Calling Cattle Names

The only cows we name are any calves that are born from the kids’ cow Annabelle, and our butcher critters. (Although there are a few that gain a reputation and get named.) 

Our kids’ cow herd started out seven years ago with a bottle calf they named Annabelle. After Annabelle was old enough to get bred, we kept all of her heifer calves, so in addition to Annabelle, there’s Anna, Belle, and the latest; Tinkerbell, who is a yearling. Not sure how many more names the kids can come up with from the name Annabelle, but we’ve always let them name Annabelle’s calf if it was a heifer. Anna and Belle have both had calves but instead of any of their heifer calves getting named they were assigned special eartag numbers to remember like 99 and 100.  

I’m not sure why we name our butcher critters but we do. Snorty is this year’s butcher; a red heifer named so for her behavior when we show up to feed her. We usually pick out a steer or heifer that we would normally cull anyway. Any calves that would likely get docked due to a defect if they went to the sale barn are considered for our butcher critter. We feed it out for a few months and have it processed to fill our freezer. It usually feeds our family for a year and a half to two years, but now we have a constantly famished tween wrestler and a growing ten year old who’s started eating more than she used to. 

The past few years the butcher critters we’ve had were No Tail, Sparky, and Red Steer. No Tail was born without a tail. There was nothing unusual that I recall about Sparky except that he had horns and got spunky when we tried to feed him. Red Steer was just born red, which we’ve usually gotten docked for at the sale barn when selling sets of black-black baldy steers and/or heifers.  

With the exception of Annabelle, our cow herd consists of black/black baldies. That’s not counting any red calves that show up as a result of a neighbor’s bull getting in with our cows over the summer. 

Earlier in our marriage when my father-in-law did the picking of what got butchered, it was usually an old or injured cow or bull. Since we didn’t eat much back then, my husband and I got a box or two of the processed beef. My column next week is about waiting for our beef to get processed. We take Snorty down to Black Hills Meats locker in Hot Springs next Wednesday and from there, I only have to wait about three more weeks.

I never understood why we worked so hard to raise good beef for consumers but never got to eat any of it. My father-in-law felt that young heifer and steer calves better served the ranch at the sale barn instead of in the freezer. Once our family started growing, my husband and I started picking out beef from our own herd and I was able to convince my husband that a good young steer or heifer was much better eating. 


I have never appreciated having beef more than now because we’re currently in such short supply of it. It’s comparable to being really thirsty for water and not having any around, only worse.






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