“John Patterson from the NCBA, quoting Dave Daly, U of California, Chico. Dave was asked by a reporter why cattle producers castrate bull calves. Someone else had given her the whole tenderness, marbling, dark cutter answer and she wasn’t happy. Dave told her,” we castrate bull calves so they don’t have sex with their mothers, or their sisters.” She then approved of the procedure.”
I was lucky enough to have taken a class from Dr. Daley when I attended Chico State. Actually it was Advanced Beef Production; I took it for fun, because well, I like to learn. I was really nice to learn from someone other than my Dad. I’m not sure how much Dr. Daley enjoyed having me in his class though; I was that annoying girl in the back that raised my hand every 5 minutes with a question that usually started with “My Dad always did it this way, why do you do that way?” But that is a story for another blog post….
I got a lot from the class. For example, that is where I was introduced to Dr. Grandin‘s books for the first time. We all know how that changed my life. I also got to tour Harris Ranch - which was incredible because we were selling our commercial beef to them so I got to see the whole process from farm to fork!
Dr. Daley was really great at teaching us how to talk to our consumers. He tried to teach us to talk about cattle in a way our consumer can identify with, just like he did above with the reporter. Dr. Daley’s beef production class has served me very well because often I see things like this on my friend’s social media and you all know I cannot keep my mouth shut:
When I was on vacation last month I was lucky enough to be on the Ranch when our neighbor’s bull got in with our bulls. A major bull fight ensued and the highway patrol called us because our bull was on the freeway. That is always one of the most terrifying phone calls to get. My Mom and I took action, she gathered fence fixing tools and I grabbed my rifle and went down to see what was going on.
There is always a chance we are too late. That the bull was wounded in the bull fight or had already been hit by a car. That is why I bring my rifle, if the bull has a broken leg, neck or what-have-you, I don’t want him to suffer. Also if the bull is in a fear frenzy and I think a person is going to be killed, I will choose the people over the bull.
In this case I was able to get the bull back into the field with the help of the neighbor and a very nice highway patrolman. Everything was ok. It was, however, the most exciting day of my vacation! Stopping traffic on a major highway as I chased a bull around – people in cars were taking pictures of me! I’m sure it was an unusual sight.
These guys are big and strong. Despite what cartoons depict they are generally not violent (dairy bulls are a different breed though, I was always told Jersey Bulls are actually mean). In fact, my experience has been cows that have new babies tend to be more likely to come after you. But when these bulls smell a cow in heat or a new bull, fights do break out – and sometimes there is just nothing you can do to stop them. Some of the worst accidents on the Ranch have involved bull fights.
These bulls generally weight almost a ton when they are full grown. They are solid muscle. They are strong. There is no fence in the world that could totally enclose them when they start going at it. For a while when we would move them or introduce a new bull to the herd we would use squirt guns filled with apple cider vinegar to hose them off with – the vinegar would make them all smell the same so they were less likely to have a fight – it worked pretty well too!