BEEF MONTH: Normande are as docile as cattle get
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.”
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.
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.
“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.
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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