Teach Me Tuesday: Bulls aren't the only one with horns

A few weeks ago...well let's be honest about a month or more ago hubs and I got together with our state FB Young Farmer & Rancher group for our annual conference.  Prior to the conference starting we toured local agriculture on one of those tours an idea was sparked for a blog post.  

Someone on the tour... and I am not going to mention names.  Asked why did the farm have so many bulls (or something to this effect)...puzzled I ask what she was talking about and she went on to say well look at all those horned ones they are bulls.

My exact reaction!
  Honestly I think my heart stopped, here is a lady who has been around agriculture, her job is in agriculture and still she holds this misconception that all horned cattle are bulls.  (I will admit she corrected herself about 32 seconds later however it still came out).

So what is all this about...simple not all horned cattle are bulls and not all bulls have horns.  

Here is a picture of some horned cows...these are cows that have been born with horns and when I say cows I mean female cattle.  
Here is a picture of a polled cow...meaning a cow born without horns.  

Here is a polled bull calf from a few years ago. 

 I then realized that I don't have a single picture of a horned bull because well to be honest we don't have any.  You might asked why we don't have any horned bulls and it's simple...horns can cause problems and they are undesirable in meat animals as the horns can cause injuries to the animal it's self or to other cattle.  So all our calves are either polled (meaning they are born without horns) or they are dehorned (which means we remove their horns).  

So let's review... 
Some cattle are born with horns,
they are called horned cattle...
these cattle can be male or female.
Some cattle are born without horns, 
these are called polled cattle...
these cattle can be male and female as well.

Here's another set of examples
Polled Cow
Polled bull calf

Horned heifer calf

I realize that some of you may think that I am crazy for writing this post however it's misconceptions like these that are easily corrected.  And while I have to admit it has been fun to tease our friend about her "blonde" moment there are many people in our area that really don't know the difference.  So let's start small educating others about farms and farming.  We don't have to teach them the difference in types of operations from day one...let's teach them the basics...just like we teach our children on the farm

We didn't start off teaching Wyatt about the vast difference in how people raise cattle,
 we began by teaching him the difference in a bull and a cow, 
between a dairy cow and a beef cow...
we kept it simple...

And now we have this

a 5 year old who can appreciate the birth of a new lamb or calf 
but realizes that without hard work and proper care that lamb or calf will not excel

who spends his days at the farm helping Daddy, milk, feed, and care for livestock

who would rather spend Tuesdays at the sale barn pushing cows that a week at the beach.  
He's a little man who understands and respects where his food comes from 
and how hard someone had to work to get it to his plate.  

He is also the little man who gets mad at Team Umizoomi for misrepresenting how milk gets from farm to table...so I guess after 5 years we must have done something right.  

My challenge to all my ag friends is to start small...
keep your message simple and educate one person at a time.  

To all my non-ag friends take time to ask questions...
no matter how silly you think they are...
the key to understanding farming and farmers 
is asking questions and talking with them one on one...

So until next time....


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