One of the few benefits of being laid up with a broken foot is there’s more time to read. The American Angus website has so much great information, I’ve been spending six hours a day studying cow and bull genetics. I guess some things happen for a reason.
It all started with a little comment from Dr. Perry who runs the cow program at Fresno State. We have some of our bulls there, and I asked him for his opinion of the calves we brought in. He said it in a nice way, “Yours could have come heavier.” But I didn’t know what he meant.
When I started studying it, I realized that our bulls don’t grow as quick as others. A calf should hit the ground at 80 pounds, grow like a weed, and be over 1,000 pounds at a year old. That means putting on 4 pounds per day—literally a lot of bull. But this is only possible if they have the genetics.
Of course, I know a lot about horses, but knew next to nothing about cows. So I feel like an idiot now, but you have to pick it up somehow. I think we’re going to have good cows going forward.
From all this research, I decided we needed to get a new bull with great genetics. I’ve sitting around, doing nothing but look at the stats for all the bulls at the Vintage Angus sale in La Grange, CA. It’s a beautiful ranch, well-run sale, nice folks, and an all-around classy operation.
Each bull has twenty-five numbers that represent the quality and ranking for different genetic characteristics like calving ease, weight of carcass, ribeye, amount of fat, heifer pregnancy, milk production, etc. Now I know what to look for.
Every way I did it, this one bull came out on top. He had all the qualities I look for in a good horse, and we were successful in buying him. He’s is stocky and ranks well for all the qualities we want. Any day now, he’ll be delivered to the farm, our newest, biggest resident.
We had already been thinking about selling Tiny because he’s related to all the cows on the farm. He’s a nice animal to be around and has a great temperament—never gives us any trouble when we need to move him. But he’s longer than he should be, and his genetics just aren’t as good as we need. So when the time comes, we’ll put him and some of our Wagyu stock up for sale. It’s tough, but that’s ranching.
The good news is this farmer now has a boot (instead of a cast) which is way better for getting around. Time to stop studying and get back to work!