We live in Cambridge and have two heifers 22 months old. One Hereford/friesian, one Angus. We want to home-kill before winter comes and I was wondering if this is the right age? They look pretty happy and docile, but wondered if there was a way to finish them off before the home-kill man comes (we haven't booked in yet). This is our first time - so any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Finish is all about the amount of fat cover they have. If you could post a photo it might help some of us to see what 'finish' they may have. I would think that at 22 months, depending on what your summer feed supply is like, they should be reasonable by now.
Because your heifers are 50% dairy then the finish may not be quite as good as a straight beef animal of the same age. We usually send off heifers at 18 to 20 months of age when they weigh around 500kgs live weight, but they are pure beef-Murray Greys.
Thanks Hoppo! That was quick!
They look nicely covered over the hips and around the tail which is one of the spots you look.
The other spot you would look for fat-or too much of it is the brisket-between their front legs. The red one looks fat enough to me! I would be interested in what others think. For home kill I reckon they would be ideal, they are likely not to put on a lot more as the weather gets cooler, and will eat to keep warm.
No point wasting hay or baleage for not much more gain in weight.
The black one doesn't look quite as heavy, but a bit hard to tell from the angle of the photo.
She is pretty similar, but the red one is just a little taller. Really appreciate your feedback. I guessed that they were looking about right, but I have no real experience, so your input is really invaluable. Thank you again!
Welcome .... and firstly the warning . Home kill must not be sold, and can only be given away to close family members. So for the 150 kg per animal, but you will need to kill both at the same time so about 300 kg of meat, do you have lots of spare freezer space?
After about 25 years of doing home kill cattle I personally think that "finish" is mostly fat. Fat does make the cooked meat more tender, but younger age also makes the meat more tender. And from the experience that we have had over the years, hanging for longer than about 4 days makes the meat more prone to bacterial spoilage than tenderising it.
So 22 months is a reasonable age to kill these animals, but they could be kept for another 12 or 24 months. The best time of the year to kill cattle is May to July if you have plenty of grass. Having to feed hay is expensive and does not help finishing at all. August and September is colder than optimum, which causes toughening of the meat.
I hope this helps.
I would book them in now. They won't get much bigger, maybe a bit fatter. But not big enough to make it worth taking them through another winter.
Most of the Farmers around here book theirs in around May to June, when grass growth slows up or even stops. To that end don't feed baleage or silage for a couple of weeks prior if you can avoid it, some people claim you can taste it in the meat. Haven't had that experience myself, but then we get ours done straight off of grass.
And as Sue said you may not get the same yield from your crosses as a pure beefie. We called out the Homekill on our Dairy Crosses at around 20 months and used to get anything from 180 - 240kg on the hook. Which then roughly (very roughly) worked out to about 90 - 120kg of meat. Still enough to require some creative stacking in a medium sized chest freezer when we did two at once.
Thank you. Great to know. When I commented that 'we have', i should have said that my neighbour owns one and I own the other. We have a spare freezer and he still has to get one. He better get a move on. Looking forward to see whether my Hereford cross with a bit of Jersey on her face tastes as good or better than his Angus. I'm from Hereford so hoping that we win!
It would be very interesting to know if you can tell the difference between the same cuts cooked the same way, and without spices before and during cooking and tasting. Some people can tell the difference and others can't. Jersey with it's softer fat can be quite different. Some people love it and others hate it .
Fairly typical of a hereford jersey cross. We have just sent similar cattle to the works. but they were 16 month dairy beef cross steers. One killed at 235, the other a bit lighter. I see the schedule is trending down again.
Age doesn't matter quite so much for home kill. If they have good covering of muscle on back and rear end, reasonable fat on the brisket, then they should be good eating.
LongRidge wrote: Possibly 50% Hereford. Did she have horns that had to be removed? The other 50% is probably all dairy, but perhaps Friesian/Jersey.