“Rocky Road” Rector (a bull calf) was born Monday night around 6pm. It was a mild winter evening (28 degrees F), and his coat dried pretty quickly, helped by his mother’s licking. He stood up and nursed within 15 minutes of being born — amazing. He is a day old in this picture, standing with his mother, Raindrop. Alison named him because he looks like chocolate ice cream with marshmallows. Raindrop is half Jersey(via our Jersey “steer” named ‘Chuck’) and half Dexter, so the mash-up must have resulted in the mottling, though his full sister “Red Sox” was pure black when born and grown.
Rocky’s fate is to spend two and a half bucolic years munching our pastures and culled apples and then be put into the freezer. His half-brother Thorn (born to Raspberry last April) will accompany him, allowing us to determine the benefit of raising steers to three plus years, instead of just two as we have been. I’m curious to know if the marbling is different, although we’ve been very pleased with the quality of the beef we’ve received from our Dexter steers so far.
2 thoughts on “Rocky Rector Arrives”
I’m thinkin’ if you go more than two or so years, yer moving from ‘steer’ territory into ‘ox’ country (think ‘lamb’ & ‘mutton’).
Actually, since I don’t work my steers, there’s little danger of them getting too tough. What’s at steak (pardon the pun) is intra-muscular marbling, which doesn’t normally happen until the animal has reached it’s mature size and can now store excess energy instead of putting it to use building muscles and bones. Physical maturity is reached at between two and three years for most breeds. Before they have matured, the fat tends to be stored outside the muscles, and therefore the meat is very lean (think veal and pork). The beef industry has gotten around this natural process by essentially gavage-ing animals with cheap corn and then messing with their hormones by injecting them with steroids and other “growth promoters.” A feed lot calf is typically slaughtered around 18 months. Old-timers complain that although it’s well marbled, modern beef lacks “flavor” which can only be provided by mature muscles (think lamb vs. mutton). My experiment will be to see if there is any difference with two steers who are born 10 months apart.