Y4 Ranch Lowlines
April 4, 2018
Last night found me up late reading some of the past Beef Talk articles by Kris Ringwall. Kris Ringwall is a research scientist at Dickerson Research Center in North Dakota. Dickerson Research Center has been running two herds of cattle. One herd called the Beef Herd which is made up of 1400 plus pound cattle, the other is the Range Herd which is made up of 1100 pound cattle with American Aberdeen influence.
My question is what is the right size cow? We can easily see that a 1600 pound cow, who raises a 625 pound calf eats about the same as two 800 pound American Aberdeen cattle who wean two calves with a total weight of 900 pounds. More total pounds weaned is more economical even with the added per head costs.
Here is the dirty little secret which no one wants to talk about. Can you market a semi load of 450 pound calves in today’s market? The answer is yes you can. Can you market a semi load of 450 pound American Aberdeen calves in today’s market? The answer is probably not. Why? Buyers look at the shorter legs and thick bodies and think dwarf, they just don’t know enough about them. In this world of bigger is better they have yet to see the value of the American Aberdeen.
Where is the market for these cattle you are trying to sell me? People love the meat, as it is tender and well marbled naturally on grass alone. They are great for people with small acreage who want to raise quality beef for themselves and their friends. The meat sells well at farmer’s markets. They have great confirmation and make wonderful show animals. They work especially well for children as they are naturally gentle and quite cattle. The bulls make topnotch heifer bulls for the commercial producer. I believe one of their greatest qualities is they have the ability to produce moderate cattle in one cross. Which indeed opens a whole new market.
I think the ideal size cow is what best fits your climate, pasture size, land type and future goals of your ranch or farm. Your ideal cow maybe very different than mine. Factors of importance may vary greatly. I know when I was young docility didn’t mean much to me. Docility is very important to me now that I am older.
My ideal cow is between 1000 to 1200 pounds, she has an easy keeping quality, fast growing curve, longevity, is docile, beautiful and sports a great conformation. We are producing my ideal cow using quality purebred Angus cattle and quality full-blood American Aberdeen cattle. I find many of the full-blood American Aberdeen can meet my ideal without any crossbreeding at all.
My question of the day is what is your ideal cow? The second question is can you produce your ideal cow without American Aberdeen genetics?