Thursday, January 6, 2011

British White Park cattle

Mary, American British White Park cow
Most US cattle genetics are tailored for maximum beef production in a feedlot.  In order to raise beef on grass I needed to look for traits that are not favored by the commodity market: smaller-framed cows that reach maturity sooner, and will fatten well on grass.  Taste and tenderness are important, as well as a gentle disposition. 

When I was looking for a breed capable of excelling in all these areas, the British White Park cattle stood out.  These guys are not common in the US yet, but those that are here are owned primarily by grass-fed operations.

Mary is a great cow who has risen to the status of herd matriarch this year, supplanting Molly who is 2 years older.  She keeps the group together and brings them up to the barn when she hears me whistle.  Both she and her sister, Martha, "settled" on the first try when we bred them using AI.  I'm pleased with the growth and beauty of Mary's first calf, Abe, too.  It will be a while before I can attest to the taste and tenderness categories, but I'm confident that this breed is right for our farm.

Typical markings for White Parks are a white coat over darker skin, with "points" (ears, noses, feet, and teats) in black or red.  Mary and Martha are a little under-marked, but  there are plenty of well-marked bulls available via AI to set the traditional pattern in their offspring.  More about this amazing breed in fact and myth at the following websites:

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