So we weighed our cows and found…. what? Who cares? If you like steaks, then you should.
Remember when I said that you get a weight of 1100-1200 for grass finished cows? That’s what everything I read and hear says in the industry. However lets look at the first two cows in that list.
#39 – Yellow – 1516
#Steve 10- Red – 1457
#39 was born on our farm in February of 2014. He is grass fed, grass finished. He’s never had anything in is diet except grass, hay, and produce. He’s not a bully, doesn’t push others out of the way. He is a completely normal cow, except we’ve held him, quite by accident, past the 24 month window until he’s actually 30 months old. When we weighed him in June of 2016, he weighed 1289 pounds. A great weight, but look what happened in the last four months. He’s gained 227 pounds and that’s after he was already “fully grown!”
Maybe he just had great genetics. Some people are tall. Some are short. Maybe. But Steve 10 is from another farm. A different breed, different genetics, same diet, same time frame. He’s probably 32 months old and he’s right there in weight, not 50 pounds different and well over the 1100-1200 target. So it’s likely not genetics. My thought is it’s time.
It’s expensive for a cattleman to keep cows in the pasture. The grass #39 is eating could be used to raise two smaller cows. But we aren’t in the in cattle production business. We are in the, “Oh my God! This is the best steak I’ve ever had!” business. In other words, we are a retail store, not a factory. We strive for quality, not quantity. By holding this cow for another six months, we’ve gotten a cow to the weight that a normally grain finished cow would attain. WITHOUT GRAIN! The last several cows we’ve finished have all been at these weights meaning we are hopefully establishing a trend of finishing some awesome cows. Our yields at the processor have certainly gone way up. Last year we got about 525-550 pounds of hanging weight. The last cow had a hanging weight of over 800 pounds. Per the grass experts, any yield over 550 pounds is really good. We’re beating that by 250 pounds!
I have no idea if we are making money at this currently. I’ll be working to figure out the logistics and economics of 30 month cycles for cows vs 18-24 month normal cycles. But if higher yields mean better results, we are on to something. And if the comments from customers about their steaks mean anything (they mean EVERYTHING) then we are definitely onto something.