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BEEF MONTH: Normande are as docile as cattle get

By Staff | May 2, 2014

WAYNE DEWEY said he enjoys the docility of Normande cattle. “I love being able to walk through the herd,” he said. “No two are identical. Cattlemen love them because they can identity a specific animal from a distance.”

IOWA FALLS – Wayne Dewey poured a line of ground corn and vitamin supplements on the grass.

His Normande cows and calves licked up the feed, a prized addition to their grass diet.

Dewey, who owns Circle D Farm, in Iowa Falls, with his wife, Lisa Dewey, said he’s been raising Normande cattle since 1998 after a friend complimented the breed for its docility.

And that’s what Dewey wanted to hear.

“I remember getting pulled around by Simmentals as a kid,” Dewey said. “I didn’t want my kids to go through that.”

NORMANDE CALVES enjoy the dryness of a corn stover pile, following recent rains that left the feedlot a morass of cold mud.

With his feed bucket empty, he ambled through the scrum of Normande cows.

“That’s what I love about them,” he said. “You can walk through the herd” without a worry.

Dewey grew up on a dairy farm, milking 40 Holsteins. He said his father was once attacked by a Holstein bull, using its head to pull him back into the fence.

“He was lucky,” Dewey said. “He got out of there unhurt.”

But it made an impression on Wayne. If cattle was in his future, they’d be docile.

WAYNE DEWEY pours a corn feed mix in a bunker for his younger Normande animals on his rural Iowa Falls farm. The heifer closest to the camera was part of a cow-calf pair Dewey entered at the 2013 Iowa State Fair.

The Normande, he said, are so calm, “that sometimes it can be a problem.”

He said herding them somewhere they don’t want to go is difficult, “because they aren’t afraid of you.”

Although the cows, like any other animal with young, can be protective of calves, basically the breed is mild-mannered.

However, there is that one exception that comes along once in a while.

Dewey said he and his sons were moving the herd through a gate and one of the cows, which had frequently been aggressive, jumped a fence and ran off.

WAYNE DEWEY attaches a new ear tag to a bull that was being prepared on April 25 to be delivered to a Normande breeder in Floyd.

“I told my sons,” Dewey said, “‘just let her go. She just got a date with the locker.'”

The Deweys raise their herd as show cattle and breeding stock.

On April 25, they loaded a bull for delivery to a Normande breeder in Floyd. Then they traveled to the annual St. Croix Bull Sale, in River Falls, Wisc., where they have a bull in the feed test.

Dewey said his Normande cattle rank favorably against Angus during the St. Croix test.

In fact, in 2010, 2011 and 2012, Circle D brought home the champion and reserve champion bull honors, plus the champion and reserve champion breeding female awards.

“No two are identical in marking. That’s why breeders like them. You can pick them out from a distance.” —Wayne Dewey Iowa Falls-area Normande breeder

Last year, Circle D entered a bull that finished third overall with a daily rate of gain of 3.56 pounds.

The bull he has on test now has a 3.13-pound RDG.

“Normandes are known for their marbling and carcass quality,” Dewey said. “They are milked in Wisconsin.

“The milk is high in (vitamin) K, which make it good for cheese.”

Although the meat has good marbeling, Dewey said, they have very little backfat, generally less than an inch.

Circle D breeding animals have been shipped to Mexico, Colorado, Montana, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Normandes are classed as either purebreds or full bloods.

Full bloods have never been crossed from the original French genetics.

Purebreds are cross-breeds with 15/16ths Normande genetics.

In 2005, the Dewey family was featured in the North American Normande Association October newsletter.

Their farm is seven acres, and they rent 60 acres of pasture for their herd, cutting and baling hay from a portion of those rented acres.

The two Dewey children started showing Normandes at the Hardin County Fair as bottle calves.

Each year, those bottle calves provided the calves they took to subsequent fairs.

In 2005, daughter Renee took a steer to the Iowa State Fair. After finishing second in the ultrasound beef performance contest, with a 3.79 RDA, at the Hardin County Fair; the same animal placed fifth of 17 on the 4-H beef of merit high cutability grid contest; and won the 4-H beef of merit high quality beef grid.

The Deweys have had seven calves this spring and were waiting for five more on April 25.

Three of the calves were artificially inseminated with French semen, Dewey said.

Circle D’s cow-calf herd numbered 50 head eight years ago, but after the children went to college, the herd has been trimmed to 14 cows and 12 yearlings, with two yearling bulls.

“No two are identical in marking,” Dewey said. “That’s why breeders like them.

“You can pick them out from a distance.”

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