Genotyping & Parent Verification

May 15th, 2015 by Kim

I’m sure most ADCA folks are aware that there is a proposal for the Association to begin requiring genotyping for heifers, so that we can move to a fully parent verified registry.  I understand that this is controversial, but I hope that people will see the wisdom of it.  We here at Hope Refuge Farm have been genotyping & parent verifying our entire herd for quite a few years now, because we firmly believe it is “best practice”, and definitely in the best interest of the breed.

Like father, like son.

Like father, like son.

So, you ask, WHY should we have to do this?  I have heard of several situations where somebody tried to PV (parent verify) a cow they bought, and mistakes in the pedigree were discovered.  One or both of the cow’s parents were not who they thought they were, so the person did not have the bloodlines they thought they had bought for their herd.  I, for one, want to know that when I purchase an animal, it is indeed the animal & bloodlines that the breeder has claimed it is, and PV is the only way to be certain of that.

Hello Sister!  Sometimes it's easy to tell your calves apart.....but sometimes it isn't.

Hello Sister! Sometimes it’s easy to tell your calves apart…..but sometimes it isn’t.

We all like to think that all Dexter breeders are decent, honest folk, who wouldn’t deceptively register a crossbred animal.  While that may for the most part be true, I feel it is foolish to count on “breeder integrity” to ensure the purity of our breed and the accuracy of our pedigrees.  For one, you can be perfectly decent & honest, and still make a mistake.  Secondly, there are people who are decent & honest, but are still sloppy about their management, record keeping, ID’ing, etc, and for all practical purposes really have no clue who is the dam or sire of a given calf.  And thirdly, the reality of human nature is simply that we are not all decent & honest, it’s just a fact of life.  And all of this will lead to pedigrees that are INCORRECT.

Why does that really matter, you may wonder?  Well, certain bloodlines are known for producing animals with particular, desirable traits, such as better hindquarter muscling, higher volume milk production, and exceptional temperaments.  If you purchased an animal because you want those traits, and then were to find out that the pedigree is incorrect & she doesn’t have the desired bloodline you thought she did, that could throw quite a wrench in your breeding plans.

Are you my mother?  Sara wouldn't dream of letting another calf nurse, but some cows will, which can make it hard to know who belongs to who.

Are you my mother? Sara wouldn’t dream of letting another calf nurse, but some cows will, which can make it hard to know which calf belongs to which cow.

Even more important is the issue of obligate non-carrier status for chondro & PHA.  Right now the way things are, if you have a bull & a cow who are both tested as non-carriers for either lethal mutation, you may claim that their offspring is an “obligate” non-carrier….WITHOUT ANY PROOF THAT THE CALF’S PEDIGREE IS ACCURATE.  If somebody has carrier & non-carrier animals on their property & would make the mistake of claiming a non-carrier parent when it was actually a carrier parent, that could prove to be a devastating mistake.  I feel that this is poor policy that leaves us with undue risk, and we would be much better off requiring PV to obtain obligate non-carrier status.

Play time!  Having multiple bulls on the farm requires careful management & good records, so you know who sires which calves.

Play time! Having multiple bulls on the farm requires careful management & good records, so you know who sires which calves.

So, what can you do to make a difference?  First of all, begin genotyping & PV’ing your Dexters.  The proposal will only require heifers born from 2016 on to be genotyped, but I would encourage you to do your older cows as well.  The more older animals that get done, the more accuracy we can have if mistakes get fixed.  Second, please vote “YES” on this proposal at the AGM in June.  If you can’t make it to Harrisonburg in person, send your proxy vote along with somebody you trust.

We will be attending the AGM, with a few of our youngsters in tow this time.  I’m going to give showing a whirl & see how it goes!  Hope to see you there.  But if not, I can take your proxy vote for you!

March Madness….My Way

March 22nd, 2015 by Kim

As if February’s weather didn’t have enough craziness that came along with it, like frozen water lines, no city water, and gas regulator problems, now I’ve had my own version of March Madness going on.

Rousseau did not seem impressed with the foot & a half of snow we got.  I think he'll be happy to be in TX.

Rousseau did not seem impressed with the foot & a half of snow we got. I think he’ll be happy to be in TX.

Rousseau was sold & supposed to be moving to his new Texas home in Feb, but the weather delayed that….multiple times.  So March came & he was still here, so we had testing & paperwork that all needed re-done.  On March 3, BoPeep kicked off the calving season by delivering a petite little heifer for us.  We were thrilled to be back in milk, but that also means milking every morning now.  Four days later, I went out to find Scarlett suddenly bagged up the whole way & her pin ligaments totally mushy.  That afternoon we had another beautiful heifer on the ground.  What a darling this one is!

BoPeep & Miss Muffet enjoying some spring sunshine.

BoPeep & Miss Muffet enjoying some spring sunshine.

Monday the 9th had the vet back out to the farm to see Rousseau again, and we had the needed test results & paperwork by the end of the week.  Sunday his ride came, and the So-Man headed for Texas.  It was sad to see him go, but he left me with some wonderful parting gifts, in the form of calves.  Two days later, Luna gave birth to a terrific, not-so-little bull calf.  This handsome St. Patrick’s Day boy just missed meeting his wonderful sire.

Wednesday, we got a call from Mr. Zeigler, saying he would be here Friday morning to pick up the horses.  This was one of those times when something just sort of happens “on it’s own” & seems so right…a God thing.  I hate…absolutely abhor…the process one normally has to go through to sell a horse.  But we had decided it was time for the horses to go to another home, as we no longer have had the time or energy to do any riding.

Patrick makes friends with sister Rosie from a safe spot by mom.

Patrick makes friends with sister Rosie from a safe spot by mom.

I don’t remember a day in my life when I didn’t love horses, so this wasn’t an easy decision to come to, and I wanted the mares to go to the “right” person.  And that right person turned out to be a dear Dexter friend in North Dakota.  It all came together quickly & I feel so good about it, I know it was meant to be.  So, Friday morning we loaded up Glory & Chocolate and hauled them out to London, where we met up with the transporter at the truck stop & handed them over for their trip to their new home.

This snow was some seriously deep wading for Shortie!  It was time to move into the barn...for two weeks.

This snow was some seriously deep wading for Shortie! It was time to move into the barn…for two weeks.

Now I finally feel like I’ve been able to catch my breath, and I wish I could say it’s over…but it’s not.  Tuesday the 24th, Miss Shortie Pants will take a trailer ride to Missouri, where Jeff will meet a friend of the Millman’s, who will take her along back to WA to the home of her conception.  She is the only calf that was born from Stefani’s AI attempt with Comet straws, and I believe Stefani can’t wait to get her hands on this girl.  Jeff will be picking up 3 youngsters to bring home, who I am also very excited about.  One is a half-brother to Rousseau out of a high volume milker, to be our new future herdsire.  We’re also getting a pair of heifers sired by Mrald July Joe out of two Galaxy daughters….these girls should milk!

I really hope Tulip waits for her April 1st due date to calve, because I think this will be quite enough action for one month!  You can check out Calf Corner for more photos & info on the babies.

A Bull Market

December 28th, 2014 by Kim
Belle Fourche Rousseau

Belle Fourche Rousseau

(*NOTE* 3/15/15 Update:  Rousseau has been sold & has gone to his new home in Texas.  This post remains as an excellent example of how to advertise a mature bull, or what information to look for if you’re buying a bull.)

Yes, it’s front page, headline news.

Rousseau is FOR SALE! 

It has not been an easy decision to come to.  He’s been our main man, our foundation herdsire for nearly 5 years, and it’s been wonderful to have such an awesome bull on the farm.  He has done his job, and we’ve been keeping most of his daughters so far, so I’ve been starting to think that it’s time to keep my eyes open for a replacement for him in the next couple years.  I just didn’t think it would be quite this soon! Read more »

Dexters, and Dolphins, and Whales, Oh My!

November 13th, 2014 by Kim
Dolphins swim alongside our boat.

Dolphins swim alongside our boat.

We’ve been doing some travelling this fall, though not on the Yellow Brick Road, and have actually seen all the above-mentioned animals.  It all started with Jeff’s trip to Seattle for his Boards at the end of October.  I decided to go along, so I could visit my friend Stefani, of Emerald Park Farm, while Jeff was taking tests & attending lectures.  We had a wonderful visit, which was also a great educational opportunity for me, as Stefani is an incredibly knowledgeable Dexter breeder.  It was great to be able to have some of the finer points of conformation explained, with good examples at hand.

Split-Fin & Split-Fluke surface & blow.

Split-Fin & Split-Fluke surface & blow.

After that weekend, we took a couple days & went on up to Anacortes, then took the ferry out to Friday Harbor for a whale-watching tour.  What a fabulous experience!  We were hoping to see some orcas, as they’re common in that area, but though they didn’t show up for us, we did see some other exciting things.  As we were heading out on our tour, the crew explained that there was a pod of Pacific White-Sided Dolphins nearby, which was not a very common occurrence, and that they were quite a lot of fun to see, so they were our first “destination”.  It was estimated to be a group of about 70-80 dolphins, and they were as energetic as the crew had promised.  We spent quite a long time with them playing in the wake of the boat & “bow-riding”…so neat! Read more »

New Ground

September 25th, 2014 by Kim

Yes, we’re adding new ground to the farm!

This summer we were made aware that a neighbor just a mile back the road from us was selling her old family farm.  It’s a beautiful property with about 20-25 acres of open, rolling, grassy hillside…just begging to have cattle grazing it.  There is a small house, built fairly recently on the site of the old homeplace, and a nice pond.  Rader Creek, for which our road is named, finds it source at a spring on this land.  We jumped on the opportunity & made the purchase, as we are tight on pasture at our place, and are now in the process of getting it fenced & ready for cows.

So, here’s introducing Headwaters Farm!

Headwaters House from the road

Headwaters House from the road

Read more »