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Category ArchiveBeef Cattle

American Guinea Hogs &Articles &Beef Cattle &Sustainable Agriculture saboranch on 19 Mar 2015

The Importance of good minerals for weight gain

Just thinking as spring progresses about how to obtain the best gain on newly weaned Guinea Hog piglets and Devon calves.
Calves need a good high-sugar hay base to feed the bacteria in their rumen for good absorption of feed, and the bypass protein that plateful gut bacteria can provide.  They also need a superior mineral program to provide the raw molecular materials for enzyme creation!
The pigs can be fed nearly anything, but they gain best when they have good, efficient, digestion!
SO, how to help them to gain weight efficiently, and provide us with healthy, less expensive meat?
1. Improve their digestion so what goes into their mouths translates into weight gain BETTER!  Raw, organic apple cider vinegar provides the minerals from the deep rooted apple trees, and good potassium (the K in NPK that all life needs), and good probiotics that set up proper enzymes for digestions.  Cattle will eat it free choice, if it’s provided in a tub.  Pigs do well if the vinegar is mixed into one of their feedstuffs, or sprinkled on their hay.
2. Minerals.  If you don’t have a good source of really well mineralized feed, you might also consider a pig mineral.  Minerals are the base building blocks for the enzymes that are required for all metabolism.   Good metabolism = good digestion = weight gain!
Our neighbor found a gain of 50+ lbs per calf at weaning after he was diligent about filling all the mineral tubs on one side of a huge 100,000 acre ranch.  The other ranch manager was not as diligent about the mineral tubs- but had all the same genetics and forage as the first man- and the calves on “his” side of the ranch came in at a lighter weight at weaning.
50 lbs x $1.50/lb sale price x 900 calves = $67,500 extra $$ !!  No that’s a bank account addition we’d envy.
If you don’t have a good source of already mineralized milk or whey or eggs for your piglets, invest in a good hog mineral.  Calves will ALWAYS grow better with a good mineral program, and their dams will breed back quickly on the same thing, and their sires will have good, strong, viable sperm with that same good mineral program.
We have used the Helfter free choice mineral program and found 100% breed back in our herd, an excellent percentage of females (great for home-grown herd increase!), and healthy calves year after year.
Having trouble breeding back, or getting weight gain?  Look to your mineral program, either in the mineral tub, or straight onto your fields for bio-available minerals IN you forages and hays!

Beef Cattle &Devon Cattle for Sale saboranch on 15 May 2014


Theresa Katuski unloads 4 Montana Red Devon heifers at the Katuski farm in northern Alberta. Land of the midnight sun, with 6′ of snow in winter and invasions by herds of hungry elk which can eat 2 round bales of hay in a night!!!!, these heifers will start the northernmost Devon herd in North America! (photo by Kevin Katuski)


We are proud to be able to support Kevin and Theresa Katuski’s commitment to quality, locally raised beef- even 4 hours drive north of Edmonton!  Interested only in the delicious hay in front of them, these Devon heifers show their docility, even after a 26 hour trip north and arrival in a new home.


Jenny Kahrl, Montana Red Devons, Harrison, MT 59735.  406-451-6900.  jmkahrl1@gmail.com

Articles &Beef Cattle &Dairy Cattle &Devon Cattle for Sale &Jersey Cattle for Sale saboranch on 19 Mar 2014

Do you want a HEIFER or a BULL?

Most of us would like to choose the sex of our calves, at least part of the time.  Dairy herds resort to expensive sexed semen, which still contains a good percentage of Y sperm, and still often results in bull calves.

10 year old grade Jersey ‘Cupckake’ with her 7th vigorous newborn HEIFER calf, uploading colostrum!

There is a better, and often more certain way to obtain the sex you WANT from your best cows.  That 14 year old mother cow who calves every year on a 365 day cycle without a whisper of trouble, and gives you one of the biggest calves in your herd?  Wouldn’t her bull make a great herd bull for your next generation?  How about that beautiful family Jersey with the world’s creamiest milk- don’t you want heifer after heifer out of her?

With careful planning and a minimum of effort and extra expense, there is an easy way to achieve the desired sex of your upcoming calf.

It has to do with the HEALTH OF YOUR COW!  A cow must be well mineralized and have a body pH that is moderately alkaline to conceive a HEIFER.  If her body pH is more acid, she has a high likelihood of conceiving a BULL.  Yes, the bull has a hand in it, but the cow is in control.  Have you ever noticed that the majority of calves in the front end of your calving season are usually heifers?  Those are the healthiest cows- they bred up, or bred back, the most quickly last year.

Although this fat Devon/Angus steer (just weaned at 9 months) is standing in front of a feeder, these three days post-weaning are the only days he’ll see a feeder. Otherwise, his deep heart girth and mineralized good health will allow him to admirably compete with his herd mates for his 15 lbs of daily hay during the winter months, to gain weight easily on a 100% grassfed regimen, and to stay healthy until butchering at 22 months.

How do you get there?

Here are several tips that have worked for us in conceiving the calf sexes that we’d like:

1.  Remineralize your pastures!  The most expensive method up front, but the one that gives the most returns to YOUR ranch over time, is to improve the health and productivity of your own soils.  Minerals are most available to the cattle from mineralized, healthy plants.

2.  Mineralize your cattle!  While cattle would rather get their minerals from healthy plants, the bacteria in their gut can digest and incorporate ground up rocks from the mineral box.  Purebred cattle, with their lack of hybrid vigor (yet how could we have hybrids without those purebred genetics??) DO probably need a better mineral program than commercial hybrids.

We have had the best luck with Jim Helfter’s ABC Plus free choice mineral program- 100% conception, 100% healthy calves across 5 years- a record that pays for the more expensive minerals.  We tried Mark Bader’s Free Choice minerals, but lost 6 out of 31 calves to anemia- never took their first breath, or died within 24 hours- pretty expensive!  We have also talked with numerous cattle producers, from around the country, whose cattle “will not conceive & carry a calf with artificial insemination”, or “who only conceive bulls, not replacement heifers!”  Our universal advice is to improve their mineral program.  Cattle KNOW what they need on a daily, seasonally adjusted basis.  Give them choices, and they’ll keep themselves healthy.

3.  Give your mineralized cows adequate rest after nursing that calf, before calving again.  While most cows CAN calve out healthy calves, and rebreed, with only a 45-60 day dry period, their body recovery and condition is more likely to conceive a bull.

We have found that if we give our average cows- Devons, crossbreds, or the higher producing Jerseys, all 100% grassfed- at least 80 “dry” days, and then rebreed them in the 70+days postpartum window, we’ll get heifers.

The highest producing cattle, usually the ones that are thinnest going into the dry period and have raised the biggest calves, might need a longer dry period, and an 80-90 day rest post partum while they are only nursing, to give you a heifer.  Three of our smallest commercial red cows (who were also raising the fattest calves with the highest meat-to-bone ratio) received 150 days rest after their 5th consecutive bull calf, the last of which we sold as grassfed veal last year.  Each one of them conceived a heifer the following year.

If our goal is bulls, we can stress our cattle a bit more.  Good minerals are still a must, as deep bodied bulls only come from healthy mothers.  However, if one allows last year’s calf to nurse a bit longer- a 60 day dry period for the cow- or rebreeds that cow quickly postpartum, at 45-60 days, the next year’s calf is likely to be a bull.

4.  Select and cull your BREEDING herd, keeping only the healthiest cows.  Keep the cows with the 365 day breeding seasons (the next healthy calf arrives 365 days after the previous one).  Those cows have proven their genetic herd worth.  Fertility, mothering, ease of calving, longevity, are all embodied in those older cows.  No sense selling the “average” ones if they still work for you.  Just don’t keep their offspring in the breeding herd- that’s where your sale barn or retail beef program comes in handy!

These “best cows” will still give adequate bull calves to maintain the development of sale bulls, but you’ll be able to build your replacement heifers easily, and have plenty to sell over time as replacements and breeding stock for others.  We only make real money on a cow AFTER her 4th calf.  The best breeders have a good stock of old ladies, still producing healthy calves!  That’s where we should be seeking our next round of semen, should we go “off ranch” for new genetics.

I always ask WHY do cows conceive like this?  My theory:

The male offspring of a “cow interested in genetic longevity”, a bull, normally gets a LOT of chances to create that cow’s grandchildren.  If she’s a bit stressed at conception, her genetics will pass down more easily with a bull calf.

The female offspring of that same foresighted cow will only bear a few calves during HER lifespan.  Far better to conceive that heifer calf with the possibility of deep heart girth, great mineralization, adequate body fat to carry that heifer calf to a healthy, strong birth, and healthy “grand calves”!

Have fun, fall in love with the old ladies who still have healthy heifer calves at their sides, and enjoy the challenge of building sturdy, low maintenance, sustainable genetics for the 21st century of grassfed producers!


Beef Cattle &Devon Cattle for Sale saboranch on 19 Mar 2014

Why Montana Red Devons?

If Devon heifers like these are your cup of tea, they’re ready to be added to your herd!    Reserve now for spring 2019 pick-up.  406-451-6900 cell.

Montana Red Devons commits to NOT BABYING OUR HEIFERS!

Weaned 3/16/14, at 9 months old (notice the awful March corral mud!), these fullblood Devon heifers will continue on a “range diet”.  No feedlots for these girls!  We’ll give them just enough hay to do well, then dry rangeland grazing for the rest of their summer lives until breeding.  They are bred and raised at Montana Red Devons to do well in the arid West!  They’ll thrive on whatever your ranch has, without needing pampering, feed bunks, extra rations, or fancy fermented feeds.  We treat these girls just like any other range cow, so you can do the same.

All Montana Red DEVONS are 100% GRASSFED!

A classic Montana Red Devons registered Devon heifer. 9 months old at weaning, fat as a tick after competing with the rest of the herd for her 15 lbs of 1st cutting hay each day all winter. CAN DEVONS THRIVE IN THE WEST? YOU BET!!

Fullblood Devon heifers(weaning weight avg. 570lbs) and Devon/Angus heifers(weaning weight avg. 633 lbs) available for sale.  Call for pricing and availability.

Jenny Kahrl, Montana Red Devons, Harrison, MT 59735.  406-451-6900.  jmkahrl1@gmail.com. Facebook Montana Red Devons.

Beef Cattle &Devon Cattle for Sale &Sustainable Agriculture &Uncategorized &Wildlife saboranch on 02 Feb 2014

Can docile Devons deal with Predators??

This was photographed at 1pm in the middle of the hayfield where our Devon herd was feeding. The deer was killed the previous night by coyotes, cleaned up by 10 bald eagles and numerous magpies, ravens, etc


Devons as small as this first calf heifer, with a pudgy heifer calf due to her high butterfat milk, have no trouble protecting their offspring from our various predators. Docile to all humans, great mothers! This calf has CREAM on her muzzle at the end of nursing, not milk!

Devons have adapted beautifully to the high altitude, predator filled dry land pastures of the high mountain West.

Questions?  Mark and Jenny Sabo, Harrison, MT 406-685-3248. saboranch1@gmail.com

Articles &Beef Cattle &Devon Cattle for Sale &Sustainable Agriculture saboranch on 09 Aug 2012

Choose gentle Devons for better gain on Grass

Article after article, rancher after rancher these days, is looking for better gain in their cattle on fewer and fewer inputs.

As fuel costs rise, and hay, and gasoline to run a vehicle to check on cattle in the fields, we all need to find the solution for minimum input and maximum gain.

Devons can be the answer!  “…recent studies at Oregon State University evaluated the impacts of temperament on gain performance, reproduction and health parameters…”    and found that cattle with poor temperament negatively affected all the above parameters.

Not taken with a telephoto, Devons are among the most gentle of breeds. Fertile, extremely easy keeping, intelligent, and able to adapt to any environment. The perfect breed for producer safety and beef gain!

Beef Cattle &Devon Cattle for Sale saboranch on 22 Feb 2010

Our first Rotokawa Devon heifer- Sabo Abby born 5/11/08

Sabo Abby (Sire: Rotokawa 93, Dam: Rotokawa 958) photographed Feb 2010, after a winter eating only standing grass and 20 lbs/day of 1st cutting hay.

SABO ABBY (Sire: Rotokawa 93, Dam: Rotokawa 958) photographed Feb 2010, after a winter eating only standing grass and 20 lbs/day of 1st cutting hay.

Sabo Abby, just after she was born in a May Montana snowstorm, the first of our 2008 calves.  Abby is an ET(embryo transplant) calf, borne and nursed by one of our Red Angus heifers.

SABO ABBY, just after she was born in a May Montana snowstorm, the first of our 2008 calves. Abby is an ET(embryo transplant) calf, borne and nursed by one of our Red Angus heifers.

SABO ABBY is the first of our growing herd of purebred Rotokawa Devon cattle.  The eldest of our 8 current Rotokawa Devons, Abby is gentle, intelligent, and remarkably easy keeping.  Although she was carried by and born to our most slender Red Angus cow (in her first pregnancy!), Abby is showing her Devon genetics well.   We will be harvesting embryos from Abby this summer.   We look towards increasing our Montana-born Rotokawa Devons for ourselves, and other cattle ranchers seeking their easy keeping, easy fleshing, tender, 100% grassfed genetics.

ABBY is not for sale, as we are building our current herd.  We will not be selling our Rotokawa embryo Devon heifers (Sabo Abby, Belle, Callie, or Dora), but will be harvesting embryos once from each of them, and might have embryos for sale if all goes well on that endeavor.  ABBY’s full brother, Sabo BEN, is for sale, photos coming soon!

We have more Rotokawa ET bull calves (born May 2009) here than we will need, and will be selecting which to sell next spring, 2011.  They are looking terrific at the moment, even in the dead of winter!  Look for a post coming soon with photos of our 2009 crop of Rotokawa Devons!

For more information about our Rotokawa Devons, or our Devon crossbred cattle, contact us at (406)685-3248, saboranch@gmail.com

Beef Cattle &Dairy Cattle saboranch on 09 Nov 2008

Managing Our Cattle

Our cattle are 100% grassfed, and also consume apple cider vinegar, kelp meal, and a cultured yeast , free choice, for greater health. We use fencing and management of our livestock to keep our watercourses clean and our land welcoming to wildlife.

Our Devon beef cattle herd is a mixture bred from our North Devon bull and Red Angus cows. We continue to select over time for gourmet, tender, flavorful 100% grassfed beef. We use no hormones or backgrounded antibiotics, and have no feedlots of any kind.

Our calves are born in the spring on green grass, in May and June, and are not weaned until they are at least 9 months old. North Devon cattle, in particular the Rotokawa Devon herd that sired our bull, are well known for tender, gourmet 100% grassfed beef.

Our Jersey influence herd of cattle is also 100% grassfed, grazing out in the fields all summer, and supplemented in the winter months with the most nutritious hay we can grow. Our breeding program seeks out the most adapted genetics for 100% grassfed Jerseys, slowly building a top quality herd for creamy milk and tender gourmet meat.

We milk our cows only once a day, and calves live with their mothers at least part time until they are 4 months old, then nurse once daily until they are at least 9 months old. Each Jersey cow, depending on her conformation, is given at least 2 months rest from lactation before she calves again, allowing her to dedicate her energies to the healthiest calf possible.

For more information about our grassfed beef, see the Guidelines and Philosophies page.