A week or so ago, I made a Facebook posting about how I was looking ahead to our herd health day which consists of running our whole herd through the chute to do pregnancy checks, vaccinations, castrating, and dehorning. One comment I received was that this person dehorned his herd naturally with a homozygous polled bull, to which I replied we don't have polled and to each their own and I stand by that.Yes, we have a herd of horned cattle minus 2 polled cows that we bought in a group. Yes, dehorning isn't always a pretty thing, but it's what we do. We keep our horns on our steers and we have a 3 cows that currently have their horns. Everyone else on the farm is dehorned and we are good with that. There are Dexter breeders out there that don't have a genetically horned animal on the place and that's their choice. We will breed what we like and right now and for the last 30 years its horned animals. As a breed, we have that choice to have horned or polled stock and that's ok!
As what I would call, a seed stock breeder, we offer our heifer and bull calf buyers the option to have their calves dehorned or horned. Each year we have a small handful that would rather keep the horns but most say to just go ahead and dehorn them. As an example, we sold a red bull to a farm in the mountains of Kentucky. The horns were left on this bull for good reason. Protection. Barney (the bull) now has a gorgeous set of red tipped white horns to protect himself from predators in Appalachia.
Now, as we are only a couple days away from our herd health day, we have to make a list of who gets to stay a bull, and who of the heifers/bulls get to keep their horns. Any heifer not sold prior to Tuesday will be dehorned unless specified and any bull calf that isn't spoken for will be steered. We have a nice assortment of calves this year with a few more yet to hit the ground this fall. We are pretty darn picky what bulls get to have the chance to be a bull and we have to be.
Its an exciting time to be at the farm. Our herd has grown to the point where we can't get everyone inside our normal barn to do our health day. So we have had to do some modifications on our larger pole barn which has housed the sheep flock and usually just a bull or so in the offseason. We now have a corral built on the barn to be able to run our herd in and sort much easier. It'll be put to the test in 2 days. Right now what we have built has two temporary sides so that we can expand to the east and put on cement feed bunks in on the west end. I'm excited to get this project done. What we have now was a process to build! Digging post holes in our wonderful clay ground and having water in the bottom of the hole, trying to keep everything straight and level, making it sturdy enough to do the job but easy enough to take down made for a long couple of days.
Are you in the market for a heifer calf or a bull prospect? My for sale/calf page is all up to date. Red and black bulls and heifers available. As mentioned, all are horned but can be dehorned on Tuesday.
Tuesday will be interesting! I'll update the breeding pages to show what we learn from the preg checks.