Suitable breed for mountain farm?

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linbul

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Hello there! Let me tell you how I admire that board and all the helpfull information shared here... :clap:
It's gonna be a long post, but I'd like to give all the initial information needed for a right answer. My native language is not English so please excuse some misunderstandings.

First, the question: Is it Angus the right breed for us?

The conditions:
- we are in Bulgaria, the Balkans, Europe. Our region is somewhat similar to Virginia as a climate/landscape.
- we have a farm in the lowlands, where we feeded dairy calves for slaughter. Recently we bought a high mountain farm buildings to start Cow/calf beef operation. The distance between them is about 40 miles.
- due to wrong politics in the country about 90% of the cattle is dairy, mostly Jerseys and crosses. The demand for beef is very high, but the industry is not developed - no sale barns, no breeders, no feeders, no grading system. The sales are mostly direct to packers.
- the farm is at about 4800ft, on top of mountain, slightly sloped hills.
- the pasture is public land over 12,000 acres, not shared. The grass is about 80% brome, lush during April - September. No crops seeding is allowed, but hay cropping is okay. Fencing is not possible.
- we have heavy snow above 3ft from January till end of March. At that time the cattle will be in the farm buildings, feeded with hay.
- the labor cost is neglectable, but there are not many people around.

The plan:
- buyng small number of Angus heifers from Germany and starting of herd multiplication and improvement over the years reaching over 300 cows. Selling only the steers on 14-18 months age.
- after the first stage we are going to cross with terminal sire from Limousin breed and keep fullblood Angus only for replacements.
- due to conditions above we are limiting the grain usage to minimum.

The questions:
- which is really the best maternal beef breed for pasture handling? I know the question is arguable, but anyway what are the oppinions...
- how is the grass feeding and finishing affecting the qualities of the meat? There is no "grassfed niche" market here, so the question is about the real qualities.
- one of our main problems is the lack of fence. Does Angus cattle have a "flock" instinct (keeping together)? If not, which is the breed with such behavior?

Thanks in advance. Sorry if some/all os the questions are discussed before...

Edit: total area changed. wrong conversion :oops:
 

poorboy

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I suggest you go to the packers and see what breeds they accept and what they pay the most for. Decide on your market and give them what they want if you can.
 

JR Cattle Co.

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Unfortunately you will get biased opinions on which breed to use from people on these boards. While some of the suggested cattle might be right for your operation, I would also suggest that you contact the packers and see which cattle they prefer and which breed you will get a premium for. I would also prioritize what qualities you are looking for in your animals. Example: I would not put as much emphasis on "herd instinct"as I would on how well the animals can tolerate the environmental conditions in your area. Hope this helps.
 
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linbul

linbul

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Thank You all for the prompt replies!

CKC1586":1r4eqhht said:
I would like to suggest you look at and consider the Piedmontese. This link will give you some history on the breed: http://www.pauscattle.org/history.htm . They are hardy in both hot and cold climates and do well on grass.
As for the Piedmontese, there are not many of them around here (Central/Eastern Europe), so the genetics are probably not very improved... They do not perform very well - there is a good source of information in english http://www.cschms.cz/english/index.php?page=results

About the packers opinion - most of them haven't seen anything different than diary meat. Actually the only possible significant premuim is from the restaurants we contacted for the purebred Angus or Limousine x Angus 50% cross. Maybe in the future...

More important for us is the handling of the herd in "open range" conditions. It's gonna be a large herd and possible losses of cattle would outbid any price premium we could gain.

If I knew what is the right breed for the conditions I wouldn't ask. Just lack of regional data to compare with.
 

dun

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Just me but I would look to Gelbvieh, Fleckvieh or Simmenthal. They were developed in the mountanous areas. But for grass finished, good rustlers, adaptable and easy handling I would really lean towards Hereford. I just think the Gelbvieh, Fleck/Simm genetics may be easier to come by in your part of the world
 

CKC1586

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You were asking about a breed that would do well in mountainous geography and that had good herding instincts. I thought the Piedmontese would suit your situation. I have quoted an excerpt about their history.They are hardy and do well in both hot and cold climates and have great carcass yields.
This is a link that lists Piedmontese associations in other countries; http://www.pauscattle.org/links.htm.

"Piedmontese have an interesting history that began in the secluded Piedmont region of northwest Italy, an area naturally protected by the Alps mountain range. This area was populated with an ancient European breed of cattle known as Auroch [ Bos Primigenius ]. Descendants of the Aurochs and other domestic European cattle common to the more temperate zones belong to the species of bovine known as Bos Taurus.
Piedmontese cattle are Italy's most popular breed and their numbers are growing worldwide. Breeders around the globe including producers in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Great Britain, Holland, Mexico, Poland, and New Zealand are actively engaged in breeding Piedmontese cattle."


I read the study that was linked in your post. I am not real sure how to read what they are documenting, was it mostly the population of those breeds?
Hope you find what you are looking for and that will meet your needs and the needs of your customers. Best wishes! :tiphat:
 

SRBeef

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One question it seems needs to be answered is the matter of handling cattle on 12,000 acres (4900 hectares) with no fences. It is done on the American west and Canada but requires some knowledge, experience and people.

I would suggest that you consider using a solar powered single wire electric divider ("fence") to keep the cattle on smaller sections rather than letting them roam the entire area (just short of 20 square miles!)

If the "no fence" is because of laws, perhaps you can get permission to use a solar powered single wire temporary with step-in posts. Even 300 cows on 20 square miles is not very dense. You might want to start out smaller scale, maybe 50 cows, in a smaller area to see if the breed you end up with is suitable for your conditions, that this breed "finishes" acceptably on grass (not all do!), they calve well on their own and are acceptable to your beef market.

I think you may be disappointed in trying to market beef finished on mountain grass only but it depends on the grass itself.

As Dun suggests, the Hereford breed is known for its toughness in harsh conditions, calves well unassisted, ability to withstand cold.

Start small would be my main suggestion.

Good luck with your new plan.
 

Aero

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SRBeef":1elso0ds said:
I think you may be disappointed in trying to market beef finished on mountain grass only but it depends on the grass itself.

from what i understand of the European market, marbling is not so important but i imagine tenderness could be an issue in that environment.
 
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linbul

linbul

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Thank You all guys.

SRBeef":3u6a0j5u said:
One question it seems needs to be answered is the matter of handling cattle on 12,000 acres (4900 hectares) with no fences. It is done on the American west and Canada but requires some knowledge, experience and people.
.....
Thanks for reading carefully my post :) . Yes, that is our main issue - handling. Electric fencing is an option we consider, because we wouldn't use the whole area of the pasture anyway.
As for the Herefords, they are not well accepted in the remaining part of Europe because of the external fat (?) they gain. There were some herds of them around and everybody is certain about easy handling, but in long term planning they are not the right breed for us because of the market. I cannot rely that there will be no breeds competition and no grading system forever. We just don't have time spending several years breeding wrong cattle because of the competition forecoming. I'll check terminal cross with Hereford cows anyway.

Aero":3u6a0j5u said:
from what i understand of the European market, marbling is not so important but i imagine tenderness could be an issue in that environment.

That's right! This is the reason I asked about the grass effect on the tenderness and quality. The "dairy" meat we produce now is, umm, not tender at all. I just don't know is it because of the breed or the diet. It's selling anyway, but I don't see it in the future.

The "grassfed" was only an option we consider, because of the "endless" and cost predictable source. It seems we'll have to manage feedlot on our lowlands farm.

Thank You all again. I tried to find some more information on some european boards - they don't share almost anything. That is a great community here :tiphat:
 

dun

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linbul":3ed9gacu said:
As for the Herefords, they are not well accepted in the remaining part of Europe because of the external fat (?) they gain.

Most all of the breeds that are considered British breeds, Hereford, Angus, Shorthorn, etc. will lay down more external fat then many of he continentel breed, charolais, Gelbvieh, Fleckvieh/Simmenthal, limousin, etc.
What is considered finsihed in your market? Is it muscle mass, marbeling, external fat, or something else?
 

Red Bull Breeder

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Linbul i have a friend whose son is working on a project in Russia kinda like you are talking about. Will try to find you a email address for him if you would like. I am sure he would share information with you.
 

P.A.L

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Hi,

I live some thousand miles norther, but i think the beef market is the same. I have Hereford and Angusherd. They fit nicely here "Northern mountains" ;-). I think you got it all figured out very well when you thinked of crossbreeding Li x AB. They work very well here in EU. Our purebred herefords goes to R- class with fatdepht of 3. If you add some limousin they go R+ to U and fat 2-3. Herefords keeps they condition easiest and rebreed well in the areas were conditions may be harsh. Don't know about your mountains, but here i prefer some fat on a cow....I prefer british when talked about eating quality.

I would put a herefordherd with some limibulls. Do not start messing with these doublemusckeled monsters and some lines of chars and other continental. They are all hobby animals- max.20 cows. They need 1 m€ houses, 5 men helping with birth. Very high quality feed etc.I have seen it.ugh.
 

CKC1586

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Gosh, the more you describe your needs I think you may be missing an obvious solution. Might be worth speaking/contacting a breeder close to you or that is in similar situation before you rule out the Piedmontese.

These two distinct breeds, the Auroch and the Zebu, blended and evolved in the harsh mountain terrain over thousands of years to become the Piedmontese breed. In 1886, it was the appearance of double-muscling in Piedmontese cattle that attracted the attention of breeders, who had the foresight to recognize the enormous potential of this development. The first Italian Herdbook was opened in 1887 and breeding programs designed to improve the herd and eliminate detrimental aspects associated with double-muscling were put in place.

Okay, no more from me. Take care and have a great day. :tiphat:

edit to add publication about grass fed Piedmontese: http://www.pauscattle.org/PPROFILE_WINTER09.pdf
 
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linbul

linbul

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dun":1fbj0f7e said:
What is considered finsihed in your market? Is it muscle mass, marbeling, external fat, or something else?
I know how it sounds, but there is no such term "finishing" here. Everything above 12mo age is considered "beef". At this time EU is implementing new grading system (E.U.R.O.P.), which is considering the body structure, fatness and muscularity, nothing about the process. That's what I know about.

@Red Bull Breeder
Thank You, would be highly appreciated.

@CKC1586
Thank you, just doesn't seem the right breed for us.

@P.A.L.
Thank You! Going to PM you if no problem... Sounds all here have consensus about Hereford mothers. 10x again!

About the "monster" crosses. Two years ago we crossed 8 dairy Simi's with Charolais bull. It was ugly! 4 men plus vet had to pull two calves with hoists at the birth, one cow went down, one calf was dead at birth... After that: bottle feeding - no substitutes; creep feeding - no way. Culled them at 3 months age.
One more - a herd of 400 gasconne (it's like Blonde d'Aquitane) cows nearby, at free range pasture, unassisted calving. The poor guy (ambitious Belgian) went broke in a year - only 30 cows left (not only because of calving, but in a way).
Conclusion: as P.A.L. said, don't mess with the monsters if you don't have a vet in the house, nerves like ropes and buildings.
 

P.A.L

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When i was talking about those grades of my herefords, they were EUROP grades. E is best P- worst in muscularity. Fat is graded 1-5 when 5 is fattest. Nowadays herefords and angus have improved well in this grading system. Best hereford bull i have heard of was E- in muscularity (really extreme in my point of view). HF 4L Beyonde son....
 

SRBeef

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Aero":32ciluuf said:
SRBeef":32ciluuf said:
I think you may be disappointed in trying to market beef finished on mountain grass only but it depends on the grass itself.

from what i understand of the European market, marbling is not so important but i imagine tenderness could be an issue in that environment.

With all due repect, much of the local European beef you get in a restaurant is tougher than heck. Especially in England. There are restaurants in Germany that call themselves "American Steakhouses" that serve more marbled American beef. They do that for a reason.

"American style" beef does NOT have to be fat, in fact these American style steakhouses are careful not to have "fat" beef. But their beef obviously comes from animals finished on corn or something in addition to grass. Once the locals have had some "American style" beef that is usually their preference.

Note in the EPD discussions on the breeds board the desireability of a slight negative number (under the breed average?) on backfat along with a positive number on marbling and ribeye area.

In the original post it sounds like the poster is trying to raise some "American" style beef rather than the local grass fed dairy beef. Which is why the question is posted on a US beef board.

Best of luck in the venture.

Jim
 

Aero

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CKC1586":18jp1zxd said:
breeding programs designed to improve the herd and eliminate detrimental aspects associated with double-muscling were put in place.

does this mean calving problems or something else?
 

CKC1586

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Aero":38ldwskw said:
CKC1586":38ldwskw said:
breeding programs designed to improve the herd and eliminate detrimental aspects associated with double-muscling were put in place.

does this mean calving problems or something else?
Yes there has been tremendous strides made in calving ease. I am speaking about North America, I am not totally sure what all is being done in Europe. The breed is gaining in popularity. I do know that the Anaboropi farm raises their Piedmontese more similiarly to dairy here than beef. Odd. But I guess it is lack of available land. There were some issues here early in their importation that really were more related to the breeders than to the breed in my opinion. There were some animals that should have been culled but folks didn't because they were trying to build up numbers, train wrecks resulted. They were also trying to breed those heifers too early. I have observed that if you pay attention to the matings as you should with any breed of choice you can resolve many of these calving problems. Again, my opinion.
 
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