Genetics are important to the overall success and longevity of our herd. We recently had to sell our bull due to an injury he wasn't able to recover from. We rented a bull for the remainder of the 2022 season, but we knew it made more financial sense to invest in a bull that has potential to grow with our farm business!
Genetics play a larger role than one might originally think! We look for a few key characteristics when buying new stock. Our herd still has some "show" genetics in the blood line meaning we tend to lean towards larger calves with square hips. With our direction heading towards cow/calf commercial pairs, we want an easy calving bull who will sire small, framed calves...but there needs to be a compromise. We want smaller birth weights, but feed efficiency is also important. Our calves need to be able to grow at a good rate, this will ensure we maximize feed and time, especially since they are primarily grass-fed.
In the past we had trouble with cows having calves on their own. This is something we really want to prevent, not only for the cow and calf's safety but also for our own sake. Life is a lot easier when the cow can birth the cow naturally.
We also want our cows and calves to have sound and strong feet. Our pastures are lush, but they aren't all smooth. Our pastures have hills, ditches, ruts, etc. and we want our cows to walk comfortably with athleticism. Genetics play an important role in the health of our cow's hooves but so does a good mineral program.
The last characteristic is a good temperament. It is extremely important to have stock with docile attitudes. It is never worth our safety to have dangerous animals on the farm. We actually have one cow that we really question on a good day, let alone when she has a calf on her. We may have to make the tough decision to cull her at some point. She charged Tyler last year and he had to jump a gate to safety.
I was at a speaking engagement last weekend and wasn't able to go bull shopping, but Megan, Dad, Tyler and Janeen went and picked out a bull from Swenka Farms.
They picked out a young yearling Angus bull. The Angus breed is known for easy calving and high-quality meat. With direct marketing our beef, the marbling trait will be excellent for the taste and tenderness of our meat.
Angus cattle have been around since the 16th century and are native to Scotland. Because of their native environment, Angus cattle are very hardy and can thrive in our Iowa climate. The breed is usually very calm with good attitudes and due to this, they are one of the most popular breeds in the United States.
Fun fact: there are over 70 recognized cattle breeds in America! My favorite is Shorthorn, I have recently convinced Tyler of their beauty. Maybe we will have a few more shorthorns in the near future (wink wink)
Our herd is made up of Red Angus, Simmental and crossbreeds. I think our Angus bull will fit in really well with our current genetics!
We will pick up our new bull (tag 2354 in the photo above) later this spring and he will be introduced to our herd at the end of June!
Let me know if you have any questions! I love to engage in conversation about the technical side of why we do what we do!