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burger?

boondocks

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Howdy all,
Here's my question. Have a couple cows that are proving to be hard breeders on AI (we don't have a clean-up bull nor ready access to one). They are grassfed registered Angus. One is was born April 2013 (has calved twice); the other was born July 2014 and has calved once. We will do a preg-check this Saturday, and if they didn't take this (third) time, they will likely be butchered. Hate to do it, as they both raised nice calves; the older one is my best-dispositioned cow. I'd also be fairly willing to bet they'd breed if put in with a bull, but no one around here is buying in the middle of winter. We gave them one more AI try than I maybe should've given, but almost none took on the first try this year, so I really had to think something was off with the semen or something. They were in good shape, on good minerals).

ANYWAY, my question is: given their age, are they likely just good for burger? I've heard the rule-of-thumb cutoff is about 2 years, but I know from some other threads that that is not a hard-and-fast rule. Maybe the 30 month-old might squeeze in under the wire?
Of course, there's also the fact that they are just on hay, haylage and Crystalyx (and Purina Wind and Rain minerals) now; I know that's not ideal either. If they'll make decent meat, we can probably find some takers, even just if it's burger but will have to adjust price....Any thoughts welcome, thanks!
 

dun

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Hang them for a couple of weeks and have some steaks cut off. Try those. If they are ok, i.e. you can chew them, then process them normally. If they are too chewy then grind them.
 

boondocks

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dun":2mv7tdve said:
Hang them for a couple of weeks and have some steaks cut off. Try those. If they are ok, i.e. you can chew them, then process them normally. If they are too chewy then grind them.

I hadn't thought of that, thanks. Think a good butcher would be able to tell much as he's butchering them? We pre-sell by the quarter/half, so it might be logistically hard to sell them without knowing whether the customer would get burger or steak...Maybe could sell them as steak (etc) but with the caveat that if the meat doesn't come out tender enough after 2 weeks' hanging, we'll burger it and adjust the price down to a previously-agreed amount....

Hopefully they'll surprise me and both be bred, but I ain't holding my breath
 

farmerjan

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The butcher should be able to get an idea just from the cutability of the meat. Ours has said repeatedly about how easy the jerseys cut , it's a "shear factor" in the meat. Also the amount of marbling in the meat will give an idea as to the chewability and taste. I agree, let them hang 21-24 days if at all possible and get them to get you a couple of steaks off each to try before cutting up the whole thing. Also, the "tenderloins" or filets ought to be good even if they are more burger. I would think that the younger one might be fine but the older one might have to be mostly burger.
You won't be able to do any cuts that include the backbone, like t-bone steaks due to the BSE thing, anything over 27 or 30 months (can't remember) they cannot cut anything that the backbone and spinal cord can contaminate but I seldom do t-bones anyway, always filets and NY strips. That's federal even for beef you take home for yourself.
 

alisonb

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boondocks":13t7tbna said:
Hopefully they'll surprise me and both be bred, but I ain't holding my breath
Pity you don't have access to a bull. Hope they surprise you :D
 

boondocks

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Thanks farmerjan and alison! Hopefully they will surprise me (in a good way). I am going to work harder to identify someone local with a decent bull, so that if we have one open after 2 AI rounds, we can send her off on a short visit, then at least salvage something out of it....
 

nagwag

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Where in NY are you located? Seems like there should be someone within an hour of you that would like to have you feed their bull for a month or so.
 

backhoeboogie

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boondocks":21jh0z08 said:
ANYWAY, my question is: given their age, are they likely just good for burger? I've heard the rule-of-thumb cutoff is about 2 years, but I know from some other threads that that is not a hard-and-fast rule. Maybe the 30 month-old might squeeze in under the wire?

What do you think the people in walmart are buying? They are not willing to pay the price for prime steak.

Take them to a processor. He can tell you what grade they will go. Select, choice, or maybe prime. Make your choice then. Feed 'em until their pins pooch out first. You're getting better than market either way.
 

farmerjan

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Too bad you aren't closer. We would be glad to have someone feed one of our bulls for 2 months in the winter....I'm in Va so it's not practical. We usually rent 2 or 3 out for breeding, to small operations, and get them back at the end of 2 or 3 months. Having been caught needing a bull before, we are big enough now that we have at least 3 that are not being used at any one time. Once we had a bull that we had used for several years on cows and kept him because we liked his calves. Then one year at the preg ck all but one was OPEN.... so we quickly put 2 young bulls in there and got them caught. They are still about a month behind where they should be, but they were nearly 4 months behind when we caught the problem. He had no physical issues, just started shooting blanks. And he was a bull that had never been leased out so never got exposed to anything anywhere else.
I would think that this would be a better time to get a bull to use up there than not. Ever think to try another breed of semen? Many holstein breeders here will use a jersey or an angus on a hard to breed cow...just to get her settled then be able to start over when she comes back into the milking herd. Pregnant is better than not...
 

Red Bull Breeder

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Over 30 months old they won't or shouldn't cut the spine. No ribeyes or tbones. The amount of fat cover on the carcass will tell you how long it can hang. The more fat cover the longer it can hang. Boogie don't know what he is talking about on the walmart steaks. If its a spinal cut and says usda choice the animal it came from was under thirty months old.
 

boondocks

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Thanks everyone. Re the bull advice, we likely could have found someone to lend us one in the middle of the winter, but we are trying to get them bred for spring deliveries (ideally, April 1-May 30 or so); we are trying to move our calving up but it's proving near-impossible on TAI. Farmerjan, we are breeding them AI to supposedly-high-conception Angus.

The weird thing is that each of the last few seasons we've had 2 (or so; of our 10-12 mamas) that don't breed well on AI. But they are different ones each year!

Boogie, we don't try to compete with Walmart--don't know how anybody could. We sell grassfed Angus, mostly to local health care workers who want lean beef raised naturally. We compromise--They pay more than they would at Wallyworld and we charge less than what it takes to raise them. Keeps us out of the bars I guess, but this year we gotta figure out a way to break even anyway!
 

bse

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Id have lots of questions, did you use the same bull for all the breeding on all cows or were these 2 a different bull? TAI is only so good!
Mine that come open I sell and guarantee them to breed if they don't I get them back, I get what a good purebred is worth, so far ive only had to pick up 1. And she will be sold at the barn for killer. By doing this I can buy 2 good steers if thats what I wanted to do.
What I'm saying is, cutting a great young cows head off because of TAI just seems such a waste!!! Maybe there bred.
 

dun

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bse":13sp1sgr said:
Id have lots of questions, did you use the same bull for all the breeding on all cows or were these 2 a different bull? TAI is only so good!
Mine that come open I sell and guarantee them to breed if they don't I get them back, I get what a good purebred is worth, so far ive only had to pick up 1. And she will be sold at the barn for killer. By doing this I can buy 2 good steers if thats what I wanted to do.
What I'm saying is, cutting a great young cows head off because of TAI just seems such a waste!!! Maybe there bred.
From the results we've had "TAI just seems such a waste!!!"
 

farmerjan

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I am not a big fan of timed AI either. Quite a few of the dairies I test do it, and the average conception is about 30%. As a relief tech for select sires many years ago, my average was 50% just straight AI on natural heats, and that was figuring in the farmer getting her caught in heat, and calling, and getting there at the right time, and dealing with hot summer days, and a dozen other things. I AI some of my own cows and try to get in the 65-75% on first breeding, all natural heats, and usually do better in the 80-90% range. But I also breed early in the heat and then if they are still messing around 8-10 hours later, will rebreed. I had a guernsey that was so hard to get bred and after some blood tests and other stuff, that the vet wanted to do to "learn" some more, found that she was releasing the eggs WAY late and the semen was pretty much useless except to breed her as late as possible; like 6-12 hours after I saw the heat. It worked.
On your cows, I would have bred them twice 6-12 hours apart, on the second breeding just for some extra insurance...
Another thing, if you are breeding to try to have spring calves, then you are breeding in the hottest part of the summer. Were these 2 cows bred on terribly hot days? Did you breed them in the early eve after the hottest part of the day so their body temp was hot enough to "cook" the semen? If you want to do timed AI then you need to breed them very early in the morning when it is the coolest and DON'T let them out into a hot pasture. You are fighting nature if they are too hot. That is why I like that most all our bulls are evening and night breeders since the cows body temps are cooling off and there is a better chance of them settling. I might see a bull breed one cow during the day in the summer, but the ones being bred now we see alot more. The bull knows it's too hot to go bother a cow when it is 95* out....
 

boondocks

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Thanks again to all for the advice! Did preg checks today and they both FINALLY took. Very glad! We may still sell them since they are out of our timing now, but are glad they took.
Farmerjan, we are in upstate NY so we probably don't have to worry about the summer heat quite as much--not that it can't get hot. We have definitely had one or two times where I suspect the heat decreased conception rates. These last two turkeys, though, still had come up open on fall breedings. I like your idea of a second breeding; that's one of the reasons I'm considering AI training.
Again, thanks to all!
 

farmerjan

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Glad that they are bred so now you can sell them as bred, and I think that they are reg ? so should be able to get a pretty fair price considering the market. Thaen they will not be out of synch with the rest of yours. Have you ever taken a good look at your records to see if there is a trend with any of the "families" of the cows??? You might see a pattern. We have over the years seen some patterns. I also try to make notes when I breed AI as to the weather/temps. Makes interesting reading when doing comparisons.
 

boondocks

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farmerjan":2qbyfjb0 said:
Glad that they are bred so now you can sell them as bred, and I think that they are reg ? so should be able to get a pretty fair price considering the market. Thaen they will not be out of synch with the rest of yours. Have you ever taken a good look at your records to see if there is a trend with any of the "families" of the cows??? You might see a pattern. We have over the years seen some patterns. I also try to make notes when I breed AI as to the weather/temps. Makes interesting reading when doing comparisons.

So far, I haven't seen much of a pattern--one that breeds on the first try one year will not breed til the second or third try the next year (and vice versa). That's been the frustrating part...And I have one that consistently breeds pretty easily but has been a touch lighter on milk than I'd like. Ain't that the way it goes ;)

We will definitely sell at least one of these two. The other one I will have a harder time parting with--she's quite docile, never given me a bit of trouble (knock wood), goes in chute without a rodeo...But I think she too will go, as I just looked at our calving "season"--which will now start 3/30 and end 9/13! Mind you that's for a whopping 8 mamas. Without these 2 outliers, we'd run 3/30 to 6/14: still not great but I can live with it.
 

farmerjan

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Maybe you should have 2 calving times and then you will have beef to sell more regularly? Try to get 4 or 5 bred to calve in a 45 day window then hold the others and breed for a 30 day calving window in the fall? With only 8 as you say, you are somewhat limited to marketing the beef....
Yep, I'm an enabler....but sometimes it isn't always the money if you enjoy them and there are certain ones you like. And then if one does it more than one year, you can say you do have to get rid of her and keep a heifer or two to raise as replacements.
 

boondocks

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We've thought about a fall calving but with our winters, it makes me a little leery. Then again, we know people that calve their Angus in January-February in the far north--but I think they have more losses than I'd want. The other limiting factor to 2 calving times is needing 2 weaning times; we already struggle with where to keep the weanlings (whether/when to put them back with mamas). So many variables to consider...when you have long, sometimes harsh winters, every change in one variable leads to a lot of downstream things to consider....I'm sure folks with blistering summers have similar issues, surely. Maybe there is one sweet spot, weatherwise, somewhere! If so they must keep it a good secret from the rest of us ;)
 
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