We're in the same neighborhood...I'm in NW PA, and I'm largely running my beef operation in the manner you describe. I will caution you about a few items: I have gleaned very useful information over the years from Judy, Elizondo, Gerrish, Pharo, Dr. Allen Williams, Gabe Brown, Ray Archuleta, Salatin, Heather Thomas, Gearld Fry, etc.. While the principles of soil health and regeneration, desirable phenotypes for these types of operations and operating models at the most basic levels are completely valid, there are minor to major tweaks that need to be made in order to work in a temperate rain forest where winter snowfall levels can reach 400" and long, prolonged springs and early fall/winter make muddy wet conditions more of a problem than drought. Second, you will receive support here as well as sneers and jeers from conventional cattlemen as well as armchair experts. Agmantoo received his share of criticism here and elsewhere until his results spoke for themselves. Don't take ridicule personally...just consider the source and move on. Finally, it's critical to define what your goals are before making major decisions about just about everything...Cattle breed and frame size, degree to which you intensively graze, number of animal units to acre, etc., are all dependent on what you are trying to do. Direct marketing beef? Cow/calf producer? Seedstock producer? Feeder market?
Just a quick note about what I do...I have about 80 head of mostly percentage Lowline Angus (mostly 25-75% LL), mixed with mainline Angus or Devon. I currently run a Devon bull with a Devon/Angus clean-up bull. I direct market beef mostly locally, but I have customers from Michigan to D.C.. About 50% of my customers are grain finished beef customers and the other half are grass finished customers. Which pipeline (grass or grain finished) each finisher enters depends on feed conversion ability and body score as a yearling. I have two ranches that are about 5 miles apart where I separate the brood cows from the finishers. Depending on the time of year, pasture conditions and type of herd, my operation ranges from relaxed MIG (moved every 2-3 days) to mob grazing (up to 4 times/day).
Yes, frame size is critical to profitability, but so is body shape, and butterfat production and dozens of other criteria. Frame size 2-4 are ideal for me, but if I was selling to a commercial market that would be problematic. Most of my brood cows are 900-1000 lbs. There are plenty of old school mainline Angus genetics around (Wye comes to mind) that are small framed, thrifty and low maintenance, and I really like Devon for marbling on grass, hardiness, and calmness. I have a few Murray Grey that fit my system. Cull hard for the characteristics that are important. For me, these are: fertility, meat quality, calmness, low maintenance, buttermilk production, sound feet and udders, and longevity. Any cow that doesn't give me a calf every year is gone. Any calf that struggles to perform without outside extenuating circumstances is a one-way ticket for the calf and momma.
If I can be of any assistance, give me a holler.
I'm will be attempting mob grazing (intensive pasture management) shortly, inspired by Allan Savory, Greg Judy, Jim Elizondo (Living Web Farm Videos), Independent Farmstead (Living Web Farm videos). I have questions and will have more--for sure. I would appreciate any advice on my first questions below. Judy and Elizondo keep emphasizing the cattle should weigh less than 1,000 pounds.
1. If steers are larger than cows and would make up about one half of the herd, why do their herds all have the same size cattle? Do you cull the bulls? If so, why?
2. I'm in northeastern Ohio where summer heat is not an issue so that the Red Poll Judy used would probably not be best. They keep emphasizing that purchasing small, thrifty grazing genetics is one of the requirements to get into this. Where do I purchase such genetics? Could I just purchase a heritage breed? I'm thinking of Devon or Dexter. The Devons seems to be slightly too big? The Dexters seem too small? Any ideas on how I should go about purchasing starting cows?
I appreciate any help. BTW, Jim Elizondo's video series at Living Web Farm is an eye-opener but takes concentration to watch since he conveys so much information.