When it comes to raising happy, healthy cattle, few are more knowledgeable than Stephen Baxter and Weston McCoury, the proud owners of the 1894 Baxter Ranch in Bend, TX. With a wealth of experience and a deep love for the ranching lifestyle, these cowboys do more than just raise cattle—they understand them. Specializing in Angus-Wagyu breeds, the ranch operates with a strong focus on ethical cattle raising and organic ranching. Part of raising health cattle ethically, is understanding cattle behavior and knowing how to respond when needed.
Recognizing Happy, Healthy Cattle
Understanding cattle behavior may seem like a complex task, but according to Stephen and Weston, you just need to know what signs to look for. Healthy cattle are usually active, grazing freely, chewing their cud, and interacting well with other cattle in the herd. Bright eyes and shiny coats are generally good indicators of proper nutrition and overall well-being. In contrast, if you notice cattle appearing listless, with patchy coats and dull eyes, these could be warning signs of underlying health issues.
Knowing When a Heifer is Ready to be Bred
For effective herd management, it’s crucial to determine the best time to breed a heifer. Stephen and Weston suggest looking at a heifer’s age and weight as primary indicators. Most heifers are ready to breed when they are between 14 to 18 months old and have reached at least 65% of their mature body weight. Behavioral changes like increased restlessness or a raised tail are signs that a heifer is in heat and ready to be bred. Additionally, the heifer’s overall health should be checked to ensure that she is free from disease and in good physical condition to carry through a healthy pregnancy.
When to Cull a Difficult Cow
It’s a reality of ranching that not every cow will fit seamlessly within a herd. Stephen and Weston note that cows displaying overly aggressive or hard-to-handle behaviors and those who do not properly care for their calves, should be considered for culling. Such behavioral issues not only stress the other cattle in the herd but can also pose risks to ranch workers. Other factors that may necessitate culling could include poor reproductive performance, chronic health issues, or simply old age. Although it’s never an easy decision to make, culling may sometimes be necessary for the overall good of the herd.
The Ethical and Organic Way
Both Stephen and Weston are ardent believers in the benefits of ethical cattle raising and organic ranching. They emphasize the importance of providing cattle access to open pastures, fresh water, and a natural diet. The belief here is simple: when animals are treated well, they’re not just healthier, but they also produce better quality meat.
The practices at the 1894 Baxter Ranch exemplify the dedication, passion, and expertise required for raising cattle the right way. From understanding the intricate details of cattle behavior to making informed decisions that impact their well-being, these cowboys show that a hands-on, ethical approach to cattle ranching is not just possible but highly beneficial.