Criollos can be considered American landrace cattle, more so than a breed. Originally from the Iberian peninsula, these cows were brought with the Spanish in 1493, originally brought to be multipurpose, they have a long history of being used for milk, meat, leather and draft. Coming from the desert country of Andalusia, in southern Spain these cows had already evolved in a hot, dry climate with scarce feed and less water, for these reasons the Criollo are ideally suited for the desert southwest and over the last few centuries have evolved with their terrain, into the breeds such as the Corriente, Longhorn, Pineywood, et cetera. Since their introduction the Criollo had been the dominant cattle raised in New Mexico for a long while before the introduction of the European varieties after which their numbers dwindled drastically.
In studies it has been shown that a Criollo require only 1/2 to 3/4 the amount of feed, water, and pasture necessary to maintain ordinary beef cattle. More so the Criollo which grazes more like a bison than ordinary beef cattle, eats more of a variety of forage and spends more time in a herd covering ground exploring the terrain. They spend less time at water and less time grazing the same patches of grass. Because they are a smaller animal they don’t destroy muddy areas as much. Generally if done right they will have an overall beneficial impact on the land.
The fertility of a Criollo is unmatched with almost no issues in calving with mothers that are tenacious in protecting and raising their calves. We let all our cows birth with no intervention in pasture. Unlike most cattle raised currently, a Criollo bull can tend 50-75 cows, instead of 1 beef bull per 25 cows. Average birth weight is 25-45#.
The Criollo is a smaller breed than most commercial cattle and takes about two years to get to a weight suitable for harvesting, usually having a hanging weight of 200-300 pounds. The meat is lean and reminds us of deer meat. You can see it in their manure or just looking at them from up close that criollos tend to be healthier and happier than ordinary beef cattle. “You are what you eat”. And by eating these healthy, strong, virile, sweet, self regulating animals, I can’t help but whole heartedly believe that those energies are transferred.
↓ OUR COWS
We feed our herds only forage from our pastures, clean well water or acequia water, Redmond natural salt rocks and the occasional apples left over from apple pressing. These cows have never been treated with anything and are strong, virile, sweet, and resilient.
Besides being better acclimated to to our arid dry climate, these cows still heard graze, like bison or pronghorn, have smaller hoofs to help aerate the soil, don’t overgraze if given proper space to roam, have almost no issues birthing, and with their horns will protect their calfs from predators. These cows with varying histories are the original cattle of the American south west and are the best suited for our terrain in northern NM.