Beef Bulls

“John Patterson from the NCBA, quoting Dave Daly, U of California, Chico. Dave was asked by a reporter why cattle producers castrate bull calves. Someone else had given her the whole tenderness, marbling, dark cutter answer and she wasn’t happy. Dave told her,” we castrate bull calves so they don’t have sex with their mothers, or their sisters.” She then approved of the procedure.”

I was lucky enough to have taken a class from Dr. Daley when I attended Chico State. Actually it was Advanced Beef Production; I took it for fun, because well, I like to learn. I was really nice to learn from someone other than my Dad. I’m not sure how much Dr. Daley enjoyed having me in his class though; I was that annoying girl in the back that raised my hand every 5 minutes with a question that usually started with “My Dad always did it this way, why do you do that way?” But that is a story for another blog post….

I got a lot from the class. For example, that is where I was introduced to Dr. Grandin‘s books for the first time. We all know how that changed my life. I also got to tour Harris Ranch – which was incredible because we were selling our commercial beef to them so I got to see the whole process from farm to fork!

Dr. Daley was really great at teaching us how to talk to our consumers. He tried to teach us to talk about cattle in a way our consumer can identify with, just like he did above with the reporter. Dr. Daley’s beef production class has served me very well because often I see things like this on my friend’s social media and you all know I cannot keep my mouth shut:

This is not a joke. I promise. I don’t know this for sure, but something tells me the “ancients” knew enough not to let animals have sex with their moms and sisters. 

When I was on vacation last month I was lucky enough to be on the Ranch when our neighbor’s bull got in with our bulls. A major bull fight ensued and the highway patrol called us because our bull was on the freeway. That is always one of the most terrifying phone calls to get. My Mom and I took action, she gathered fence fixing tools and I grabbed my rifle and went down to see what was going on.

There is always a chance we are too late. That the bull was wounded in the bull fight or had already been hit by a car. That is why I bring my rifle, if the bull has a broken leg, neck or what-have-you, I don’t want him to suffer. Also if the bull is in a fear frenzy and I think a person is going to be killed, I will choose the people over the bull.

In this case I was able to get the bull back into the field with the help of the neighbor and a very nice highway patrolman. Everything was ok. It was, however, the most exciting day of my vacation! Stopping traffic on a major highway as I chased a bull around – people in cars were taking pictures of me! I’m sure it was an unusual sight.

My Mom, the fence fixer.

The neighbor helped too! The hole was fixed in no time!

These guys are big and strong. Despite what cartoons depict they are generally not violent (dairy bulls are a different breed though, I was always told Jersey Bulls are actually mean). In fact, my experience has been cows that have new babies tend to be more likely to come after you. But when these bulls smell a cow in heat or a new bull, fights do break out – and sometimes there is just nothing you can do to stop them. Some of the worst accidents on the Ranch have involved bull fights.

Big bull

These bulls generally weight almost a ton when they are full grown. They are solid muscle. They are strong. There is no fence in the world that could totally enclose them when they start going at it. For a while when we would move them or introduce a new bull to the herd we would use squirt guns filled with apple cider vinegar to hose them off with – the vinegar would make them all smell the same so they were less likely to have a fight – it worked pretty well too!


Ahhhh to be a beef bull – they only work 90 days out of the year. The rest of the time they just hang out with their buddies. (Every ranch has a different amount of time they leave their bulls in for, some for as little as 30 days, some ranchers never take their bulls out – it just depends on what works for you.)

Their dust bath. They made this because they love dust baths and because they can.


Filed under Ag, Beef, food, photos, Ranch life, Rants, Uncategorized

4 Responses to Beef Bulls

  1. Nino

    Megan, thanks again for the educational ride through your family’s beautiful ranch. This reminds me of a funny interaction you and I once had, if you recall?

    In my daily trek to and from work I am blessed with being able to drive by a few different cattle ranches and happily dream of what my life would be like as a cattle rancher (I know the grass is not always greener on the other side, but hey I like to dream).

    I couldn’t help but notice that the Table Mountain Ranch cattle seemed to always look the best of all the cattle I get to stare at when I should be focusing on the road. So much so that I was inspired one day to ask Megan, “Hey, why do your cattle always look so much better than others?”

    To which she responded, professionally I might add, “you know it’s just genetics, from Fancy Bulls come Fancy Cattle”

    I couldn’t help but to instantly reflect on my 4 beautiful, intelligent and I think fancy daughters so I mentioned to Megan “Hey, guess that makes me a pretty fancy bull, huh?”

    She quickly reminded me though that “It takes fancy cows too!”

    Thanks again Megan

  2. blueyedflicka

    Agree. Irks me when people “think” they know things and have it all wrong but instead of finding out the correct information they continue to assume. And we all know what assuming does…
    It’s sad how one simple FB comment can be turned into controversy. Maybe certain people should just walk around with their own disclaimers attached to them for every time they talk. Sure would make it easier for us. 🙂

  3. Anjanette

    I am a “retired” dairy wife, don’t know if dairy bulls are meaner, though. I just know if they we didn’t get them sorted out before the cows went into the barn to be milked it wasn’t very fun getting them out…had a nice chuckle with the “Sup?” picture…

  4. I love this blog post! So true of bulls. We have a main hiway along our ranch and know too well of those calls. The ones we get at 2 or 3 in the morning are the hearts stoppers, never know what we are gonna drive up too. Usually it’s a drunk local trying to out run the bull in the field after he went through the fence and then tried to walk up to the bulls apologizing for crashing through it! Yeah, seriously that’s happened. I’m a bit south of you in the Sierra foothills. Maybe I’ll run into ya one day on our trips up north. 🙂

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