Skip to content
Oct 5 / Jamie

Where’s the beef?

Bull

I have been wanting to write this story for a few weeks, but I couldn’t do it until I knew how everything ended.  That finally happened today.  This summer, we had been intending to get a bull on the farm to breed our cows.  We didn’t do this last summer when we were supposed to and we knew we would be off cycle.  With two cows, we found that breeding every other year and taking in a cow for meat every year worked best.  Last year was tricky as we had two young heifers in addition to our two cows and weren’t sure how we would manage things.  One of the heifers went in the freezer this past January, and the other one has turned out to be very sweet, like her mother, our “Sweet One”.  This prompted us to consider breeding all three cows; the two dexters, and the one dexter-belted cross heifer.

We were given the name of a family who had a 2-year old angus-hereford cross bull they were looking to get rid of.  The kids and I went and checked him out and he seemed perfect for what we needed.  His owners were a very sweet older couple who had some recent health issues and needed to downsize their herd.  By getting rid of the bull, they solved this problem, as the rest were all female.  The problem was that he had never been in a stall or on a trailer.  Our friend John, an amazing farmer and neighbor, offered to help us with transport.  The day we were set to pick up the bull, he came by our farm, loaded up our cow, Sweet One (she was in heat and we hoped this would lure the bull onto the trailer) and we drove over to the farm to pick him up.  We knew it was a long shot, and after a few hours and no success we called it.  The bull would get a hoof or two on the trailer, but then back off.  We took the cow back home and John took his trailer back to the other farm and left it, hoping the family could coax the bull on.

The next evening, we got a call that the bull was loaded and ready to come to our farm.  Mike went with John to bring him home.  We got him here and off the trailer into the pasture and here is where this story gets crazy.  We have leased a bull before.  That bull was older and very experienced and was super calm and didn’t take any crap from our cows, especially the bossy one.  This poor bull was young and stressed and confused and when the bossy momma started challenging him with her horns, he got scared and ran.  First, he went right through the electric fence into our back yard.  We were able to walk him back through the gate.  Then, he got scared again and jumped over the 4ft field fence with electric on one side and barbed wire on the other separating our property from our neighbors.  I cannot even begin to express the feeling of panic that I experienced in that moment.  Here is a 1500lb+ bull on the loose.  It instantly brought back flashbacks of the time the Boss was missing for 2 days.  Shivers.

So, the bull is loose in the neighbors pasture, but seems calm.  John and Mike and I were trying to figure out what to do.  As they were cutting open the fence to get the bull back through, we got a visit from what can only be described as an angel.  Our other neighbor’s daughter was visiting from out of town.  This is an amazing woman with over 30 years experience in rodeos and with horses.  She was like a bull whisperer.  She got on one side, and I got on the other, and luckily, we were able to walk him back through to our property.  She seemed to sense that the bossy momma was the problem and suggested I get her in the barn.  It took a bit of extra effort.  Normally, she would come running for grain, but she did not want to budge.  Once she was locked in the barn, the other cows were very friendly with the bull and he calmed down right away.  It felt like the whole thing took hours, but in truth it was 45 minutes from the time that they pulled into the field with the bull to the time where everyone was calm again.

Breeding bull

Before this all happened, we had talked about bringing the bossy momma to the butcher next fall, assuming the belted heifer bred and calved well.  This plan was RAPIDLY accelerated by her behavior.  We scheduled a date for her with the butcher for the following day.  She hung out in the barn for a day and a half, getting lots of nice hay and grain.  On the morning of her departure, we were able to easily get her into the trailer with some nice green corn stalks from the garden.

Bye Big Momma

Mike picked up the meat from her yesterday after almost two weeks hanging.  The butcher also commented on what a mean cow she was, but how her carcass was incredible and well fatted.  He brought home about 230lbs of ground, 20lbs of bones and 5lbs of tenderloin.  I immediately roasted the bones and made them in to stock.  We grilled up some meat and had burgers.  They were super yummy.  BUT, we wanted to run a taste test.  This is because she was a bit older and we just weren’t sure how her meat would compare to the premium meat that we get from our other cows.  She was 6-7 years old, and they are no more than 2.5 years old when they are brought it.  Even without doing the taste test, we liked her meat, however, we wanted to be certain it was a comparable product.

Here is what we did.  We pulled off a pound of her meat, a pound of ground meat from the freezer from the last cow, and I bought (shudder) a pound of ground beef from the Better Valu in town ($3.99/lb).

Beef Comparison

Mike prepped and cooked each of the three meats and I designed a blind test for myself and the kids.  We had four categories (appearance, taste, texture, mouth feel) and ranked each of the three meats and tried to guess which was which.

Beef Comparison
The best thing was that the CLEAR winner was the bossy momma.

Beef Comparison

We all thought she was the tastiest, best textured, and best looking meat.

Beef Comparison

The store bought meat actually came in second (boo) and the meat from the freezer came in third.  We think a fair bit of this was due to it being frozen and falling apart on the grill.  This was probably due to the fact that we hastily thawed the meat in the microwave, otherwise we are sure it would have come in second.  It had great flavor and texture.

Beef Comparison

Beef Comparison

Beef Comparison

Beef Comparison

Cheeseburger

Beef Comparison

We have a number of friends who we lined up before we brought her in who want shares, so we will be getting that sorted out over the next week or two.  We are taking about 30lbs of the ground and the lamb from our ewe that kept orphaning lambs and having that made into hotdogs.  We will keep about 100lbs of ground, the stock, and the tenderloins.  The bull will be going to the butcher in about a month, so we will be full up on beef.  It is a very good thing we decided not to raise pigs, meat chickens, or turkeys this year.  We will have zero room in the freezer.

Leave a comment