Four Teats, Two Teats, No Teats at All – A Story of Three Cows

“Boy, those cows could surely use some more milk.” How often have we all heard that old line? Truth be told, we’ve spent the past fifty years breeding more and more milk genetics into America’s s beef herd, and the results have been stupendous, or maybe stupid, depending on where you stand. There are some great cows in America, but when I drive around the country, I see plenty of cows that are far too big, biologically inefficient, with udders that look like 5-gallon buckets. They require tremendous nutritional support and are structurally unsound. In herds that require a regular calving cycle, these cows are short-lived, and the main reason for their failures is an over abundance of milk. My little ranching operation is a complicated business that includes taking care of other people’s cattle as well as our own purchased cattle. We own some land while renting other places. We manage yearlings, dry cows, cow-calf and some less popular classes too. Nearly all of the cattle I purchase come from the local sale barn, which means I get a wide variety of genetics and backgrounds. My primary targets are young pregnant cows that I can calve out, sort, and re-sell in the fall. As a result, I get cows with a wide variety of milk production, and it’s interesting to see how things go for those cows. This year, I bought a nice young Whiteface cow, 6 months pregnant. She showed enough color to qualify as a cross-bred cow (a positive for a couple of reasons) and the

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