Stories of life on our farm in Northwest Georgia where every day is an adventure in this beautiful spot that God has entrusted to our stewardship.

Our Breeding Philosophy & Our Herd

Our breeding philosophy is simple.  We want to breed good quality, gentle Dexters for beef and milk for our family.

We'd like the name Zephyr Hill to be synonymous with good Dexters.  Why?  Because it takes just as much money to feed a bad cow as a good one, so why not breed a good one?  We don't believe in producing "throwaway" calves just to get a cow in milk.  If we don't want to keep a calf, we want it to be one someone else will be glad to get.

Every time we take control of an animal's life by matching up a breeding pair, we want to bring into the world a calf that is an asset to the Dexter breed.

Having said that, let me introduce you to our herd.  Some of them live on our farm, and some have joined us temporarily through lease or AI.  Click on their names to see their online pedigrees with the American Dexter Cattle Association.

Mrald Crown Royal

Royal at 2 months
Royal was born June 11, 2013.  He is red (does not carry dun), heterozygous polled, homozygous A2, and is halter broken, having gone to shows with his dam.  He has a friendly personality and has been very easy to work with.  Royal joined us in January, 2014 as our herd sire and settled his first cow in June at one year of age.  We can't wait to see his first calf in April, 2015!  

We are very excited about adding Royal's genetics to our herd.  His sire is Llanfair's Cinnabar. His dam Mrald Electra was recently classified as Excellent with 87 points, including maximum points for udder conformation.  This is what the Emerald Park Farm website says about her dairy capabilities and stats:
Our first Frederick daughter we have milked! Electra is Knotting X Circle H bloodlines and is EVERYTHING her pedigree says she should be. We weaned her calf at 7 months of age. She was the easiest cow I have ever trained to milk. Even through the stress of weaning, she got in to the groove and started letting down our third round. Her milk is SO tasty and rich! It is now obvious why her bull calf was so fat and happy, her tests revealed an average butterfat content of ......drum roll.......just over 8.03%! Her highest tested 10.07%. WHAT ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? Her protein content is also remarkably high at 5.33% We milked her once a day and by her 5th day she started really getting in to it and ramping up her production. She started giving over 1/2 gallon each milking when we decided it was time to dry her up. What a fantastic little Dexter!
Stay tuned for upcoming photos of Royal.

ZH Zephyrhill Siobhan

Siobhan, almost 3 years old, in lactation with her first calf, October 11, 2013

Siobhan (pronounced Shih-VAHN) was our very first Dexter calf, born Nov. 4, 2010.  She has a great temperament and is very friendly, a definite improvement over her dam.  She's an excellent mother, which she learned from mama Sara.  I began training Siobhan to milk in August 2013 when her first calf, Macree, was 2 months old, getting a little over a quart when she is separated overnight from Macree.  Siobhan has taken extremely well to being milked, especially considering I had never milked a cow before her!  She goes into the stanchion readily, has never offered to kick, and learned to let her milk down after the first few tries.  She loves to eat feed in the stanchion, but when she's done she stands as long as I need her to.  Siobhan is very vocal around feeding time or if her calf has gotten separated from her.  She comes running to meet us when we go out in the Kubota RTV--she knows there are treats in back, and she loves her food as much as her mama did. 
  • Color:  Black, carries one gene for red.  (ED/e)  
  • Polled:  Heterozygous polled.  
  • Chondrodysplasia:  Non-carrier (HN).
  • PHA:  Non-carrier (HN). 
  • Milk beta-casein:  Heterozygous, A1/A2  (A2N).
  • Genotype:  On file with ADCA and Texas A&M.
  • Registration:  ADCA #030903
I chose Siobhan's sire, Hillview Red Wing, after doing a lot of online research and talking to several Dexter breeders.  We were advised to choose a sire that would improve on Sara's udder and contribute an excellent temperament.  We knew for sure that we wanted a polled calf.  Red Wing's name was suggested to meet all our criteria, and he really came through for us, giving us a beefy heifer with nice length, a better udder than her mother's, a feminine face, and a marvelous personality.  She is sweet and friendly and easy to handle--everything Dexters are reputed to be.

As a teen, Herb helped out on a family ranch in West Texas, and he couldn't stand cows.  It took some talking to convince him to check out Dexters in the first place.  Now he tells everyone that Siobhan is the first bovine he's ever fallen in love with!  

Siobhan's breeding & calving history
2013 - Macree, black polled heifer by FF Lil' Christmas Cash, born June 5.
2013 - Pasture bred to FF Lil' Christmas Cash for a May 24, 2014 calf.

In February, 2011 Jeff & Kim Newswanger (who sold us Siobhan's dam) came by to visit us and Sara and to meet Siobhan.  Read Kim's account of meeting Siobhan here.

ZH Siobhan's Macree

Siobhan and Macree on June 5, 2013, several hours after Macree's birth
Macree, Siobhan's first calf, was born June 5, 2013.  Her name is Irish for "my heart."  We're thrilled to get a heifer, the spitting image of her mother at the same age.  We sent her tail hairs to A&M immediately because we wanted to know if we'd be keeping her.
  • Color:  Black, carries one gene for wild type (red.)  (ED/E+)
  • Polled:  Heterozygous polled.  
  • Chondrodysplasia:  Non-carrier (HN).
  • PHA:  Non-carrier (HN).
  • Milk beta-casein:  Heterozygous, A1/A2 (A2N). 
  • Genotype:  On file with ADCA and Texas A&M.
  • Registration:  ADCA  #031843
Eventually Macree will be for sale, but we are delighted with her laid-back temperament, and we know that she will make someone a really nice cow.  She has begun her training as a milk cow by being tied up next to Siobhan for milking, and Macree has learned quickly where she's supposed to stand to get her bit of food.  It doesn't stop her from trying to reach Siobhan's feed when her own is gone; she has definitely inherited her dam's and granddam's love of food!  She has a mind of her own and is not shy about going where she wants or not going where she doesn't want, but she's being trained to lead and coming along.

New Hope Ebony Belle

Ebony, 2 1/2 years old, on her first full day with us, October 12, 2013

Ebony joined our family on October 11, 2013 from Hope Refuge Farm in Kentucky.  She is the granddaughter of our first cow, S&H Hilltop Sara, and therefore the niece of our Siobhan.  Since Ebby just arrived this week, I'll let her first human mama, Kim Newswanger, describe her:  "Bold, feisty & friendly are the best words to describe this pretty little girl.  She’s a stout, solid young cow and an absolute sweetheart.  Ebby has been a joy as our first Rousseau daughter.  She is currently in her first lactation and doing well with her training as a milk cow.  So far her udder structure & milk production are looking to be well-improved over her dam’s, as well as her body depth.  She has a nice straight topline, good width, and great feet & legs."
  • Color: Black, carries one gene for wild type (red), does not carry dun. (ED/E+ B/B)
  • Polled: Heterozygous polled.
  • Chondrodysplasia: Non-carrier. 
  • PHA: Non-carrier. 
  • Milk beta-casein: Homozygous A2 (A2/A2). 
  • Genotype:  On file with ADCA and Texas A&M.
  • Registration:  ADCA #024860.
Ebony's breeding & calving history:
2013 - Zoie, black polled heifer by Joy of Illinois Mace, born April 9.
2013 - AI'd to Woodmagic Hedgehog III, for an April 15, 2014 calf.  If it's a heifer, she's already sold back to the Newswangers and already named, but I'll leave that news for Kim to tell!

We are so happy to have Ebby as part of our family to be our A2 milk cow next spring!

The following bulls have contributed their genes to our herd through AI, on-farm breeding or lease.

Hillview Red Wing

Red Wing is owned by Butch and Karen Howell of KHeart Dexters in Idaho, so he joined us by AI.  We took Sara to a nearby genetics clinic to be AI'd.  Red Wing is homozygous for red and polled, negative for PHA and Chondro.  He's known for his great temperament, throws mid-sized calves, and improves udders.

Unfortunately, a second AI breeding of Sara by Red Wing did not take, but we will enjoy his genetics in our herd for many years to come through Siobhan.  Red Wing is, very sadly, now deceased so we are extremely happy to have his daughter, Siobhan.

FF Lil' Christmas Cash

Cash wants to meet Siobhan!

As a first-calf heifer, Siobhan was still growing at the time she needed to be bred.  A previous AI breeding did not take, and I was actually relieved because I had begun to have second thoughts about a big calf for her first (and that AI bull tends to throw large calves).  When I called Sally Coad of Freedom Farms in Philadelphia, Tennessee looking for a bull, she and Warren graciously accommodated us on short notice to breed Siobhan to Cash on-farm.  I was very happy to find a short-legged bull that would likely produce a small calf, and Herb was very happy to find one such a short drive away!

Cash is heterozygous polled, heterozygous A2, red (carries no dun), carries one Chondrodysplasia gene, and is PHA free.  Cash and Siobhan's calf, ZH Siobhan's Macree, was born June 5, 2013.  She is polled, heterozygous A2, black, carries red, is non-Chondro, and of course, PHA free.

From our perspective, the best thing about Cash is his docile temperament.  That means he treated Siobhan nicely for her first breeding and that he was an ideal guest on our farm for her second breeding in the summer of 2013.  Cash actually changed Herb's mind about having our own bull.

Oak Farm Serenity Taco

Thanks to the wonders of AI, Taco was able to join our herd even though he is deceased.  We originally bred Siobhan to him by AI, although it did not take.  Not wanting to waste our final straw from Taco with another on-farm AI attempt, we took Sara back to the nearby genetic clinic for AI and kept her there till she preg-checked.  

Taco is polled, dun, negative for Chondro and PHA, and heterozygous for A2.  He contributes excellent temperament as well as feet and legs.

Sara's calf by Taco, ZH Taco's Tundra, was born July 6, 2013.  As expected, she is black, polled and carries dun.  You can see her on Our Herd Archives page.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I LOVE comments so please take a minute and let me know you were here! Sorry I have to use Captcha, but I hope you'll comment anyway! Comments make my day! :)