Wedge-Shaped Cows –

by | Oct 12, 2022 | Kit Pharo | 2 comments

During my presentation in Beaver, Oklahoma, we branched off on a discussion of “wedge-shaped” cows. For many of our subscribers, this is old news. However, most cow-calf producers get a confused look on their face when we mention “wedge-shaped” cows.
We returned home late last Wednesday from Oklahoma. Before going to bed, I decided to go through some of the mail we had received in the three days we had been gone. I started thumbing through an Angus sale catalog – and I came across the picture on the left below. I would describe this cow as a gutless wonder – but the owner said, “This cow will forever leave her mark on our program. She exemplifies what Angus females should be.” I nearly gagged!
You will notice I covered up the brand of this pencil-gutted cow to protect the ignorant. The wedge-shaped cow on the right above is a PCC cow that was still producing as a teenage grandma cow without missing. I would bet dollars to doughnuts, the 3-frame PCC cow outweighs the 6-frame cow on the left. Good, long-lasting, fertile cows will always be wedge-shaped from front to rear – as you look at them from the side as well as from above. They should get wider and deeper as you go from head to tail.
Bulls should also be wedge-shaped when viewed from the side and top – but, unlike cows, they should be wedge-shaped from rear to front. A bull should be deepest and thickest in the neck and shoulder area (broad in the shoulders and narrow in the hips). It didn’t take long for me to find a picture of a pencil-gutted bull. They are a dime a dozen! The bull on the left above, however, must be considered a great one because he is co-owned by four big-name seedstock producers and a big-name AI company. You couldn’t pay me enough to use this bull.
The wedge-shaped, masculine-looking bull on the right above is a PCC bull. Even though he is narrow in the hips, he has a lot more muscling than the long-legged, rectangle-shaped bull on the left. I suspect the pencil-gutted bull is a 6 or 7-frame bull. That’s standard in most seedstock herds. The PCC bull has a 3.5 frame score – but he will outweigh the taller bull by at least 200 pounds. The wedge-shaped PCC bull looks this good on a 100% grass diet. Notice the “happy lines” on his ribs.
The late Jan Bonsma, an animal scientist from South Africa, offered some valuable insight into the importance of the wedge shape when he said, “In most breeds, the show standards for bulls and heifers are based on the conformation of the ideal fat steer. No wonder so many prize-winning bulls are feminine in appearance, while so many females are sterile or subfertile.” I believe Bonsma’s statement is more true today than it was 50 years ago. Most of today’s cows and bulls are rectangular in shape.
Consider this… If five men sit side by side on a bench, where will their bodies touch? If their wives sit side by side on another bench, where will their bodies touch? Male and female of most species were designed by the Creator to look different. A bull should look like a bull and a cow should look like a cow. Masculine bulls will produce feminine cows — and vice versa. This is something the mainstream beef industry has totally ignored for several decades.
What about body length? Body length, for the most part, is an optical illusion. The animals that appear to be long bodied are almost always long-legged gutless wonders. They are all legs with no body depth. When I am showing cattle to a visitor and he says, “There’s a nice, long-bodied animal,” I cringe, because that would be my least favorite animal.
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