Bull Beef

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Mark S
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Bull Beef

Post by Mark S » Mon Feb 04, 2019 8:22 am

I am currently finishing a couple of dexter bulls, currently 11months old. They are being finished on ad lib haylage and 4 lbs Beef nuts/day and are displaying good levels of finish. I aim to have them finished in the next 4-6 weeks and will sell the majority of the Beef to customers. What experience do other breeders have of finishing bulls and do they find that bull Beef is as good as heifers/steer Beef in terms of eating quality etc.

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Re: Bull Beef

Post by Mark Bowles » Mon Feb 04, 2019 8:17 pm

I have never done it, I would assume that the feeding of nuts would impact on the quality of the beef, ie, not as good as grass fed. I have also been told bull beef is not as good.
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Louisa Gidney
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Re: Bull Beef

Post by Louisa Gidney » Mon Feb 04, 2019 8:30 pm

I used to do bull beef back in the day of the BSPS subsidy, as one could make one claim on the entire and get them away rather than the two claims for the steers. Bulls certainly finish sooner than steers.
At 11 months they are not going to have developed a lot of flavour, that's one criticism I used to get. You may need to emphasise to customers that it may be more akin to rose veal than matured beef. There shouldn't be as much waste fat. I've never seen the point of feeding to produce fat that then gets trimmed off & binned.
I've no idea what effect beef nuts will have, have never fed them.
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Rob R
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Re: Bull Beef

Post by Rob R » Sun Feb 10, 2019 2:47 pm

Louisa Gidney wrote:
Mon Feb 04, 2019 8:30 pm
There shouldn't be as much waste fat. I've never seen the point of feeding to produce fat that then gets trimmed off & binned.
Waste fat - I'm not familiar with that concept - the fat is as popular as the beef these days and makes beautiful dripping from the Dexters.

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Re: Bull Beef

Post by Rob R » Sun Feb 10, 2019 2:56 pm

I used to finish bulls when I didn't have much land (and like Louisa, collected the single BSPS payment) and I wrote about it in the bulletin once - I remember being told that I'd ruin the breed's reputation for good eating qualities by one unhappy breeder at the time.

These days we do a lot of conservation grazing and mix the heifers and steers so it's not really possible but we've got a group of 7 now that didn't get castrated soon enough. They're older and look well finished on grass after 3 years but the younger ones do tend to be on the leaner side compared to steers that look the same. They are a lot more prone to stress at slaughter though so handle carefully and ask the abattoir to do the same.

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Re: Bull Beef

Post by Nikola Thompson » Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:49 am

I have produced bull beef but it was 30 months old. It was really lean with an amazing flavour but it was grass fed and left to mature slowly. I took two together and to a tiny abattoir that you book a slot so the stress was not as bad as it could be. Our abattoir was amazing with them and handled them gently.

We are not commercial and only produce beef for us and a few regulars. The bull beef was very popular.

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Re: Bull Beef

Post by Mark S » Sat Apr 06, 2019 12:20 pm

As the bulls have now been slaughtered It is now a good opportunity to give an update on the finishing, carcass weights and prices attained etc.

For finishing The 2 bulls were both housed together and were fed beef nuts at a rate of 4lbs/head/day and ad.lib. Haylage (good quality made June 2018) . For a period of 8 weeks before slaughter, they were bedded down on wheat straw which they also enjoyed eating. The original plan was to have 1 butchered and sold privately, however we did not want to leave the other housed on his own so both were sold to a local butcher who has previously bought finished Dexter’s from us. In a previous reply Rob R wrote that bulls can be prone to stress from leaving the farm to slaughter at the Abatoir. Both bulls loaded/unloaded easily and at the Abatoir walked calmly into a pen. When we left, both bulls were very settled and hopefully stress was minimal

Both bulls were 12 months old at slaughter and the carcass weights were 178.6 classification 0+2 and 172.7 classification 02. We were paid £4.10/Kg Deadweight, however we paid the killing charge and MLC and AHDB levies, VAT, this worked out at £66/bull.

Our view is that both bulls provided a very good return and weights compare with grass fed steers which we have finished at 20 - 24 months of age. It will be interesting to get feedback from the butcher on the meat.

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Re: Bull Beef

Post by ann » Sat Apr 06, 2019 10:08 pm

Have you fed the bulls beef nuts from weaning or just for the last 8 wks and what are your costings for feed. Either way they look to have given you a reasonable return, will be interesting to hear the verdict re the taste of the meat.

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Re: Bull Beef

Post by Mark S » Sun Apr 07, 2019 6:04 am

The bulls were born last March, cows and calves were turned out 26 April. From birth to housing 19 December cows and calves received no supplementary feeding apart from big bale hay which was fed outside from the beginning of December.

On housing all cattle fed second cut big bale silage, the bulls were weaned mid January and fed first cut big bale haylage. The bulls were fed beef nuts from the beginning of February and our total usage was approximately 8 x 25 Kg, which cost £56.80.

Re reference to taste, awaiting feedback, however a few years ago we had a young bull with weak pasterns that we had slaughtered at weaning at 8 months of age for our own consumption, this was some of the best dexter beef we have eaten to date.

On another issue, all youngstock prior to housing vaccinated with Rispoval 4 to protect against pneumonia, do other breeders vaccinate ?

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Re: Bull Beef

Post by ann » Sun Apr 07, 2019 6:23 pm

My sheds are quite open so i have never vaccinated or had any cases of pneumonia.

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Re: Bull Beef

Post by Mark Bowles » Mon Apr 08, 2019 6:48 pm

Your carcass scores are showing very lean on the hook, I would prefer more fat but it looks like you got a good price.
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Mark S
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Re: Bull Beef

Post by Mark S » Wed Apr 17, 2019 6:44 am

Interesting comment on the carcass fat classification, spoke to the butcher on Monday re finish etc. They were cutting the carcasses ready for the Easter trade, he was extremely happy with them and for him (and presumably his customers) he would not have wanted any more fat present.
We have sold beef as freezer packs with a carcass classification of O2 and there was always a good level of fat cover on the steaks and joints and feedback from customers was excellent.
Are some breeders selling Dexter’s to fat ? If butchers have to trim off excessive amounts of fat it is expensive waste.

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Re: Bull Beef

Post by Mark Bowles » Wed Apr 17, 2019 4:42 pm

I have found that grading varies with each abattoir, some grade dexters accurately and some are a mile out making it a bit of a joke. As long as you are happy , and your butcher, then that's the main thing.
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Re: Bull Beef

Post by Rob R » Sun Apr 21, 2019 2:16 am

We don't throw fat away - grassfed fat is in demand but I'd struggle to get them 'too' fat on our species-rich pastures. I think you need ryegrass for that as our sugars aren't very high relative to protein.

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