Pedigree Isn’t Everything

We have a registered Angus herd. But we don’t always register the offspring of the registered animals.

Strict rules apply to animals that can be papered. As noted in the instructions and rules at American Angus Association,

Animals with SCURS, or RED IN COLOR, or with WHITE SKIN above or in front of the navel, or on leg, foot or tail shall not be eligible for registration.

SCURS are horn tissue or partially form horns on animals. Angus are naturally polled, meaning that they do not have horns. Occasionally a small horny growth will grow where horns would normally be. RED IN COLOR means that the hair is growing red not just red from winter coat shed or sunburn. Register-able Angus can actually have white on them, under their belly between their back legs to their navel. A couple of our mother cows do have some white spots on their udders, and calf or two have a bit of white behind their navels. This is all just a part of their genetics and of the nature of the breed itself.

Sometimes nature interrupts our plans for pedigreed animals. Runts and poor eaters are dropped from the registered herd. Same with animals with injuries that would affect their vitality or cause reproduction concerns. We had a calf a couple of years back, when just a day old, a cow stepped on his leg and broke it as he was resting in the tall grass. The leg healed, but it affected his development and growth rate. We neutered him. As a steer, he was grown to produce meat instead of for breeding.

If you read the stories about Samson earlier in the blog, you would remember he was abandoned by his mother and adopted by our farm. He came from registered stock, but as a bottle fed calf, was not growing well enough to be considered register quality. He grew to become a herd sire for six cows and will continue to produce commercial (non-registered) offspring.

Many of our buyers do not desire the registration paperwork to be completed. They have commercial herds that do not require the animals to be papered while they still want the animals to come from registered parents and want to be able to trace the lineage. We do not register these animals either.



Samson Moving On

The day has come for Samson’s next move. The rope halter was put on and he was walked out into the barnyard where the stock trailer was parked. Samson’s new owners took a few minutes to re-unite with him, they spent time talking and petting him. They found out where he liked to be scratched. We filled them in on his passion for vegetables from the garden, sliced up apples, and his all time favorite; banana peels.

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He walked into the trailer easily and was all ready for the ride to his next adventure.

His new owners have their small farm all ready for Samson. He will be the herd sire for five cows, not a bad gig for a thirteen month old. He will have several fields of open grazing with his girlfriends and extra hay in the barn whenever he wants it.


Samson’s Next Chapter

This is the fourth in a series of articles about Samson

Two Angus bulls tethered to a fence one standing and one laying down.

Samson taught by example by being first. Into the barn, into the stanchions, eating, walking on a halter, and laying down. He stood still while we brushed his hair, and the other bulls realized that we would not hurt them. His smooth, comfortable moves calmed the other three bull that had no idea what was going on. With Samson’s help it took less than a week to get them ‘broke to lead’, that is the term to be able to walk an animal with a halter on.

Four Black Angus eating grass in a manger.

After every training session, the bulls were treated to something a little special. Sometimes it would be fresh mowed grass, or chopped up cabbage along with all the sweet grass hay they wanted.

They are not ready to walk around a show ring at the fair, but they are ready to move on.

All the three bulls that Samson helped train are scheduled to show at the Fairs with us in July and August. The bull # 62 (Banjo) has been spoken for already, but will stay here on the farm until early next year. In January he will be moved to the southern Oregon Coast to a large cow/calf operation. After the Fairs, bull # 57 (Bryce) , will be used as our rental sire, servicing the local farms in the area, he stays at each farm about 63 days before moving on to the next batch of females. Bull # 63 (Cooper) is still too young to sell, he was born in June last year. He will be available for sale after the Fair circuit in complete.

Samson did a superb job getting these bulls halter broke before he starts his new life as herd sire. It has been a year of many memories.



Another Job for Samson

This is the third in a series of articles about Samson

Samson has been in the bull pen for several months now with the other yearlings, had his first birthday, has grown to about 900 lbs., and has been sold to another rancher. The rancher will be waiting a couple of months before using his new bull, and has asked us to keep him here at the farm for a month while he gets his farm ready for the addition.  Samson will be busy with his new role. In the meantime, we are going to put Samson to work for us during this transition stage.

We needed to get three other bulls broke to lead with halters and we are using Samson to help with that task. Samson is so calm and easy to handle, the other bulls are following his lead. But we had to do it in stages. The three bulls did not like the idea of confinement of any kind. It became an interesting series of steps, sometimes adjusting the normal routine to assure minimal unease for the animals.

The first step was moving the bulls from the bull pen to the barn. These wild and free fellers did a bit of skipping, jumping and general scuffling around as we were trying to keep the momentum headed in the right direction. Once in the barn we had hay ready for them in the manger. They had to put their heads through the stanchions (metal framework that only allows their heads into the manger) to eat. They had eaten in this same manger several months earlier when we weaned them, but it took awhile before they remembered that in order to eat hay they had to put their heads through the bars. Samson did not hesitate and was happily munching within seconds of entering the barn. His noisy munching directed the others to do the same.

Yearling black Angus bulls with rope halters on.

For the first couple of days, the halters would be slipped on and off the yearlings as they ate hay. They had to get used to the idea that someone would be moving around next to their heads. Once they were comfortable wearing the halter, they would eat hay easily and not be concerned. At the end of mealtime the halter would be removed.

By the third day, the halters would be tied to the stanchions and the head gate would be opened allowing them to pull their heads back while still be tethered with the halter. They were able to feel the pressure of the halter when they pulled back. Within an hour they found that they could stand with the rope loose and there would be no pressure from the halter. The halters were taken off after about an hour and the yearlings went on about their day as if nothing unusual happened.

We gave them a day of rest on the fourth day and did not put halters on any of the bulls. There feedings were in the manger and fresh mowed grass was the treat of the day.

On the fifth day we once again haltered the bulls at breakfast and let them eat while wearing the halters. After they had eaten all their breakfast, we tied the halters to the stanchions and opened the head gates. With Samson close by, the bulls did beautifully, they were calm and standing with the ropes hanging loose. Mike walked them one by one to a solid gate post. The bulls were unsure why they were being pulled but quickly learned that a smooth forward motion was called for. About an hour later they were walked one by one over to the water tubs, some of them took a drink but a couple didn’t. Samson drank deep slurps until he was full.

The bulls were walked back to the stanchions and locked in, the halters were removed, and the head gates were open so they were free to spend the rest of the day as they wished.


Samson’s First Year

This is the second in a series of articles about Samson

After the rocky start, we realized that Samson was a fighter with a strong will to survive. Within a couple of weeks, Samson was thriving on all the attention he was getting. Friends, relatives and visitors were dropping by to spend time with the little calf.

Before long, Samson was nibbling on hay and found that fresh mowed grass was a special treat. He graduated from a cup of milk a feeding every two hours, to a quart at a time four times a day. He was the slowest eater that we have ever worked with. He had good technique and he really wanted to eat, he was just s-l-o-w. Each feeding took at least an hour.

Samson noticed that there would be special treats hiding in the hay manger. Fresh fruits, vegetables and grass clippings were possible during feeding time. By keeping the yard and garden chemical free, the extras can be fed to the herd, and we incorporated them as often as we could. Samson liked grass clippings, and he complained if we forgot to cut an apple or pear to go with his meals, not loudly of course, he would sniff the hay then look at us with those big eyes and wait patiently for something good. But his favorite treat, was and still is, banana peels! He gets one a day at breakfast since it is a requirement to consume a banana a day at the house.

We took Samson with us when we went to Washington County Fair and the Clark County Fair, mostly because he still was using the milk bottle between feedings of hay. We wanted to make sure that he stayed on his schedule. By this time he had picked up the speed of eating and could down a two-quart bottle within a couple of minutes. We had to take a bucked of wind fall apples with us every day so fair goers could give Samson a nibble throughout the day. That little calf loved all the attention he was getting.

With the amount of hands-on attention this little guy had from the first day, he was very easy to train to wear a halter. He was the calming force in the barn as we got other animals used to halters, walking with handlers and riding in the stock trailer. During the Clark County Fair the temperature turned hot and Samson was uncomfortable. The Fair had put a misting structure on the lawn outside the livestock barn. Once an hour, we would take Samson out for a stroll and would walk right through the mister. The coating of water helped keep him cool and it was a great photo opportunity for many visitors who played in the water with Samson.

At seven months of age and weighing about 600 lbs., Samson graduated from the barnyard with the weaning calves and show cows. He was moved to the bull pen with the other yearlings. He had a whole new set of friends and new areas to investigate. Here, he had more freedom to lounge about under tall fir trees while he continued to grow. We set up a special pen for him to eat away from the other yearlings. His slow tendencies still linger, by giving him a little privacy he eats all his feed, while still eating the fruit and vegetables first. He is the only critter I have seen that prefers zucchini slices over most fruits.