Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Thanks, bulls

It’s the time of the year when we don’t need bulls any more, because the cows have been bred.

We bought 16 bulls this year to breed about 300 cows and 100 heifers. This is the way we breed them: we buy them from a few different farms to get a good mix in the gene pool. (We never breed them from our farm’s bulls, because they’d be reproducing with distant family members. And we all know what happened to the royal families that did that.)

Then, we put them in the pasture with the cattle. The bulls then breed all the heifers and cows as soon as possible. Sometimes the bulls are so busy doing their job, that they don’t take time to eat and get really skinny. Last year Kris was worried when he saw a bull splayed out in the pasture, head down and all stretched out. He went to check him and he was fine . . . just exhausted. They’re very dedicated workers.

Cows gestate for nine months, so we put the bulls in with them on July 30, so they’ll start having calves about May 1. Obviously, they don’t all get pregnant the first month they’re with the bulls, but they usually get pregnant within the first few months.

This isn’t the way all farms do it. Lots of them use artificial insemination. But for our low-cost, low-maintenance herd, it works for us to let nature run its course.

After they’ve done their job, we sell them. Other people buy them to breed their cattle or to eat.

Sometimes we get the same price when we sell the bull as we paid for the bull in the first place. Pretty good deal for us. And not a bad temp job for the bull.

1 comment:

Aimee said...

Do the bulls appear to have a preference for cows or hiefers? I guess they're trying to knock them all up, but I wonder what they try to... tap first.