There is definitely still an “Angus” craze. Some people want to verify that their beef is indeed Angus, and that’s ok! But we want to be honest about our herd AND herd goals.
Let’s talk about breeds…
Before Angus, was the Hereford. To this day, many calves that look Angus may be partially Hereford. Baldwin Beef made Charolais beef cows an acceptable second to Angus, and now Homesteaders are finding they love raising Dexters and Highlanders. Beefmasters are a great choice, and for an all-purpose breed, Normandes.
It is very likely that if you are getting beef from a homesteader, you are getting a dairy steer or a mix of Angus and dairy steer. We know lots of folks who sell beef from their dairy breeds, and some of them swear there isn’t a taste difference as long as they are raised right (grassfed and grass finished). Our family’s first steers were dairy steers, and they tasted great! But we found we had to pay more at the butcher and got less actual beef per the hanging weight. From that point we decided to only use beef breeds in processing lineups.
Last year we kept back all of the steers we would need to process this year, and we plan to do the same with the current calves. Some go to auction (usually all the heifers we don’t plan to keep…), And the rest get separated out to join the steer herd rotation in our pastures.
OUR GOALS AS A CATTLE RANCH
There are some breeds that are simply better foragers, are great healthy Mama’s with low miscarriage/stillborn stats, and last but not least, the steers give more beef with hanging weight at the butchers. We have long had Angus Bulls for our herd…which meant any steer or heifer coming off our farm was at least 50% Angus. The majority of our brood-cows are Angus or Red Angus, but Charolais, some whiteface angus (Hereford & Angus cross), and some are Beefmasters, freckle our herd. Last fall we put our Normande bull in with our Angus Bull and all our cows. Our hope is that it will produce heifers that we can cherry-pick to stay in the herd, and steers that we can cherry-pick to stay and grow to be processed.
SO million Dollar Question… What’s going into your freezer from Hawkfield Manor??
That will depend on our goals being achieved in the coming years. Our hope is to add a Red Angus Bull. If bred to a black angus, it will produce black calves predominantly. If bred to a Charolais it could produce a lighter coated calf. If bred to a Normande mix, it could produce a more mottled red/tan/black coat and be more beefy/compact and a better forager. If bred to a beefmaster, it could produce a primary red color.
We hope you will enjoy future photos of our herd to watch as they slowly become a more varied breed that is more ideally suited for North Carolina climate extremes, Mob Grazing & foraging, better birth successes, and more varied coats colors. There may still be a few full-blood angus that are produced, but we hope to up the chances of red being the primary Angus coat color. We stand behind our choice to create a healthier and stronger herd of cattle, to continue offering beef to you and your family for years to come…even if it isn’t the beloved “angus” society pushes on farmers.
Peace & Hope,