When selecting cows or bulls for your herd of grass-fed cattle, you should look for breeds that demonstrate the following characteristics.
- Soundness of feet, legs, eyes and udders.
Cattle from grass-fed, grass-finished beef farms are a must. These cattle will be smaller framed and able to finish at 1100 lbs. Larger framed animals won’t finish until 1300 lb and that will be harder to do in a 2 year time frame just on grass.
What to look for when selecting a Cow
To make a beef cow functional and profitable they must provide your farm with several years of healthy calves. Selecting genetics that have demonstrated longevity will increase your return on investment. Our line of Red Devon cattle have a proven track record of long life span of 12 plus years. A long life won’t do you any good if the cows aren’t fertile. Early maturing heifers from cows that are proven mothers increases your bottom line because you will consistently have low maintenance breeding stock. By culling hard and only keeping cows that reliably get pregnant year after year we know that our breeding stock will reliably provide calfs year after year. Adaptability is important because you will be moving cows from one farm to another. Even short distances can present different environmental stresses that cattle will have to overcome. Red Devon are raised all over the world in multiple continents and in every hemisphere. Their ability to adapt is what made them a favorite breed during colonial times.
When selecting a cow look for a distinctive feminine appearance. She should be wedges shaped, starting slender at the head and neck and growing wider towards the rear. A functioning udder will be help high and close to the body(above the hocks), level from front to back and the teats should be small in diameter and short in length. Larger teats tend to be harder for calves to nurse and this leads to blockages other udder problems. If buying replacement heifers you won’t be able to examine the udders as easily because they haven’t been in milk. We recommend only buying heifers from cows with good utters and teats. Make sure to see the parents of the heifers your are buying.
What to look for when selecting a Bull
Ask to examine the entire herd. The genetics you are getting from the bull you select will be represented in the entire herd. Often times when looking for bulls people want to look at the other males. This is a mistake. The bull effects so much of your herd because a cow may birth one calf a year, a bull can sire 50 or more calves in a single year. The influence on the genetics of the females is as important for a bull as it is on the bull calves. Look for the characteristics of a good cow in all related females.
Once you have examined the entire heard for soundness, look at the prospective bulls. Do they look and act like a bull? He should be masculine in appearance and demeanor. He should not look like a steer but be muscular throughout. He should be widest at his barrel rather then the hindquarters to show adequate gut capacity. Check the scrotal size and avoid either of the extremes. Too large and too small can both present problems. Testicles should be well balanced and close in size.