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Shetland Cattle now in USA

 
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Hi, I'm new to Permies but wanted to introduce myself. I go by Dan, my wife Carol and I have a small...what I call "Micro Ranch" in North Texas. We've been building our homestead here for a few years and since I've always been one to try unique things, I decided to bring a new breed of cattle to this side of the world that had previously only been in the UK. Enter Shetland Cattle! Since we bought this 22 acres back in 2010 I have gone through various breeds of cattle and noticed that most commercial breeds were either finicky about the grass they liked, were too large, too aggressive, or just didn't have everything I was looking for in a homesteader's cow. I stumbled on the Shetland breed by happenstance while browsing forums and discovered that the Shetland was checking off all the boxes... medium-sized, docile, marbled beef, high butterfat milk (and lots of it). Shetland cattle are considered a heritage breed that is listed in the UK's Rare Breed Survival Trust (the equivalent to our Livestock Conservancy) They number only about 800 in the UK, a few in Australia, and now 7 in Texas. Rather than go into all the great attributes of the Shetland cow here, the breed societies in Scotland have done a great job and you'll find that info here Shetland Herd Book Society & Shetland Cattle Breeders Association I also have a Facebook site Shetland Cattle USA

It was a long and arduous project getting the breed established here in the U.S. Working closely with breed enthusiasts in Scotland and the Shetland Islands, I managed to import 15 embryos and 200+ straws of genetically diverse bull semen from 5 different bulls. Getting them cleared through the U.S.D.A and customs and shipped into the U.S. was an administrative nightmare, but I persevered in spite of what all the established cattlemen were telling me here in Texas. The first embryos were transferred into Angus cows in 2017 and the first 3 births were in 2018. I've had 4 more using the same process in 2019. I'll be working on my own website this year but I feel like it's time to get the word out about this awesome breed. You might say I'm a bit partial, but I believe them to be the perfect homesteader and permie family cow/s. Being that I'm starting from scratch with a limited gene pool, I'll be selectively breeding and flushing embryos from females I have on the ranch using the aforementioned bull semen. I hope to be able to implement a unique program while building the herd in that I will be seeking a cooperative relationship with those that purchase heifers and cows from me to ensure genetic diversity is maintained. For those willing to participate, I will be including 1 bull semen straw to get them started on perpetuating full-blood, registered Shetlands. Too often people confuse the Shetland with their fellow countrymen cows, the Highland, but Shetland is a completely different breed. While their perfectly suited for colder climates, I've proven over the last 2 years that they do very well in warmer climates like Texas too! Think about it, Aberdeen Angus came from Scotland...and their black color would indicate a tough time in the heat, yet you find them thriving everywhere.

For those looking to introduce hybrid vigor into their herd, Shetland Bull semen and live bulls will also be available. For natural service in the field, it's likely the Shetland bull will be best suited for smaller breeds like the Dexter, Mini-Jersey and the likes, as his medium-size stature may prevent him from breeding with larger breed cows.

Now that I've found Permies, I can't wait to round out my knowledge in all things permaculture. I'm looking forward to setting up an aquaponics system soon. Please PM me with any questions.
Here's a pic of the 1st 3 Shetland Calves on this side of the globe!

 
pollinator
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Very cool!  I imagine it will be quite a number of years until there's enough of a population to enable them to spread out to a significant number of other homesteads.  Do you plan to get additional semen from non-related bulls in a couple more years to keep genetic diversity?

What is typical mature weight and the weight when they would normally go to slaughter?  How does the meat compare to other smaller breeds like a Dexter?  
 
Nathan Benavidez
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Andrew Mayflower wrote:Very cool!  I imagine it will be quite a number of years until there's enough of a population to enable them to spread out to a significant number of other homesteads.  Do you plan to get additional semen from non-related bulls in a couple more years to keep genetic diversity?

What is typical mature weight and the weight when they would normally go to slaughter?  How does the meat compare to other smaller breeds like a Dexter?  



Well it doesn't have to be that many years if I can raise interest and justify the cost of flushing embryos. A cow can sometimes produce as many as 12-15 viable embryos in a flushing. As I mentioned, I have frozen bull semen from 5 different bulls, 40 straws of each. If I had to I could order more from the original source in the UK but I've got plenty to go around for several years.

Mature weight 770 to 1100lbs (1100 for bulls) See also Shetland Beef Steers are sent for slaughter at about 26 to 28 months, off grass, in the autumn. Deadweights are generally around 340 -360kg.
 
Nathan Benavidez
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Just an update on Shetland Cattle in the U.S. I'm very lucky that the last 3 embryos I had imported from Scotland have taken in their respective surrogate mothers. So 3 more Shetland calves on the way over the next 6 months! Two of my cows have been sold to a gentleman in Tennesee so I have a partner now in helping raise the number of the Shetland herd here in the U.S. I need some interest from the West side of the nation in order to make transporting them easier. To date there are only 7 head (soon to be 10) in the U.S. Be one of the first to own this special breed that are perfect for homesteaders. ...and for you show cattle folks, this heritage breed will someday be very popular on the show circuit. Keep in mind they are not miniature due to selective breeding, they are medium in size only a bit smaller than the first black Angus.
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