Meet our 2013 herd bull class! In front, we have two South Poll Grass Cattle bulls. Samson is the solid red and Hank has the white face. Bringing up the rear, is our Polled Hereford bull calf, Frosty2. These guys were weaned last Saturday and are in a holding pen for a few days getting used to people.
At Harrison Valley Farms, it takes a lot of the right stuff to make the herd bull class. First, of course is genetics. The bull calf should come from a cow that has excellent confirmation, production performance and temperment–traits that we believe will enhance the quality of our herd or a customer’s herd. Then, we take a closer look and consider points including, the ease at which this calf was born; the vigor of the calf at birth and how long it took for it to stand up and nurse; the frame or size of the calf at weaning age; the calf’s temperment; the shape and size of it’s mother’s udder–we want a firm udder that produces a lot of milk, but doesn’t sag; the bond between mother and calf–we want a a good bond with the cow being attentive to where her calf is; the condition of the calf’s coat; the shape of the calf’s head and for our Polled Herefords we want a dark line under their eyes.
All three of these boys have made the initial cut. Now comes the handling test. Bulls are not pets–a 1,800 – 2,200 lb. pet is not a safe pet. But, good herd bulls are going to be around for a long time and they need to handle with ease. They need to walk into a chute and stand for health checks, they need to load into a trailer quitely without much fanfair, they need to be friendly toward people, but respectful of their personal space, and they need to respect fences. We’ve had a couple bulls over the years that had some very annoying habits, such as fence jumping or wanting to lead the cows during a drive to a pen or another grazing area then turning around to face the cows and push them back the other direction. These bulls do not stay long.
So, for the next couple of months, we’ll be working closely with Samson, Hank and Frosty2 to see how they progress. Hank will be our next herd bull, Frosty2 will go to a neighbor who loved our Frosty1 bull and Samson will be asked to be considered for the 2014 Annual South Poll Grass Cattle Production Sale held in June in Missouri. Samson will have to pass additional testing to be approved for that sale. He is off to a good start!