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  • Pat Kirk Angus

Genetically, Even-Tempered Calves with a Story and a Whorl


Pat Kirk’s cattle are curious. They wouldn’t hurt a fly - at least, not on purpose.


The truth is, Pat Kirk Angus raises genetically, even-tempered calves for sale to Iowa farmers and local cattlemen. The herd is bred and raised for quality in both conformation and temperament.


Even the hair on Pat’s bulls show that this herd has the genes for even-tempered offspring. We’ll explain more about that a little later.


But first, here's a little story. On one particularly cold January day, Pat’s assistant got on the wrong side of the Kirk calves, or so she thought.


Before taking the calves to sale on January 25th, 2021, Pat’s marketing assistant came out to the farm to get some snapshots of the calves. Having grown up on a farm herself, the assistant, Julia, was prepared. Bundled in her winter overalls, neck sock, and the like, Julia walked around the farm snapping pictures of the calves.


“What can I do the help,” she asked Pat, feeling a little useless with only a phone in hand and all the pictures she needed already taken.


“See that green barrel in the far corner of the calves’ lot?” Pat responded, “ You can grab that for me.”


So climbing over the gate and walking straight through the cattle yard, the assistant confidently headed out on her important task.


That’s when she noticed it. The calves were watching her. Surely, they were just curious.


But the farther she walked into the lot, the more “curious” the calves became. Jumping and trotting, the whole herd of 50 calves ventured closer and closer. They seemed startled by her every move.


Those calves wouldn’t trample her just like in the John Wayne movies… would they?


Maybe I’m not the farm girl I thought I was, the assistant thought to herself, I better play it safe.


While trying to maintain her composure, the assistant changed route and headed for the safety of the other side of the fence. Needless to say, Julia did not want to get on the wrong side of these strong, 500+ pound Angus calves.


When she reached the fence, she scrambled over to the other side.


Safety, at last!


When Julia had finally returned the barrel to Pat, the assistant mentioned to him, “I don’t think those calves like me very much…”


With a knowing tone in his voice, the seasoned, cattle farmer replied, “They wouldn’t hurt a fly. The calves are just curious.”


The truth is, Pat Kirk’s cattle ARE curious. They are even-tempered and spunky, but not aggressive. The herd is bred and raised for quality in both conformation and temperament.


But do genetics really have that much impact on each animal's temperament? They do! According to the University of Georgia, cattle genetics have a lot to do with temperament and, together, they should play an important part in how farmers select their breading stock (Halter Training Beef Cattle (uga.edu)).


Okay, if bloodline impacts how calves will turn out in terms of temperament, what should you look for to know if a calf will be even-tempered or violent? What things show the genetics for cattle temperament?


Remember that hair on Pat’s bulls from the beginning of the article? Research is showing that cowlicks on the heads of cattle, called whorls, show whether an animal is prone to a good temperament or a bad one. This is important to observe when picking out a calf to buy. If the whorl on the forehead of a calf is centered, generally, its disposition is mild. On the other hand, when the whorl is higher than eye level, this usually correlates with an aggressive temperament.


According to Oregon State University Beef Cattle Sciences, “Cattle with hair whorls above the eyes are typically more temperamental compared to cattle with hair whorls located either between or below the eyes”( Beef Cattle Library - Reinaldo Cook TEMPERAMENTx (oregonstate.edu)).


The significance of whorl location is interesting when considering the health of beef animals. We've consistently seen that sickly and mentally impaired calves are prone to having un-centered whorls. You'll notice that these calves are off a little bit.


So how can you know that the Pat Kirk calves are even tempered?


From as far back as the 1930s, the herd that is now Pat Kirk Angus has had a strong history of good-tempered sires. Although owners of the herd did not have the information we have now with research on whorls, the bulls they added to the herd’s bloodline were characterized by high-standard cattle genetics. These included sires from the Chicago Cattle Congress and the Denver Stock Show. Aggressive cattle genetics were not tolerated in this herd's background.


Now, as Pat decides which Angus sires add to the closed herd, he pays close attention to temperament and whorl position. All of Pat’s bulls have whorls that are generally centered, and, though they are massive animals, each of the Pat Kirk bulls is good-tempered. Even Pat’s biggest bull, weighing in at about 2,550 pounds, is docile.


No bad tempers here!


When you pick a Pat Kirk Angus calf, you can be confident that it has a strong bloodline and long history of well-tempered animals. Pat Kirk’s cattle are curious. They wouldn’t hurt a fly - at least, not on purpose.


Are you interested in adding high-quality Angus calves to your herd’s bloodline? The 2021 calves' due date is March 25th.


Contact to learn more!


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