Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tom Sawyer sired British White Bull Calf - Updated

J.West's Zeus in March 2011
A wonderul British White cow is my Wanda Mae, officially named Halliburton Boopsie, and I likely should have just called her Boopsie, it does fit her personality. She was one of my original British White heifers and she was nicknamed for a childhood friend who wasn't the most popular or the most beautiful girl in my neighborhood - she was more importantly the most trusted. Wanda Mae gladly took in my Midge doll for safe keeping forever and always when a very bad lady was going to throw her away. I will always remember her fondly for taking care of my Midge.

My cow, Wanda Mae, is as equally unforgettable as my childhood friend. Wanda Mae is a fertile myrtle, a feed efficient femme fatale, a carcass queen, and the most gentle British White cow I've ever encountered in any herd in the USA or the United Kingdom. Why am I talking about Wanda Mae this evening? Well she gave me a surprise Sunday morning. A bouncing bull calf was mewling and hobbling around and announcing his brave entry into his new world.

Grew up to be J.West's Zeus, a working British White bull
I had noticed Wanda Mae looked like she was putting milk on, but she keeps a nice udder in between calves, and she stays fat, and with her deep well sprung rib area she always is mistaken for being pregnant by visitors when she's not! But I poked her udder and squeezed the nipples about a week before, wondering just what was going on. Nonetheless, I was surprised.

Fortunately, I make a habit of recording when any bull jumps a fence, plows through a fence, or seems to magically fly over a fence. In this case, it was Tom Sawyer who was the culprit, and sure enough Wanda Mae is one of three cows jotted down as possibly cycling when he made his pasture break to the girls.

Follow this link for a very short video of this handsome Tom Sawyer sired bull calf. He measured 27.5 inches, which puts him weighing about 67 pounds at birth. The video is from this afternoon, and he is now three days old. Most three day old calves in other breeds will absolutely not let you fool with them. This little guy is above and beyond friendly. I couldn't take a single stretch of video that didn't find him walking straight to me and my camera.

In this clip at the very end his Dam, Wanda Mae, puts her nose right in my camera as well. That's gentle. Make no mistake that the British White breed is truly gentle; from the day they hit the ground they have a curious and friendly nature.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Fox Hill Farm - New York

Larry Lampman is a successful boutique beef producer in upstate New York, where he is now primarily working with British White and Murray Grey cattle. Larry uses lots of Artificial Insemination in his breeding program, and J.West Cattle has been pleased that he has chosen to work with semen from our herd as well, including our senior herd bull, J.West's Elvis, pictured here. The following article is found at , and Larry Lampman was as well featured in the past April issue of the Stockman Grassfarmer. Larry's approach to cattle production and marketing of his product is a lesson in perseverance and success.

The following are excerpts from this article, please follow this link for the complete article.

by Sally Colby
"Larry Lampman is the third generation farmer to live on a scenic Berkshire foothills property that was established as a farm in 1882. Larry’s grandfather raised driving horses and sheep, then Larry’s father and uncle established a dairy farm. When his father and uncle gave up farming, Larry started a herd of beef cattle with a herd of what he refers to as ‘old-fashioned’ Angus and Herefords in 1999. Larry said the idea of a cow/calf operation appealed to him, and was aware that people are interested in beef raised on pasture.

........After a few years of raising traditional beef breeds, Larry started to add heritage breeds known for their ability to thrive on grass: Red Devon, British White and Murray Grey....... Right now, the herd totals 90 animals, 50 of which are brood cows. Larry uses British White and Murray Gray A.I. sires, respectively, on those breeds.
.............“I like to have calves born in May,” he said. “The only time I don’t calve is January through March. But since I feed baleage, I can finish steers at pretty much any time of the year.” When selecting sires, Larry is most concerned with temperament and breed type rather than EPDs. “I want the animal to be tame, and in the case of British White, properly marked,” he said. “Type is most important — the kind of offspring that results from a sire.” As he built his herd, Larry retained many heifers, but he’s now ready to market some registered adult British White females.

.........Larry notes that consumers have an interest in purchasing locally produced food, but with a lack of local, small-scale inspected slaughterhouses, it’s difficult for producers to serve this need. He envisions customers getting together, purchasing an animal, sending a check for their portion; then hiring the farm owner to take care of the on-farm slaughter. “To sell retail, you have to go through a USDA-inspected slaughterhouse,” said Larry, adding that the public actually finances inspected USDA slaughter facilities. “My goal is to be able to call the inspector and make an appointment for him to come to the farm; the farm would be an approved facility for slaughter. It’s the least-stress ending to the animal that’s had a good life on the farm.”

..........Animals for retail sale are processed at a USDA facility in Litchfield, CT. In addition to an array of traditional cuts, an extremely popular offering is custom-recipe hot dogs. “They’re our best seller,” he said. “People love these hot dogs. Senator Gillibrand, a strong advocate for agriculture and on the Senate ag committee, uses these products.” The executive chef at the governor’s mansion purchases locally grown meat whenever possible, including that produced at Fox Hill Farm.

........Larry spends time simply observing his animals, and finds that this, along with routine vaccinations, is the key to keeping the herd healthy. “What we’re trying to do is responsible, sustainable agriculture,” said Larry. “I’m interested in food security and growing more food close to people, and doing it sustainably without using a lot of fossil fuels. I have to run tractors, but I haven’t used any commercial fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides since I started.”

Visit Fox Hill Farm online at

Monday, July 20, 2009

Why You Should Choose British White Cattle

Click on the title link above to visit this blog found at


"A breed of beef cattle know as British White Cattle has made a remarkable transition from being status symbol in medieval Britain to a mainstream purebred beef breed.. ."

"A British White Bull is very hard to beat in a crossbreeding program. If you are wanting to follow the experts recommendation and keep your herd half British and have a preference to white he is the bull for you. He will instill easy calving into your herd and the calves will have lots of grow in them. British Whites are know to have strong genetic traits and the ability to pass them on to their calves. . ."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Randall Cattle Breed

I stumbled across an interesting breed of cattle this past week - Randall Cattle. The following is an excerpt from the breed association's web site:

The Randall Cattle Breed

"Randall cattle are a rare breed of purebred cattle developed in Sunderland, Vermont, on the farm of the late Everett Randall. They are considered to be a landrace breed, descended from the indigenous landrace cattle common in New England in the nineteenth century. Randalls have historically been used as a dairy breed, although they also possess meat and draft qualities.
Randall cattle are variable in size and conformation and have a constitution that is uniquely adapted to extensive or low input farming systems. Historically, the most suitable and natural environment for these cattle has been on small scale forage-based farms, subsistence farms, and homesteads. It is on such farms and homesteads that the unique genetic attributes of the Randalls can be fully expressed."

"Randall cattle are classified as "Critical" by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC), although their numbers, once fewer than 20 total animals, have increased since they were first rescued from extinction in 1985. Randall cattle originated on the farm of Everett Randall of Sunderland, Vermont, starting with his father, Samuel J. Randall, around the turn of the 20th Century. Much of the breed's history is surmised, based on anecdotal and other evidence, but the common thread seems to be that the Randall family kept, bred, and selected their cattle in virtual isolation for over eighty years. This selection and isolation resulted in the Randall breed of today, a distinct animal uniquely adapted to its environment."

The Randall Breed web site has a very large collection of photos, in particular a quite lengthy slide show that seems a thorough representation of the population of these cattle. Reviewing the slideshow you see from time to time white cattle in the mix. It's like a mirror image of a British White herd of cattle where they are predominantly white with black points and you find as well limited numbers of the black-sided example of the British White breed, what we consider 'line-backed' markings.

Also of particular interest to me is the beautifully lyre-shaped horns of this breed that are tipped with black. A review of the photos reflects black-tipped horns not being occasional, but rather most predominant, as is the lyre shape of the horns. The ancient Park Cattle of the British Isles originally had lyre shaped horns, based on the surviving literary references to the breed, and they were tipped in black.

". . . when the milk-white bull with gilded horns. . ." The Georgics of Virgil (c.29 BCE)

Today, you often times see more of a spreading type horn in the remaining horned Park Cattle herds in the USA as well as in Britain, which would be the result of the introduction of English Longhorn into herds of horned Park Cattle most likely in the 18th and early 19th centuries. An example of this would be the photos of horned Park Cattle presented at the Seedsavers Exchange web site. While the verbiage indicates the cattle have the traditional lyre shaped horn, the photos are clearly of the wide spreading variety of horn, not a distinctive upward rising lyre shape.

The Randall cattle were kept and bred in isolation and this perpetuated a distinct type, not unlike the Chillingham herd of England. The critical difference being that this herd was not kept in human isolation, and it is apparent that they are intelligent and gentle animals. The Randall family likely had an original fondness for the line-backed markings and thus they are the predominant physical appearance of this breed today. But, it is very informative to the genetics of this breed to find the occasional Randall that is white with black points. Kevyn Miller of Conner Prairie in Fishers, Indiana with his Randall working steers

One day I hope that someone with both the interest in the antiquity of these genetics and the wealth to take on such a project, will decide to pursue a thorough genetic analysis of the polled British White, the horned White Park of England and the USA, and this very interesting Randall breed of cattle. Perhaps we could try to get some of that federal stimulus money for such a project!

The photo above shows both a red and a black point Randall steer. Apparently, when the breed was originally taken on for rescue there were no red-pointed animals, but over time the recessive red gene presented itself. This is also consistent with the ancient Park Cattle we know today as British White and White Park.

Do you know anyone with deep pockets and an interest in exploring and preserving the ancient genetics of these special breeds? I'll give you a beautiful heifer if you can find someone who will commit to seeing this done and done right!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

British White Heifer Shown at South Texas State Fair

A British White heifer is included in the first Spring South Texas State Fair in Beaumont, Texas. Previously a fall show for many years, this transition to spring seems to be going well. The fair grounds are clean and fresh and the rides and the food are all tasty and fun; in particular the food has lots of variety, I really wanted to try one of those pork chops on a stick, or a cajun egg roll, but alas I looked on in envy, and decided to wait until another day. This video is a short clip of my niece with her heifer, Mazey. Mazey is a small framed heifer, should mature to at most a Frame Score 2 and weight of about 1000 lbs at full maturity. She stands out in the show barn as much for her small frame as for her distinctive beauty and good nature. Follow this link for a short video, and look for more videos to follow on youtube!