Our cowherd is based upon genetics from the traditional British breeds, Black Angus andRed Devon, for moderate frame size, calving ease, and grass finishing efficiency. We manage a "closed" cowherd, meaning that we replenish our aged cows by retaining heifer calves born into the herd rather than by purchasing cows from outside farms. This enables us to maintain and improve the health, fertility, and vigor of our cowherd.
Replacement heifers (young females) are selected from our calves based upon the historical performance of their dams and sires on our farm and for the promise they have shown in their first sixteen months on an all-grass diet. At approximately 18-20 months of age, our replacement heifers are bred to a carefully selected herd bull that best compliments her genetics and are then placed with either our spring or fall cow herd if they settle (become pregnant.) The gestation period is approximately 9 months and we cycle our spring cowherd to achieve tight calving in a 45-60 day period (Feb-Mar) just before Virginia's spring lush, and our fall cowherd to achieve tight calving in a 45-60 period (Sept-Oct) entering Virginia’s fall lush. Cows that fail to become pregnant, have difficulty calving, raise poor calves, or are poor keepers are culled from the herd, leaving us with strong, grass-fed performers that are well adapted to the specific environment on our farm. As a result of our rigorous genetic selection and sound animal husbandry, the health, fertility, and vigor of our cowherd is constantly improving and many cows remain productive in our herd beyond fifteen years.
Genetic diversity and improvement for such key traits as fertility, mothering ability, thriftiness, vigor, and carcass merit is accomplished by purchasing herd bulls from reputable breeders who are maintaining the traditional British breeds, Black Angus and Red Devon, in sustainable grass farming operations. With the Black Angus breed, we are fortunate to have several superior local breeders, who can provide us with bulls acclimated to our local environment. The Red Devon breed is regaining the popularity it enjoyed in the 1800's, but unfortunately there are only a few reputable breeders producing the quality we demand. Accordingly, we have established a network of Red Devon breeders from Pennsylvania to North Carolina from whom we are able to source our replacement bulls. Fortunately, we have had very good results with these bulls acclimating to our local environment.