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One of my favorite parts of raising cattle is naming. Every animal born on our property gets a name, even if we know at birth that its destiny is as part of our pastured beef business. I’ve blogged about some of the reactions we get from our customers: Some want to know the name, some don’t.
We started out using names from music, since we got our start in Austin, Texas. Since then, we’ve evolved a system of naming that helps us to keep track of animals through their names, such as their sire, family, group or birth year.
This year, we have two main groups of names. The first group are all calves that are sired by a Devon bull out of New Zealand. All of his calves have names that are places in New Zealand or Australia. So far, we’ve got Hobart, Brisbane, Cambridge, Tamborine and Pukekura. I’m holding out for the one we name “waikikamukau” (pronounce Why-kick-a-moo-cow), which is a small town in New Zealand.
The second group of calf names are for those sired by Red Angus or Black Angus bulls. There is an international identification system for cattle, which specifies a single letter to designate the year of birth in each animal’s ID. This year, the letter is Y. There is a 22-year cycle to the ID (letters I, O, U and V are not used). As it turns out, one of my favorite years for music, 1967, was also a “Y” year. So, most of our the Angus/Red Angus sired calves for 2011 will have names from one of the Billboard top 100 from 1967. Georgy Girl was our first calf of the year. I expect we will end up with Ruby Tuesday, Daydream Believer, Billie Joe and more by the end of the year. What was your favorite song from that year?
Naming each animal makes each one an individual, rather than a commodity. By name, I can usually recall a picture of each animal and its characteristics. When we harvest, the names help me to be grateful to the creatures that provide our livelihood, as well as good food for our family and our customers’ families.