For those of you who have kindly been following along with our cow follies, today the DANGHOLSTEIN! chapter of our journey comes to an end when Sheldon drives her to the happy hunting ground (aka the butcher who will process her) in the sky.
After she is dispatched, the meat will age at the butcher for a couple of weeks and then we will be able to pick up our cuts. We have sold half of the cow for zero profit (should be at least break even) and will probably sell/trade a little bit more of her. Since this was our first endeavor and not the breed that we are making a long term run with, our goal was just to fill our freezers up with grass fed beef for the winter.
While DANGHOLSTEIN! isn’t anyone’s automatic choice when it comes to beef cows, we have learned that it’s not uncommon for a Holstein to go to processing after her milking days are over. Plus, we believe that the benefits of a grass fed cow are so incredibly strong, we have a hard time being anything but grateful for the meat that she will provide to us. We anticipate the meat to be sweet-probably sweeter than what we have had in grass fed Angus and/or Belties, but we shall see.
We have talked candidly to the Blueberry about today’s event. In fact, she has started licking her lips when we drive past DANGHOLSTEIN! in the pasture. Something that creeps me out to no end if I’m going to be honest….but, I appreciate that my little pragmatic farm girl can take such a matter of fact perspective on this process.
Today in about an hour, our family will gather together to say a prayer over DANGHOLSTEIN! to thank her for her blessings on our family and wish her a speedy journey into the happy hunting ground. For animal lovers, this may rankle, but our perspective is that we have probably provided her a much better life than she ever would have gotten in a commercial feedlot, plus her meat will provide for our family (and other families)-her life will not be wasted. So, I guess in the end, she will not be DANGHOLSTEIN! at all, but despite the frustrations of learning to raise cattle, she will instead be known as ThankyouHolstein in our family.
We heard from the Happy Hunting Ground (aka Cloud’s Meat Processing) that TYHolstein’s hang weight was 570 lbs. While we didn’t know her live weight at time of butchering (she wouldn’t fit on my weight watchers scale…), the average percentage of hang weight versus live weight is typically between 60-63% with some range up to the high 60’s. Taking this into account, she either had a big roll of quarters in her pocket or she lost weight from the time we purchased her to the time we took her to process. We learned some things along the way from this, the purchase of our first feeder cow. If we have to buy another feeder cow (hoping our #Beltie herd will be built up before that is necessary), we won’t do it during the height of summer. Lands were dry, grasses were puny and while the cows had plenty to eat, it wasn’t the grass-a-palooza that we saw early this spring. We also learned that we aren’t buying another heifer unless she is going to be used for some baby makin’! For some reason, TYHolstein didn’t like our existing herd and ran like proverbial hell to get in our neighbors pasture with his Angus heifers. Not sure why, but she never looked back and once a cow is committed, well, I think she is like a stubborn old woman-no changing her mind. We think had we bought her younger, she would have had more time to acclimate to our herd. I’m sure as the months/years go on, we’ll figure out what else we did wrong this go around, but at least for now, we remain forever grateful for her gifts.
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