Our next calf – developing a new Beltie/Angus cross breed

Posted: March 15, 2010 by Thrivelearning in Grass Fed Beef Cattle
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grass fed beef beltie angus cattle

We had our second “genetic crossbreed” calf today. And the promise is exciting, since he’s a new line of improved grassfed, high-quality beef that we’ve been working on for years.

The problem with most beef is that it’s been genetically selected to gain weight on grain. But not only are grain prices higher, but the extra fat (weight) these animals put on is bad for your health. That type of fat gives you the “bad” cholesterol – mainly because the omega 3/6 ratios are off. You see, cows (and fish) produce omega 3 fatty acids from the forage they eat.

Grass fed beef used to take years to mature, so using an abundant (and underpriced) grain to fatten them up seemed to make sense for our growing population.

But the whole trick is to understand how to raise grass to feed the cattle. Modern methods which have developed by a South African conservationist-turned-rancher, Allan Savory, have shown that ultra-high-density managed grazing (also called mob grazing) will actually improve the density and diversity of the perennial forage so that the cattle will improve their diet and fatten nearly as fast as their corn-fed counterparts.

One of the trick with this is to get the fast-growing larger animals, but also improve their foraging ability.

We are crossing our existing all-black Angus herd with a belted Galloway breed (broad white stripe down the middle). The Belted Galloway (or “Beltie) was originally bred in Southern Scotland for ability to survive harsh winters, eating a wide variety of forage. Angus is also a Scottish breed, but our American version has been crossed with Continental and African breeds to get a larger frame size. They tend to put on weight rather quickly.

The combination of the two is reported to keep the larger size, but also be able to fatten on a wider variety of forage. So the result is a more efficient grazer who produces medium-large frame for beef production.

The other advantage is that Belties are far more docile than American Angus. And docile animals put on weight more quickly.

Combined with mob grazing, this is designed to give us the highest possible efficiency while also eliminating the vast bulk of greenhouse gas production associated with corn-fed beef production.

While it’s been a couple of years now, we are still excited about our new calf. His mother (dam) is a white-faced Hereford/Angus cross, so he looks a bit like a panda from one side. But with all the Angus only distinguishable by their ear tags, any markings for us are welcome.

Our one earlier result in this cross-breeding is known as our “little goat” – since she is found to be eating on the fence lines and uncommon areas usually. We expect this new calf to do the same for us. While heifers are kept back for rebreeding, bull calves are generally made into steers so that they fatten faster and aren’t a problem mixing with cows and heifers when they come of age. So this new belted cross will be one of our first “to market” tests for size and quality of beef.

Maybe too cute right now, but when he gets big enough to butt you around the pasture in a little less than two years, you’ll see that he’ll be better off for all concerned when he goes to market.

It’s just as good that the little cusses are cute to begin with, since it just gives another reason to keep raising them.

  1. Bunts says:

    You got to admit all that white face is cute. Makes me want to raise one myself – but not too practical in an apartment. Didn’t know that about cattle breeds being different in what they ate. I’ll have to start looking around the market for grassfed beef – great to have an option. And I hope you keep posting pictures of this calf so we can “follow” it…

  2. allan savory says:

    […] There's a 10 minute version and a 1 hour version. The full version includes a lot of seriously …Grass Fed Beef Raising Cattle Quality Angus Omega 3 …Our latest Beltie/Angus cross. The problem with most beef is that it's been genetically selected to […]

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