Selecting A Beef Herd
( Originally Published 1912 )
In building up a herd for beef production, select cows with a broad, deep and square body, cows with a good coating of flesh, for these, if bred to the right kind of bull, will produce calves that will prove profitable feeders. ,,Now for the bull. The bull is half the herd. He stamps his qualities on all calves—not simply on one calf a year, as with the cow.
Get a registered bull of the breed you want, even if you have only grade cows, as then you are sure you are getting a beef breed from beef ancestors. Select a bull that is of good size, with a proud masculine bearing, a good intelligent head, broad and full between the eyes, a short face, and strong, clear eyes, yet with a quiet expression, as a nervous, excitable animal will never fatten to good advantage.
He should be broad and straight across the back, with smooth, even hips. He should have well sprung ribs, heavily covered with flesh.
Cows should be bred so as to drop their calves in the early spring, and then when the cows are turned to pasture the calves will be old enough to go with them thus giving them the advantage for making a rapid growth and requiring very little attention during the busy summer months.
When the calves are a few weeks old, those not intended for breeding purposes, should be castrated and the wound washed with germ killer to prevent infections.
In the fall the calves should be weaned and fed on good, nutritious food.
This should consist of silage and roots, clover or alfalfa hay, corn, oats and bran—with daily allowance of some reliable Tonic to aid digestion and promote a quick growth.
The age at which steers should be marketed depends largely on the market prices, but as a rule well fed steers sell best at 14 to 16 months old. But if you do not wish to dispose of your product as beef, then you should choose one of the dairy instead of beef breeds of cattle.
The principal dairy breeds are Holstein, Guernsey, Ayrshire, Jersey, Brown Swiss, Dutch Belted, Devon, Polled Durham, Red Polled, etc.
There are several other dairy breeds, such as the French Canadian, Kerry and Sussex, etc., but these are rather scarce at present.
In buying dairy cattle we have a different standard to go by than in selecting a beef animal.
A dairy cow is a machine that turns feed into milk and cream. So we must look for one that will convert the greatest quantity of feed into the most milk and cream. The type of dairy cow we want is a cow weighing about 1,000 pounds. She must have a lean head and neck. Her eyes should be clear and large, indicating health and temperament. Her body should be narrow over the shoulders, and broad at the hip and rump. She should have a large,, chest, indicating vitality. Her pouch or belly should be large, showing that she is able to consume a large amount of rough feed.
She should have a set of large, branching milk veins leading to a well developed udder on which are placed four good sized teats.
She should carry very little flesh.
Before introducing any new cows into the stable have them tuberculin tested, to avoid introducing tuberculosis into the herd. Be on the lookout for any discharge which might be due to abortion, as this is another disease you must watch.