CULL….A Four-Letter Word?

April 29th, 2016 by Kim
Taquito is a nice looking steer calf...but not breeding material.

Taquito is a nice looking steer calf…but not breeding material.

Being a responsible Dexter breeder & breeding for improvement in your herd often requires culling animals that don’t measure up to the standard.  Unfortunately, it seems that some Dexter folks think cull is a four-letter cuss word.  They’d rather sell every single calf that hits the ground on their farm as registered breeding stock than even think about culling.  And that tendency is not doing the breed any favors.  The reality of breeding is that, no matter how excellent your breeding stock, some matings just don’t work out so well in the genetics gamble, and you end up with a poor quality calf.  Sometimes the best answer is simply “beef…it’s what’s for dinner”. Read more »

Breeding a Better Dexter

March 30th, 2016 by Kim
Rousseau is a wonderful combo of beef & milk genetics, and consistently passes his docile, friendly disposition.

Rousseau is a wonderful combo of beef & milk genetics, and consistently passes his docile, friendly disposition.

A few months ago, I updated our “Breeding Program” page, adding a list of our breeding priorities here at Hope Refuge Farm.  Some people may think that having such high standards doesn’t matter unless you want show-quality animals, and that your average, “mediocre” Dexter is fine for merely utilitarian purposes.  Besides, a mediocre Dexter & a show-quality Dexter produce milk & beef that taste the same, right?  And, since some people may want just a pet or lawn ornament & that is a legitimate use for a mediocre Dexter as well, why should we bother trying to breed something “better”? Read more »

Leaping Into Spring…

February 28th, 2016 by Kim

…with two big announcements!

Mrald Perfect Lil Milkman straws are now available for AI!

Mrald Perfect Lil Milkman

Mrald Perfect Lil Milkman

We are delighted to make this fine young bull available to breeders across the country, just in time for the 2016 breeding season.  When seeing photos of him, a very knowledgeable long-time Dexter breeder commented,
“WOW – great length, good hook to pin distance, clean sheath attachment, indicates excellent meat yield, lots of milk in the background, testicles indicate good udder attachment, epididymous large so very fertile, wide muzzle, good feet.  Nothing missing in this boy!”
Makes us proud!  You can find details on our “Semen Sales” page.

I am back on the ADCA Board of Directors as the Region 9 Director.

Chad Williams resigned, and apparently I was the only one that stepped forward & said I would be willing to take his place.  So if you are in PA, MD, DE, KY, WV, or VA, I’m the one for you to contact if you have questions, concerns, or things you’d like to see happen in the Association.  I am happy to be able to serve the Region 9 members in this capacity again & look forward to meeting & talking to many of you.  I’m leaping back in!

 

How I Share-Milk

January 20th, 2016 by Kim
Bo & Thumbelina can see each other through the gate, so they don't get too upset about the separation.

Bo & Thumbelina can see each other through the gate, so they don’t get too upset about the separation.

We had a fine start to our 2016 calving season when BoPeep kicked off the New Year with a lovely little heifer, Thumbelina, on Jan. 5.  The dreaded milk rationing that happens during Bo’s dry period is over, and the natives are rejoicing in the abundance of milk again.  I’ve been at this share-milking thing for a good while now, and looking back over my previous milking posts, I realized I do things a bit differently now.  Through trial & error over the years, I’ve found a share-milking routine that I & my cows are quite happy with, so this seemed like a good time to share it here.

If you’re not already familiar with the term, “share-milking” refers to the practice of leaving the calf with the cow part-time, so that you’re sharing the milk with the calf, usually milking only once a day.  There are many different ways to share-milk, as different things work for different people in different situations, and so you just have to figure out what works best for you & your cow.  This is the method that works best for me. Read more »

Giving Thanks on the Farm

November 25th, 2015 by Kim

As we come upon this Thanksgiving holiday, I find we have so much to be thankful for here on the farm…some of them being things that maybe most people don’t get to experience.

"Thanksgiving", the turkey

“Thanksgiving”, the turkey

We actually, unfortunately, didn’t put any effort into the turkey breeding season this spring, and didn’t get nest boxes set up for the hens until much too late.  In spite of that, Millie managed to hatch out & raise one nice poult for us.  And we are very thankful for that one, because I don’t think we’ll ever be able to eat a commercially raised turkey again now that we know what “real” turkey is supposed to taste like.  The poult was immediately dubbed “Thanksgiving”, and she grew into a nice little bird who lived well until yesterday, the Tuesday before the holiday.

Jeff was off work, so it was butchering day.  We only had the one bird to do, and I had heard people say that dry-plucking is easier/nicer than scalding & doing it wet, so I decided to try it instead of setting up all the normal equipment.  Yeah…well…if anybody ever tries to tell you that dry-plucking is easier…DON’T LISTEN!  We got most of the larger body, tail & wing feathers off fairly quickly, only to find that she was covered in pin feathers too, and the smaller feathers on the wings & legs were not coming out easily at all.  I soon decided I was ready to see if the tap water in my milking parlor was hot enough to scald a bird.  I didn’t even take the time to bother with a pot, I just plunked her in the clean sink & ran wide-open-hot tap water over the carcass.  I knew my water out there was really hot but never measured a temperature on it.  Thankfully, I can now report that it is indeed “scalding hot”.  Soon those remaining feathers were easily removed, and I had a nice, clean bird.  Good to know. Read more »