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Which breed of cattle is best? That depends ...

COUNTRYSIDE: I am in need of some information on what type of beef calf I should get for our small homestead. We have Boer-mix goats, and we have decided to get calves, too. I was thinking of the white face breeds or maybe the Scotch Highlands or Charolais. Which one would be better?--Dianne Plume, New York

Making a blanket statement as to which breed is best for a particular homestead is almost impossible. Not only do breeds vary somewhat in temperament and productivity, but individuals among the breeds vary even more. Therefore, it is best to choose and inspect your individual choice of animal carefully.

Here are some thoughts on some of the more popular beef breeds from Heather Smith Thomas' book:

Hereford: Large frame with heavier bones than many breeds.

Angus: Popular for meat quality, fast finishing.

Shorthorn: Calves are born small, but grow quickly; well-muscled beef animal.

Galloway: Very hardy with a heavy winter coat; again calves are born small (hence fewer birthing difficulties) but grow fast.

Scotch Highland: Smaller in size than most cattle, hardy in snow and cold weather.

Dexter: Smallest cattle (750-1,000 lbs., 36-44" high at shoulder), high-quality cuts of meat; good for small acreage.

Charolais: A thick-muscled breed, originally bred as draft animals, then bred for beef. Often used in crossbreeding.

The following are heat-tolerant with good beef production: Brangus, Beefmaster, Charbray, Braford, Brahmasin, and Gelbray. (All of the previous were produced by crossing various breeds with Brahmans.)

Some great references to get you started are Storey's Guide to Raising Beef Cattle by Heather Smith Thomas with foreward by Baxter Black, DVM, and Barnyard in Your Backyard, edited by Gail Damerow. Both of these titles are available from the Countryside Bookstore. (See page 111.)
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Title Annotation:The poultry yard
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Mar 1, 2007
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