We are doing ‘bull beef’ for the first time this year which means that there are 44 large and raucous bulls rather than steers in 2 sheds up the yard!
Why? Well, it should be more profitable. We have kept the occasional bull calf ‘whole’ in the past to ‘clean’ up the occasional cow or heifer that may not have gone into calf via Artificial Insemination and they always killed out an average of €250 higher than steers. The disadvantage, of course, is that all the fields they were in during the summer required strong electric fences with strong electric currents going through them, and of course, you have to be extremely careful when herding them. Bulls will occasionally turn on each other, perhaps most of them bullying a single one or they will bully each other ‘turn about’ and if they do that to one of their own, well, what they could do to a human doesn’t bear thinking about.
I should have taken a photo of them in the fields but I never got close enough!! It did occur to me some weeks ago that while Bord Bia are doing wonderful work encouraging foodie bloggers to cook and write about Irish food, including Irish beef but perhaps they should also be encouraging the producers of that food to blog too – the vegetable farmers, the dairy farmers, the beef farmers, the sheep farmers – apart from the fact that the consumers of our fabulous food could read about how it is produced, blogging would be great for farmers!
Here’s 38 of them coming in from the fields to be housed for a couple of months before slaughter. I’m standing there with a sprong to ensure they don’t go into the shed and start pucking at the straw bales!
The difficulty with them too is that you can’t mix them. If we had them in groups of 6 or 8 (which is what is recommended), we then wouldn’t be able to mix groups later on if half of the group was sent to the factory. We had to remove 2 who were lame and put them into another shed, we won’t be able to reintroduce them to the main group now. They are in a shed and Brian had to install electric wires above their heads to stop them ‘riding’ each other. Yes, there’s a lot of frustrated testosterone making them pretty active!
They are almost up to ‘adlib’ feeding which means they will be fed solely on meal and straw until they are slaughtered in the new year. Are we ever sad to see steers or bulls go to the factory? Very rarely, it is part of nature – they get two good years before they are slaughtered. I would never eat veal though, I don’t agree with killing young calves although I’m happy enough to eat lamb – yes, I know that doesn’t sound right but I guess I feel lambs are out at grass for a few months before slaughter, veal calves are kept in crates and fed on milk to ensure the meat is as white as can be.
I do have one story about a bullock we were all very sad to see go to the factory but that’s for another day
I’m off to the Women in Agriculture conference on Tuesday for the first time. I intended going last year but hadn’t booked a ticket and then hadn’t time to go, it was supposed to be very good. I’m a bit dubious though – so far it looks like it is going to have very traditional fare at it – talks about inheritence and succession from accountants and cookery demonstrations! Apologies to all foodie bloggers out there, I love food like the best of them, I just don’t see the point of watching a cookery demo. At least with cookery programmes they speed up and edit out the boring bits. Anyone got a different opinion that might enlighten me as to the joys and benefits of cookery demos?