is Lepto hardjo bovis. I'm told by Dr. Boyd Bien that it "has an infection rate nationwide of 42% and in Texas over 50%. It causes early embryonic death and decrease conception rate - the vaccination has proven very effective." I say, "So far."
This old farm was a site for stocker cows before we bought it. PROBABLY in the soil are viruses from that cattle operation. In the year 2012 we will feel safe in no longer vaccinating for their pathogens. If you know the history of your place you may consider no vaccinations as well.
So, against this virus and others (see vaccinations we use?) we give them a shot once or twice a year at round-up time.
Now, if you are going to raise calves for slaughter you need not vaccinate.
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How and what vaccinations do you use?
If your cows are alive, they are subject to parasites and virus infections just like all other living organisms. If you can refute this statement then there is no need to go further.
The presence of more than one related genus and species, increases the prospect of attracting parasites and virus organisms, unless they live in laboratory conditions. If you can refute this statement then there is no need to go further.
In the matter of good health and nutrition providing resistance to disease, a farmer's proactive behaviors, often reduces the probability of susceptibility of the two statements above. If you can believe this, you should consider.
The best heath is a function of the best nutrition. With cattle, quality ph balanced grass and forage are the #1 proactive measures to take. But, there are some organisms that reside in good nutrition as well as poor: parasites and viruses. Every area of the country has its own type of parasites and viruses.
Here in East Texas, we have "black leg" or brucellosis. Because of use of a vaccine there is as small a probability of our female cow getting it now as polio is in humans. Shucks, I don't believe my calf is going to get it, but can I buy a little insurance for $0.35 - $10, yes. And, polio is making a come back I hear because most humans have quit taking the vaccine.
All cattle are subject to "Pink Eye" but white faced are more seceptable. I have a fellow Texan - a Miniature Registered Hereford breeder that brings his cows here for stud service. "Big Mama" Richard called her, and she had a real nice heifer calf one year out by our herd bull Dagmar. Richard was busy doing other things and didn't vaccinate that following Spring. In her mid-pregnancy with the next year's calf, Big Mama got an agitated eye. He was concerned and called me to ask my advice, in no uncertain terms I advised he get a competent vet out and treat her for "pink eye." Richard called his vet who made a farm visit; recommend that she deliver and then he would take action on it.
After the calf was born, the eye was oozing puss and the vet was called back. The vet said it had become cancerous and there was nothing he could do. "Big Mama" passed away in about 2 months after delivery, having lived long enough to produce a nice bull calf, but she was only 5 years old. (That bull calf come on to win his class in the Star of Texas Miniature Hereford cattle show a year later. So, what future value did Richard lose in the Vet's attitude? In later discussions, Richard related the Vet simply didn't want to go to the trouble of a messy surgery on the removal of the cow's eye. If your not sure -- GET A SECOND OPINION!!!)
Many Hereford cows bear into their 15 - 18 years, if maintained on quality grass and stress-free. Do you think Richard will vaccinate this year? And what about virus induced abortions? Yes, it happens.
Two things to consider: don't rely on one opinion, call a couple of on-line vet supply houses and ask their in-house vet what others in your area and nation-wide are buying, if the animal is valuable, get several second opinions locally, I believe that by inquiry you can make an informed decision about staying away from anti-biotic and the hormones. And purchase a good book on raising beef cattle like "Storey's Guide to Raising Beef Cattle." You might also want to look over my Falster Farm Site for useful information for the small agrarian.
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How long does it take one to reach butcher weight . . . ?
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TIME TO BREED
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How Do They Look?
Here are the pictures and thanks for putting up with my phone calls. 6/1/2009
Glen, I’d say they are in very good breeding shape, a body condition of 6-7. They could stand a little more flesh, but in the heat that is coming they will appreciate the condition you have them in. Most of my herd is likewise.
In the fall you will want to start or increase their protein; may I suggest you consider stock piling several bales (say 10) of Alfalfa hay now, while the price is low and you can get a batch of 1st cutting of the 2009 season – it is the best.
I need to get the same going here in my barn. Let me know what your local feed store has to say. I may travel up to Hot Springs and get a load on my 20’ trailer in the next few weeks.
Best Regards – KEF
P.S. I genuinely appreciate your questions, they are timely and of significance. Makes me think again of the basics of Animal Husbandry. We both know that we should always remember the basics, the fundamentals and focus our futures on them.
A Little background on this trio. Gary purchased the two polled heifers from Falster Farm for $4,000 each and rented the Herd Sire, KNF BRYCE CALVIN to live cover them on his 4 acre mini ranch in the Texas Hill Country. He is a hobby farmer and these smaller cows have him fascinated every day of his retirement!
Along with his greenhouse of exotic plants he seems quite occupied with productive interests. With this side of his hobby, he will get his money back in a year and every year there after. Who could ask for more. I like this man, he calls and asks for guidance and my opinion on how to get the best out of his project.
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6/12/09 I had a request for my bull's service from someone in Georgetown. The fellow has 5 heifers. What would be a reasonable rate for one month? Would like to hear from you again. Jakie
We charge $250 per head, plus round trip freight, going down and bringing them back. We get the same price on our place for Live Cover here, which is usually a 60 – 90 day process (NOT ONE MONTH.) Off site, the customer must be the observer and recorder of the breeding cycle process. Here I watch every morning and evening for the copulation act. With the Bos taurus ejaculation occurs once the bull jumps, so if you see him jump, you know he was successful. This usually occurs in the morning or evening as the cycle of the day changes. Once a heat cycle has passed after the copulation event, and there is no repeat heat cycle, I declare her bred and ready to pick up. 90 days later. After that 1st “no interest” heat cycle, the customer should have her palpated or a blood test for pregnancy, not before in the case of palpation. I say not before 90 days in the case of palpation because sometimes the physical manipulation of the urinary track can cause the embryo to be sluffed off or aborted as they say. Let me know if you’d like more information of the blood test.
At Falster farm we do not guarantee a live birth but we do guarantee pregnancy or a no charge rebreed of that cow; after a vet of our choosing (or mutual agreement) declares her to be of a non breed-able condition. If she is found to be non-breedable, we are not responsible, we have done our part. I ALWAYS ask the customer to get a vet to make sure her urinary tract is in good shape and she is physically in a Body Condition of 6 – 7 before she arrives or we carry the Bull to them. This inspection is not always practicable so some “Best Efforts” understanding must be agreed to.
On our side we have a reputation of integrity by active testing the Herd Sire regularly for viability and good health, additionally the management of the whole breeding process with some level of experience and expertise. See also FAQ "Live Cover." WShen the calf is born we supply the Stud Certificate for the registration and no additional cost.
Jakie, Nancy and I appreciate your previous business and hope this helps you grow out your cattle business some. I’m delighted to know your cattle business is growing. If we can be of any further assistance please don’t hesitate to ask.
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