The goal of Underwood Farms is to produce the highest quality beef possible. Towards this goal, we aim to create a registered polled Hereford cattle herd with longevity, good disposition, calving-ease and good efficiency as defined by pounds of weaned calf annually as a ratio of the dam’s weight. Further, we prefer that our herd thrive with minimal inputs beyond our pasture, hay, and a pasture mineral mix. Finally, the end product, a finished steer, needs to have good muscling, marbling, and tenderness.
We do maintain several cow families, including some very high performance families. The only trait that is shared among Underwood Farms’ genetics is doability on grass with no creep.
We are fortunate because we are not economically dependent on sales to other registered breeders. Over the next few years, we will develop bulls that will be attractive to commercial cattlemen, especially commercial Angus cattlemen. Our bulls likely will also be attractive to registered and commercial grass-fed herds. We believe that our longer-term focus could assist us in avoiding contemporary fashions and becoming overly dependent on the latest “curve-bending EPD” bulls. When such bulls appear, we will introduce influence of the bull to our herd for performance comparison purposes. If progeny of the bull materially outperform our bulls based upon our criteria, we will heavily utilize the bull.
Recently, we have segregated our herd into three: High Performance, Excellent Grass Beef (EGB) , and Experimental.
The High Performance cattle are built upon the best genetics available in the Hereford industry today, sometimes combined with some of the better genetics from the 1970's. Our goal is for this herd to exceed other contemporary Hereford breeders in terms of performance in a low-input, grass-based program. We use artificial insemination to breed to top performing Hereford bulls in the world, and we cull aggressively to maintain high standards. We have many quality Hereford cows for sale that will perform well in conditions that test other cows. You can generally buy good, young, bred perforamance Hereford cows from Underwood Farms for around $1,500 each.
Our Excellent Grass Beef (EGB) cattle are well-adapted to living on few inputs outside of grass. Underwood Farms is building a Hereford herd uniquely suited to consistent, high quality grass fed beef. Our goal of our EGB herd is to produce consistent tender grass-fed beef that can grade high-choice or better in roughly 30 months. Further, we are breeding for long-lived, low input cattle that can weather tough times.
It is necessary for feeder cattle to consistently have their nutritional needs met in order to maintain tenderness. Therefore, in order to stick with grass and consistently produce a high-quality tender product, total required nutrients need to be scaled by significantly. Conversion efficiency and lower growth are the only two ways to scale back nutrient requirements.
We at Underwood Farms want cattle to finish with marbling rather than backfat at a later age on grass. We have recently been working with some very old Hereford genetics that possibly lend themselves to marbling more than backfat.
Currently, our grass-based genetics are in short suply. If you are looking to purchase some of our EGB genetics, we have semen available for purchase, and we will consider flushign cattle for embryo sales. Further, we will have EGB-influenced heifers available for sale by the Fall of 2008. Prices have not yet been determined.
Our Experimental herd exists to improve either our High Performance or Easy-Doing herds. Some of our experiments include antique bloodlines such as Lamplighter breeding. Others include lesser-known contemporary bloodlines and miniature Herefords.
Our original herd focus was on HIgh Performance cattle. We continue to improve our High Performance herd in term of easy doing and fertility without sacrificing performance. Additionally, we improve our Easy Doing herd in terms of performance with sacrificing tenderness, marbling, longevity, disposition, or hardiness.
Our hearts lie with the EGB herd, but we believe the focus of much of the registered Hereford industry these days is on performance as defined by weaning weight, yearling weight, rib eye area, and marbling. We maintain our high performance herd to provide other breeders with good seed stock and to keep abreast of current registered cattle trends.