May 23, 2013
Farm tour promotes beef
Educators, farmers and breeders spend morning at Truxton farm
TRUXTON — Carl Hinkle opened up his Black Angus farm to a small group of people on Wednesday in an effort to highlight selective breeding of the cattle and show the pasture on which they are raised until sold or sent to a feedlot.
The New York State Beef Industry Council was also present in an effort to promote beef products to tour members, as well.
Hinkle began what he calls a Black Angus cow-calf operation back in 1988 with only eight cows. Since then, his farm has grown to 72 cattle, including heifers, cows, steer, bulls and calves.
According to Hinkle, of his total herd he will send about 60 to 65 percent to the feedlot for slaughter, about 25 to 26 percent kept for breeding, and about 8 to 9 percent culled, or sent for auction.
Hinkle offered a tour Wednesday of his selective breeding practices that comprises about a quarter of his operation to about 15 people, including a few educators in culinary arts at BOCES in Oswego county, local farmers and other cattle breeders.
Hinkle described that along with other cow-calf operations, he artificially inseminates heifers with elite bull semen to improve Angus genetics.
Types of animals raised at his operation include calf, offspring of a cow; heifer, a female species that has not had a calf; cow, female species who has given birth; steer, a castrated male species and bull, a male species without castration.
Hinkle registers his cattle with the American Angus Association, which prides itself in modifying Black Angus genetics by selective breeding.
In 2012 there were 315,007 head of Angus cattle registered, According to the American Angus Association website. States with the most registered Angus cattle include Montana, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Jean O’Toole, part of the council, said the farm tours in the state are funded by South Dakota, as it is a Black Angus cattle heavy state.
Tour members also got a chance to view an ultrasound demonstration by Heather Birdsall, senior educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension, to look at the rib-eye, back fat and inner muscular tissue while the animal is alive rather than after it has been slaughtered.
The ultrasound is one way to determine the size of various animal cuts for breeding or genetic evaluation.
Equity Angus farmer Rich Brown of Port Byron said with the help of the American Angus Association, breeders can measure Angus value by looking at species ancestry, use of ultrasound, and analysis of its DNA.
Mike Baker, beef cattle extension specialist at Cornell, discussed the use of vaccinations of cattle on his research farm as a way to prevent diseases and keep animals healthy, as deer are a large carrier of diseases and have a strong presence in the state.
Hinkle described visual characteristics of a quality cattle that could prove to have good genetics for the breed.
“We look at the showmanship quality, frame size, leg formation and temperament,” Hinkle said.
If steer do not show good breeding quality or genetics, they are castrated, raised to be “feeders,” and sent to a feedlot where they will eventually be slaughtered, Hinkle said.
On Hinkle’s farm, nearly two-thirds of cattle meet this criteria.
The council was on site to promote the sale of beef by providing taste-testing of a few varieties of beef to tour members.
Black Angus farmer Fred Griffen, who was not present at the tour and is not a member of the council, owns High Lonesome Farm in Cincinnatus, comprised of 26 cattle.
He raises Black Angus on a certified organic farm, which is animal welfare approved and licensed by the American grass-fed association.
“Many of us small farmers are trying to re-establish the original Aberdeen breed from Scotland through natural breeding practices,” he said.
Instead of investing in expensive technology and DNA analysis, Griffen relies on select physical observations of the breed to determine a lot about genetics.
Griffen operates a farm-to-fork farm where calves spend their entire lives on one farm before being slaughtered in an certified facility.
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