We are starting the new year with a new project. We recently brought home a small herd of Kerry Cattle (as well as six Dexter heifers). We are doing this as a partnership with our friends, the Dean Family. The partnership enables them to keep the Kerries as commercial milk cows, while providing a source of beef feeders and replacement heifers for us to raise and sell.
The Kerry is a frightfully rare breed, and we are honored to be apart in preserving the breeds unique genetics. However, conservation was only a part of our interest. Rare Breeds are important and there is no better explanation of why than this essay from Auburn Meadow Farm.
Our long term interest is developing the Kerry as a minor breed of commercial value. I would like to see increased interest among dairy farmers looking for a long lived, moderate size cow who can provide both beef and dairy production with less feed costs. While we are committed to breeding with only Kerry semen or bulls on the rare cows, our Kerry bull is enjoying his work crossbreeding on cows of other dairy breeds.
Why the Kerry?
We spent a lot of time discussing this project before taking the plunge into the Kerry. Here are some reasons:
I like the fact Kerry Cattle are black. Whether feeders or fat cattle, black hair is worth extra money at the sale barn: (sometimes even if their carcass is inferior to a Hereford). For a dairy farmer, a pure black bull calf should bring a premium over a Holstein bull calf as well. A Kerry Bull on a Holstein cow should always give us a black calf. Kerry cows are also small, and I think there will be a growing market for smaller sides of beef for the freezer trade.Many people no longer have freezer space for a 400 pound side (half) of beef. Small calf birth weight mean less work and worry as well.