Wednesday, February 2, 2011

our cattle

We made a quick trip to visit Daddy Bird's parents this past weekend and also to check on our cattle.  Daddy bird and Baby Bird make the drive up about once a week, but it had been a while since I had gone with them.
We have our approximately 15 mama cows on the in-laws beautiful farm because our little place here is just too small for all of those cattle!
A quick lesson on cattle production:
Our cattle are beef cattle, which means we raise them for the purpose of providing meat.  There are also dairy farms which raise cattle to produce milk.  Certain breeds of cattle are more suited to produce beef vs. milk, and our cattle are specifically bred for this purpose.
We are cow/calf producers.  This means that we have mama cows that we breed to a bull every year to get calves.  After the calves are much bigger and have been weaned, we sell them to someone else that finishes raising them to market weight and in turn sells them for beef.  This finishing process usually takes place on what is called a feedlot, but that's another lesson for another day.
We are experimenting this year by raising a couple of the older calves ourselves, and instead of selling them to someone else to finish on a feedlot, we are raising them on our grass pasture where they are free to roam around and behave as cattle were intended to behave.  This is called "grass-fed beef" or "grass-finished beef" because from birth to the end of their life they only eat grass.

HOOORAAAY for grass!
You see, God designed cows to roam around and eat grass. 
We, as humans created the whole feedlot thing where cattle are generally confined to a small area and finish their lives eating a grain based feed of corn and other grains. 
Please know this too.  Grass-fed is NOT the same thing as organic.  Beef can be labeled organic and still raised in a feedlot situation.  The cattle are just fed organic grain products.
Don't get me wrong!  I'm not knocking the farmers and producers that make their livings running feedlots!  It produces a very tasty steak and is a very profitable way to raise cattle.  It's just that Daddy Bird and I feel that maybe there is a way for us to raise beef that is healthier for us, and the cattle.

Here are some of our mamas:

This lady is my favorite!  Our cattle are not pets, and they don't have names, but this one is particularly tame, and she is short and dumpy looking and so cute!
She's giving me the evil eye here though.

Our cattle have it made, really!  They get to roam around a beautiful farm, and have food brought to them, and the only thing we ask of them is that they have babies and get fat.  Seriously.  I could live like that.
I probably gave you way more info than you wanted in this post, but it's good for all of us to know where our food comes from.  A vegetarian lifestyle is definitely not for me, but I do want to make sure I am feeding my family animal products that don't have a bunch of added hormones and steroids, just to increase the profits of the producer.  Not to mention, I like to support farmers that care for their animals in a way I think God intended us to care for them.
Thanks for listening to me rant!


Mommy Webb said...

I want a piece of your cattle when the time comes!

Patrick T said...

Wish you could have come to our dinner, too! What are you doing Friday during the day? Your cows are cute!

a. meredith said...

i really really appreciate this. and you. making ethically-minded choices about what we eat is a privilege. may we provide that same privilege for those less fortunate than us... through policy, education, and prayer!

hope you like the hummus!

Danielle Wade said...

I can not tell you how much I LOVED reading this!! I am such an animal lover (a meat eating animal lover) and I appreciate what you are doing!! MIss you :)