Pregnancy comes about at Crooked Creek either by Natural Service, (bull in the pen with the cows) or Artificial Insemination (timing of estrus and insemination of semen by qualified technicians). Pregnancy care plays an important role in the longevity of the cow in our herd and the health and vigor of the calf at birth. Cows give birth after a 9 month pregnancy. Nature provides (in the cow world) that she is built to "rebreed" after a 60 day post partum period if all goes properly. Thus she is actually milking a 2-3 month old calf at the time her body signals it is again time to become fertile and begin the next calf season of pregnancy. Pregnancy includes a dry period (resting or non-milking) for 4-5 months prior to the next calving.
We select our sires (bulls) from the top 10% of sires in the nation based on growth potential, body type, and finished meat quality traits. This selection process ensures that the meat you serve your family is of the highest quality.
Healthy calves hit the ground at Crooked Creek in March and April for our Spring calving herd or Sept and October for the fall calving herd. Healthy calves weigh 65 to 75 # normally. On day one or two of a calf's life at Crooked Creek, he or she is given an ID tag essentially "naming" them as an individual with that number. To reduce stress, bull calves are castrated as day old calves. Disease resistance and health and vigor are provided by Colostrum from Mom in the day or two after birth. Calves spend a happy carefree 6-7 months enjoying milk, pasture or hay and "creep feed" (starter feed designed for calf needs). Healthy calves regularly interact with each other and regular and frequent "games" can be witnessed between the babies as they grow.
Creep feeding is the process of supplying a supplemental feed to calves before they are weaned. This critical step in the process highly influences the taste, texture, and quality grade of the final product. Crooked Creek is unique in this area compared to many other farms and the beef that you purchase at the store. This step ensures that the beef you receive is of prime or choice quality grade.
Weaning and growing: Weaning comes at 6-7 months of age when calves are regularly eating free choice creep feed and grass or hay. Our hay source is locally grown and harvested at the peak of quality. The ration will change somewhat from the creep to the grower ration, with less starch and more high quality fiber/protein sources in their daily ration. Weaning is the 1st real stress for a calf and care is taken to provide adequate cover from elements, freshest of feed and water and fenceline contact with mom to reduce stress. Calves are then "grown" on a specially designed grower ration till about a year of age. Weight gain tests are conducted at Crooked Creek during this phase. Valuable results from our genetic selection and meat quality can be obtained from evaluation of these gain tests.
More on Creep Feeding
Creep feeding before weaning teaches the calf how to eat on its own. This reduces the stress of weaning the calf from its mother. Weaning is often the most stressful part of the animals life and teaching the animal to eat prior to weaning greatly reduces the opportunity for the calf to get sick after weaning. This step in the process allows Crooked Creek to farm without the use of drugs or steroids, which are found in over 80% of the beef sold today through normal retail channels.
The steak from Crooked Creek begins many months ahead, prior to breeding. Genetic selection plays a significant role in the final product: tenderness, rate of growth, even the size of a final ribeye are all part of the genetic planning. Genetics plays an important role in planning for replacement females in the herd, because factors such as ease of calving, temperment or disposition and milking ability are genetically measured and passed on from generation to generation.
A heifer is a young female that has never had a calf. Crooked Creek heifers are selected based on their genetic potential, the history of their mothers and grandmothers performance in the herd, their own growth, and veterinarian measurements and recommendations. Still growing: at this phase (around a year to 13 months) replacement herd heifer potentials are selected, based on visual appraisal, physical measurements by the Veterinarian and growth records of her. A heifer is a female that has not given birth to a calf yet.
At this phase steers (casterated males) move into the final phase of growth with the specialized "Make My Steak" ration until processed at 14-16 months around 1200 lbs of weight.
Better Than Corn Fed
In the spring, summer, and fall our calves live in grass pastures and are fed our proprietary diet low in corn (starch) and high in digestible fiber. This diet more closely matches the natural diet of grazing animals and is Eco-friendly and sustainable for the Crooked Creek farm.
6. Make My Steak
Make My Steak phase: arrangements are made with our local award winning processor (25 miles from the ranch) for processing of your beef quarters or custom cut halves. Transport time (less is better) to the butcher affects quality of your product. The trip to the butcher is the only trip off the farm ever made by an animal during its productive life here at Crooked Creek. Born here, raised here, finished here.
Aging beef creates chemical changes that heighten flavor and tenderizes the beef. The process changes beef by two means. First, moisture is evaporated from the muscle. This creates a greater concentration of beef flavor and taste. Second, the beef's natural enzymes break down the connective tissue in the muscle, which leads to more tender beef.