All our cattle are raised here at Graham Creek farm and you can truly taste the difference of meat that was raised on open pastures. Cattle grazing are an integrated and sustainable rotational grazing cropping system. In the winter our cows have their choice of feeding on pasture in outdoor paddocks supplemented with hay. They have access to loose protective housing to shelter them from harsh elements such as wind and heavy rain.
Currently our cow-calf operation consists of a purebred herd of Herefords. The production of high quality beef begins the way it has for more than a century in Canada – with the raising of calves alongside mother cows on pastures and grasslands. There is no better method for getting beef cattle off to a good start than fresh air, clean water and the individual attention a mother cow provides her calf.
Our calves are usually born in the spring. Calving is timed to coincide with the new emerging spring grass so the mother cow will have nutritious grass to eat, which helps produce an abundance of milk for her calf. Our calving is almost always done outside.
We prefer the cows to calve within a few weeks of each other. This allows us to keep a close eye on all the cows that are about to give birth, so that if there are any birthing problems we can step in to help. A short calving period also means the calves will reach market weight at approximately the same time, allowing the selling of a uniform group of calves.
During calving, we keep an eye on the newborn calves and their mothers to ensure the calves are thriving. Feeding and bedding areas are available that are sheltered from the elements keep the young cattle comfortable and protected.
Once we are satisfied that all the calves and cows are healthy, they are left to pasture together. Most of the calf-care is left to the mother cow. Some interventions that we take to ensure the health and safety of the herd include vaccinating the calves against diseases, castrating male calves to prevent fighting when they mature, and dehorning to prevent the cattle from injuring one another with their horns as they grow.
Calves are weaned from their mother when they range between 600 to 800 lbs. and are ready to graze and eat grass and hay on their own. The mother cows are also ready to be re-bred for next year calving.
Between nine and 11 months of age the calves have reached a desired weight then typically are grain finished to a weight of 1,350 to 1,400 lbs.