Garden Diary - September 2017

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British White Cattle

Early in August while driving towards Clinton, New Jersey
I saw some beautiful cattle lounging in shade under the trees.

I stopped at the closest house but the cattle were not theirs. Because they do know the owner I left my information, mentioned I would be away for a week late in August and left, hoping for a reply. Which I did eventually receive, and arrangements were made for a visit.

image courtesy of Diane Gunson, all rights reserved

As if I needed encouragement she sent me
a picture of Snowflake's calf at one day old.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Marvelous setup. Very nice barn, run-in shed in the lower pasture. Stout wooden posts and wire fences, interior electric fences frequently shifted to keep the pastures properly grazed (incredible that a thin strand controls / confines such large animals.) Mineral supplement feeder that have a weather vane so they can twirl to keep out the rain. Salt licks. Water. Silage round baled and wrapped, ready for winter feeding.

The two of us go into the nearest pasture, in which are Francis, the herd bull, a few cows, and two calves. "He's very friendly." Diane says, while scratching his muzzle. That may be for her. He knows her. Even gets treats of stale bread. But Francis doesn't know me, and begins pawing up tufts of grass and dirt. "Now Francis," Diane chides him, "don't do this to the pasture. Be nice, that's a good boy."

I start backing away, keeping face on to him. Diane lifts the electric fence wire, using her overshirt for insulation while touching it. I'm only a few feet further away, but that - apparently - is sufficient. Francis calms down, I calm down, and Diane stays in with the cattle.

British White are polled cattle. But I notice that Francis has horn-like growths. Diane explains that these are scurs, different from horns and not attached to the skull as horns would be. She gently tugs on one, and Francis just peacefully stands there. She explains to me that poll / no horns is dominant to horned. So even cattle with heterozygous Pp genetics are polled / no horns. But even when homozygous for the polled gene they can have scurs because it is a different gene. Having scurs is a separate trait to being polled or having horns.

I love the way Francis and one of his ladies
are having an affectionate nuzzle.

British White are pregnant for 9 months and 8 days, and
they are very much consistent. Diane keeps a chart in the barn.

British White are what's termed a dual purpose breed, kept for both meat and milk. Diane does milk, occasionally, and keeps the cream to make clotted cream. Cream tea, with scones and strawberry jam. Yummy!

The herd is registered as King Fisher Farm, with the herd name of Prince, and herd prefix as KF. She has 30 cattle. Each year two or three - steers or not so good heifers - go for beef, usually at 18 months to 2 years. She does sell breeding stock to other herds - even one up north, into Canada.

Here's hoping for another visit, sometime.

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