One of the more interesting investments we have made toward keeping heritage animals was to look at genetics of animals that would finish on grass not just because we wanted them for consumer demand for grass fed beef, but because they are a smaller animals on our delicate soils, actually have the genetics for finishing on grass without grain inputs which no matter how you slice it genetics of modern beef are about size, thick marbling in the meat, and that takes grain to get the mouth feel consumers want on their plate.
Calling an animal grass fed because all it has consumed is grass doesn't make it taste good if the genetics aren't there which is why many people try grass fed, think it taste like jerky and choose to go back to industry standard beef.
We began in 2005 with seven foundation females, four cows, and three heifers. Cows are female cattle that have bred and had calves, heifers are untested females.
We also invested in a gorgeous registered Dexter bull, Sheamus which has been a lasting investment to farm. The fella can breed a Holstein, although we are pretty sure he must have a footstool hidden somewhere out there in the pasture!
Like many small farms, we wanted a milk cow and we bought a 'retired 100% Jersey with three working teats, and essentially blind. Sweetest cow on the farm! She provided us and a few other local farms with the best, in my opinion, milk cow for a homestead. As Jersey x Dexter the resulting smaller animal makes handling and keeping on less than an acre a means to fresh, wholesome raw milk without the keeping costs of a full sized dairy cow, and the overwhelming milk to manage. Our crosses provide about 2 1/2 gallons a day newly freshened, and stay pretty steady at 2 for the course of 'in milk'. Plus you get a nice A2 A2 genetics, rich creamy milk with plenty of butter fat for cream, ice cream, butter, and amazing yogurt.
Minnie passed after fourteen years of cow life but we kept two of her off spring, Pearl and Flora both Jersey x Dexter. We breed them and have a Dexter x Dexter/Jersey which has produced again a small family farm or homestead animal that we keep a waiting list for their off spring.
Unlike some ranches and farms, we prefer to calve late in the season. We like momma cows on grass when calves are born, less likelihood of hard weather to cause issues and in general zero problems with birthing but coyotes!
Today May 9, 2017 we had our first new line of Dexter add to our herd of fourteen. A little heifer born to Mr. Ace, another registered Dexter bull we traded Sheamus for the season last year. It's a nice community we work in that we can share good quality bulls and keep growing some gorgeous animals. Number one will need a name, yep we name the keepers! But she is a healthy little thing and we are looking forward to the next few weeks of a good calving season.