No Bull About It, Just the Facts
Ok, so I'm struggling on my bull puns. Summary is - my bull was getting old and fat. And, he couldn't get the job done. If I have to explain, you don't understand what the bull is for.
I was noticing that some of my cows keep cycling back into heat. I have always had a lowline Angus bull - an older, smaller genetic line that has really short legs and a small frame. The theory here is that the animal can finish better on just grass. By finish, I mean put fat (or cover as farmers call it) on the frame.
Over the years I've found that a 100% lowline angus wasn't big enough though. It could finish out nice, but the carcass was too small. I'd get a hanging weight of just about 550#. I pay the same slaughter fee regardless of size, so the smaller animals became more expensive, and the cuts were almost too small for what the customer wanted.
So, I started doing a cross of full size angus and lowline angus. As my bull go older and fatter, he was having trouble mounting the cows. I tried moving him to lower land with a stream. The idea was that he could use the elevation changes could help him out. That must not have worked.
This summer he had to go
With fall coming and grass at a premium, I had to make a decision about the herd. If I bred cows now, I'd be looking at getting calves in the hottest part of the summer, and there was no guarantee I would get a calf. I could just be feeding fat cows and a fat bull, eating up valuable stockpiles of grass that could be put up as hay for winter feed.
So, I made the decision to thin the herd some and use the winter to find some good replacement stock for my breeding herd.
The sad part of this story - my bull was culled out in August and harvested for trim.
But this is a farmer's version of a go-fund-me
I didn't want to just grind the bull into ground beef as it might not be consistent with what we are currently marketing. He was older and the meat was dark red with nutrients. I decided I wanted to honor his service with something special.
I dug into the sausage recipes at OCP and reformulated one for chorizo. At the last Ohio Association of Meat Processors conference, we entered a Smoked Chorizo Bratwurst into the product competition. We won grand champion with it, smoking the competition (so to speak).
This chorizo recipe features grassfed beef and pasture raised pork, fresh cilantro and jalapenos, as well as a fiery mix of house smoked chilis - including habanero, cayenne, and jalapeno. Traditionally, chorizo is a crumbly sausage and acid - in the form of vinegar - is used to denature proteins and form the loose bind. I didn't want that, so I used a touch of acid in the form of a red wine reduction.
This sausage is hot - no doubt about it - but balanced and really tasty. We all have different tolerances for heat, but Allyson and I both enjoyed them last night for dinner. I usually like stuff much hotter than her. She agreed it was hot, but not un-enjoyable.
1# packs of Smoked Beef Chorizo Links - $10 (hot links)
A bull can be expensive. The replacements I'm looking at range from $3,500 to $7,000. There are a lot of considerations, but for me the "ease of fleshing" - on a forage diet - is most important.
A standard industry data point is the gains over a 120-day high energy feeding diet (ex. corn and grains). The theory here is to show that the bull is capable of producing calves that grow fast and big - given enough energy. Finding data and bull genetics on a forage diet is much more difficult.
That model isn't applicable to the grass-only farmer. I need an animal that will marble out on a reasonable Ohio pasture diet. These animals may take longer to finish, but will produce a healthier, more flavorful product.
This week's smoked chorizo sale will help set my budget for the new bull this winter.