In this video Greg Judy shows us his cattle this past April, just as the cows are losing strips of their winter coat and are calving. Greg focuses on small cows – from 875 to 1000 pounds – because he can run more of them per acre, they take less feed through they winter, don’t tear up wet spring pastures the way bigger cows do, and they can give you a calf on grass. He also gets more calves, and at 450 pound weaned weight he gets more per pound than he would for a 550 pound calf.
His advice, “Be careful when you’re selecting cows. Try and find them in that 1,000 pound range. Or find a smaller bull in the 1200 pound range and put them on those big cows.”
“Small cows are profitable. Big cows will bankrupt you!”
– Greg Judy
Tell us what your experience is with cow size. We’d love to have some community input on how you make this work at your place!
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I think it comes down to what percentage a cows calf is weaning off compared to her body weight rather then a small cow being more profitable. If I have 1500lb cows weaning off calves at 750-800lbs I’m really not that far off. Sure you could say the bigger cow and calf will eat more but you are going to get a lot more money for a bigger healthier calf.
I believe this big cow-small cow obsession is more unnecessary anthropogenic manipulation of a natural system. Why not run your cows in your system and let nature sort out the size?
Actually, I think that what Greg has done is exactly what you suggest. Over time, he’s watched which cattle do well in his system and removed all those that don’t. The result is the smaller cows that do well on his fescue and mixed forage pastures.
Because most of us do not have enough years left in our life to flesh such a scenario out. You can save time as you buy new cows by looking for smaller more efficient animals, or you can save money as you cull get rid of the big cows that don’t stay in condition with your program. In other words to quote a very wise Teacher “Time is Money, Money is Time.” ~ Ian Mitchell Innes
Our cows have to make it on what grows in our Pastures.
This is exactly what we have done. The old saying that “The cream will always rise to the top”. The moderate frame 1000 lb cows perform on fescue.
Any cow over 1100 lbs gets thin and fails to breed back under our management system. We kicked all crutches out years ago. Nothing but forage, mineral and water.
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