Irish Blessing

Irish Blessing

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Now That's a Lot of Bull

With terms like "sire" and "dam" and "progeny," I suppose we could be conversing about the Royal Family. But instead of stretch limos and spiffy chauffeurs in suits, these "royal" passengers were transported in trailers by guys and gals in crusty boots.

Some people go on weekend dates to the movies. We went to the Sand Hill Farms production sale on March 24. We were looking for one bull to add to the County Line, bringing our total to 5.

Besides, it was a free dinner! That is every farmer's dream date. (And those Trousdale ladies know how to bake pies, let me tell you!)
Randy did his homework ahead of time. When the glossy sale magazine arrived in the mail, he circled the bulls he thought would fit into our herd's needs. Then, once we'd arrived at Sandhill Farms, we looked them over in the lots before the sale began.
It was almost like the guys were judging a beauty pageant for bulls. However, it's not a beauty contest, though looking for correct conformation for a breed is one factor in the decision-making process. While Randy looks for bulls that produce smaller birth weight calves, he's also looking for those whose progeny have higher 205-day weaning weights and yearling weights.
I started getting a little nervous when I heard other people talking about some of the same numbers we were looking for. Even I know what impact supply and demand have on prices!
Randy was looking for a Hereford bull he could use for breeding to our heifers, who will be first-time mamas in 2019.
For several years, we used an Angus bull with our heifers. But to add genetic diversity to our cattle herd, Randy opted for a Hereford bull for the heifers for this breeding season. If you want to get all technical, it's a matter of heterosis, "the marked vigor or capacity for growth exhibited by crossbred animals," (according to the dictionary).
During the sale, I took photos (big surprise) and watched two little girls take photos with the new version of a Polaroid camera. (They saw me taking photos and later handed me one in which I was among the crowd). 

But even with the distraction of photos, I'd lean over to Randy when I heard the auctioneer talk about low birth weights and say, "How about that one?"
We ended up with Lot 42 also known as SHF Elsmere Z311 E173. It was not one that Randy had originally marked in the sale catalog, but it fit his criteria. (And since several of the ones he had marked went for more than our budgeted amount, he can thank me for saying, "How about that one?") I always knew he had good taste!

Here's what Kevin Schultz of Sandhill Farms had to say about #42:
This calving ease son of Encore ranks in the top 10 percent of the breed for CED (calving ease direct). We have calved out our first Encore daughters, and I really like the udders and mothering of them. 
Yes, I had to look up CED:
CED is expressed as a difference in percentage of unassisted births, with a higher value indicating greater calving ease in first-calf heifers. It predicts the average difference in ease with which a sire's calves will be born when he is bred to first-calf heifers.
SHF Elsmere's genetics should provide a progressive weaning weight and yearling weight. The EPD - or expected progeny difference - at weaning is 54 pounds above the average Hereford weight. The yearling weight EPD is 91 pounds above the average. Its numbers also ranked above average for meat marbling and ribeye area.  The bull is homozygous polled, meaning its progeny won't have horns, another trait we prefer in our herd.
Once the sale was over, I went to pay and Randy got the trailer in line to take No. 42 home. (If we hauled the bull home ourselves, it was $75 off the sale price.)
We gave him several days to settle into life on the County Line by himself.
But last Thursday, we moved the other bulls back home. Thankfully so far, the welcoming committee composed of bigger bulls has been kind ... no West Side Story Jets and Sharks-type fights. He's a little more than a year old and weighs about 1,200 pounds. The guys in the Welcome Wagon definitely have him outweighed.

We'll see if the camaraderie lasts when some ladies are introduced to the mix later this spring. There may be more aggressive defense of their territory at that point. Ah love ... or lust!


  1. He's quite handsome! Calving ease is a big plus here, especially for our first calf heifers. We breed them to a jersey so they have an easy calving and less stress when joining the milking herd. Some say it's a "wasted" lactation, but after some bad first calf birthing experiences to holsteins, and losing a heifer on occasion, we've been happy with our decison!

    1. The calving ease is a big factor, but Randy wants it paired with higher weaning weights for our beef cattle. It's interesting to hear how dairy farmers make those decisions as well.

  2. I love Herefords. My uncle carried them on his property. I really enjoyed this posts and how lovely of the girls to give you the pic they took. Brought a big smile to my face.

    1. They were definitely girls after my own heart. I think the parents need to invest in a digital camera. I can't imagine how much film they were going through. But they definitely had fun - and I loved watching them!

  3. Well it looks like you have scored yourself a fine looking bull. Low birth weight but high weaning weight sounds very wise to me.

    1. Even though we didn't originally have his number listed, we think he'll be a good addition!

  4. thought it's a cow, it looks like a cow, but it's a bull