I currently have a herd of 25 angus cows and 39 offspring of various ages from a few months to 30 months in age. We raise grass fed beef and will be marketing the older animals as they finish out on grass. We are trying to operate in a hollistic manner and I am pondering something that I havn't been able to find much research on. I have one bull that I am planning on breeding to the 25 cows. I would really like to maintain a single herd though. Doing so would expose open heifers of breeding age to the bull. These heifers are intended as beef cattle. This scenario raises several questions/concerns.
1. Older heifers from 25-30 months will be marketing soon so was wondering what the impact of them being bred would have on the meat quality if they were to be slaughtered. I know this sounds off the wall (why slaughter a perfectly bred heifer). I am just wondering if any research has been done on meat quality in this situation.
2. Younger heifers would also be exposed (12 months up). These would be held over thru calving and weaning about a 3-6 month old calf before being butchered at around 30-32 months. From what I can tell the French prefer beef from 4-5 year old cows so I am thinking this would not affect the meat quality at all and may actually improve it. I like this portion of the scenario best since it gives me additional offspring.
3. Even younger heifer calves would be running with the bull. I am concerned of these being bred too early. Does anyone know how early these might start coming into heat and if they do come in early (8-11 months) would that be too young? Seems like this would happen in nature if our management was taken out of the loop and they would breed at the appropriate time.
4. Currently all my cows are open and ready to breed for spring calving. I would hope to keep this going. I would be concerned if I left the bull running with the herd all year that over time we would end up with cattle being bred at various times thruout the year.
I know this probably seems bizarre and far fetched to even consider but that's part of thinking out of the box.
I am very interested in hearing others thoughts on this.