February 13, 2013 by Taylor Angus
When you’re a cattle rancher, your highest priority is to insure next years calf crop. How do you do that? It’s simple: you make sure your cows are bred. A cattle farmer’s livelihood rests upon their cows getting pregnant, birthing with ease, and being able to raise those calves until around 7 months of age. If a cow does not have a calf either suckling or gestating, they are not working for you. They are just eating up your expensive feed, taking away grass that you put expensive fertilizer on that could be going to a working cow, eating up your expensive hay, and taking up another part of your time, which, as we all know, is very expensive. Therefore, cows that end up open (rancher jargon for “not bred”), are the first candidates to get culled ( more rancher jargon that means “removed from the herd for the purpose of maintaining herd integrity”).
The goal of everyone within animal agriculture every year, is to not have to cull one animal. In a perfect world, every female would get bred, every animal would stay healthy, every animal would behave in a manner cohesive to human interaction, etc. But, sadly, things never seem to work that way (*sigh* if only…).
Culling is done for financial purposes, but that does not necessarily make it easy. After all, most all of our herd has been home-raised. We’ve seen our females from, quite literally, the time that they were born. We’ve watched them grow up, we’ve gotten to know each one of them individually, and we’ve developed those personal connections with each one of them. In many cases, their mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great grandmother have also been home raised cows. As my mom once said to me “These girls are just as much my babies as you are!”…. Thanks, Mom…
A cow-calf operation is a business, and it needs to always be treated as such. Especially in the modern world, tough choices have to be made. When you practically live with your cattle, such as we do, it’s sometimes difficult to forget that they’re not family. After all, we feed them, watch over them, take care of them when they’re sick.. But you can’t continue to invest in something that you’re not getting any return on.