We run a cow-calf operation, which means we have a breeding cow herd of nearly 300 cows that produce calves each year. The cow herd is managed and the calves are raised and harvested for sale each year according to the same basic schedule that has been followed at Connolly Ranch for generations. We incorporate the best advances in land and herd management practices that support our core values of preservation, conservation, sustainability and quality animal care. But today we still depend on nature for a good year to bring the rains and abundant natural grasses just like our ancestors did in the 1870s.
Registered Black Angus bulls are put out of the breeding cow herd in December and Januray and kept in the fields for about 1 to 3 months depending upon whether first calf heifers or older cows. Cattle gestate for 9 months and calves are born from around September through December.
Calves are gathered in January and February when they are branded, vaccinated for preventable diseases as recommended by current veterinary guidelines and ear tagged to provide visual identification in the field. The bull calves are also castrated to be steers. We do not give our calves any hormones, implants or sub-therapeutic antibiotics.
Through the winter and spring as the calves grow they are with the cows grazing only on the natural grasses on the open range. Around June when the natural grasses dry for the season, we gather the cattle and sell. The best steers are selected for Connolly Ranch Natural Beef harvest and sale. All other calves are sold at the cattle market, except those heifers kept as replacements for the cow herd.
Then the next season’s calves are born in September through December and the cycle starts again.
Our Feeding and Record Keeping Practices
Our cattle feed on the ranch’s grasslands. The only supplement we provide our Connolly Ranch Natural Beef calves are salt blocks and hay that is generally only provided when we gather the cattle for marking in the winter and for sale around June. The amount of hay at the end of the season depends on the grass level and if it is a low rain or drought year. The hay the cattle receive is primarily locally grown alfalfa, but it is not organic. However, because the calves are still on the cow and in the open range until just before they are sold around June, Connolly Ranch Natural Beef young yearlings will have consumed a small amount of hay.
After the calves are harvested, the only other supplement we may use for the breeding cow herd in addition to hay is a mineral supplement that may be put out from about August to November. New calves born in the fall are unlikely to try any of this supplement given their young age and small size before the grass starts to grow again with the rains.
We maintain records of our cattle to ensure that any sick or injured animal that must be treated with therapeutic antibiotics or other medicines is separated out of the Natural Beef program and not sold as Connolly Ranch Natural Beef.
While drought conditions may require that we modify our routine feeding program for the herd, it does not change our specifications for the steers selected for Connolly Ranch Natural Beef. You can have confidence that Connolly Ranch Natural Beef is guaranteed to be:
- Black Angus cattle
- Locally grown – Born and raised only on Connolly Ranch, Tracy, California
- All grass fed – Only grazing on open range land and never in a feedlot or given corn or grain
- No additives – No growth hormones, implants, antibiotics or feed supplements containing animal by products