Well it is that time of year again…time to try and make a good decision on what bull to pick! For most producers, they love the breed selection side and picking the best looking or best performing bull in their minds. I personally don’t love it, and that’s mostly because we have picked some really poor bulls over the last 6-7 years. Even when we thought we were picking out the best!
The 2 we bought last year did not work out, one went blind then lame and the other just didn’t have the genetics we are really looking for so we sold them for what we could get out of them.
Picking out a bull is one of the hardest things, and maybe it didn’t used to be and maybe we make it more complicated then it needs to be. There are just so many things to consider, frame size, color, breed, carcass quality, longevity, and disposition to just name a few!
Then you have to consider how the bulls were raised. We learned the hard way that if they are raised with a silver spoon so to speak, that they won’t hold up when you put them out to pasture to do the job you bought them for. It is very common and popular to feed bulls A LOT of grain products from the time the are old enough to eat it, until they get sold. The breeders do this so that they can have impressive weaning and yearling weights and so that the bulls look fat and pretty come sell time.
The issue with that for us, is that feed will provide false positive results. So, a bull might have a large weaning weight because he was fed a ton, but when you don’t feed his babies, they have a far smaller sub par weaning weight. If you are wondering why we don’t just feed them from the start like the breeders do. Well, that would be because its extremely expensive and we simply can’t get the money back out of the animal as a commercial operation or direct to consumer like we are.
Also, cows should be able to grow and thrive on grass, grain is just a supplement that will give them excellent flavor at the end. We want ours to grow 90% on grass though and only have a little NON-GMO corn at the end for the flavor it gives them. Grain is grown from the soil so it is a natural product for cattle to consume, it just doesn’t need to be consumed from 2months to 2 years like many people do.
We had thought we found a breeder that grew their bulls on grass 90% like we want and we were fixing to go buy a bull next weekend from them. Well, after a little research, they actually do feed them a considerable amount of grain to them. Which might not have been a deal breaker, expect they specifically advertise as grown on grass. Its one of those fine lines of technically they aren’t lying because the bulls are on pasture. But also their marketing leaves out that they are also fed grain.
That kind of marketing is why I am so transparent on how we do things. I don’t want there to be any question in your mind about how our animals are raised! If you ever have a question, feel free to reach out and ask and I will answer with 100% honesty!
So, as it stands now, we are looking into leasing bulls from our neighbor that we know and know how they are raised, they aren’t fully grass grown, but at least they aren’t marketed as such!