Breeding Stock

In 2002 we "bought the farm". After 40 years in business the goals that shaped our business success were transferred to Elk. We chose our starting genetics carefully and have worked diligently to make every year count towards continuos improvement. Our artificial insemination program has brought the best genetics in antler performance that we could find. In addition we have purchased a number of top Bulls such as Superstar ( NAEBA 6 yr old typical champion) and Colt 45. ( 62.5 lbs velvet antler). These Bulls were raised on our farm and provided natural breeding for a number of years. If you are looking for quality breeding stock take a look at Regal Point Elk Farm. We have been CWD certified for more than 10 years. We have chosen our genetics to produce strong, clean trophy Bulls with great velvet capabilities. We believe that cows are the foundation of any herd and I can tell you that our cows will produce as well for you as they have for me.

Elk Facts

Bulls

  • Mature bulls are 7 or more years of age and average 800 to 1,100 pounds, stand 5' to 5'6" at the shoulder
  • They are capable of breeding at two years of age
  • Top velvet-producing bulls have large circumference beams and mass above the third tine
  • The antlers’ number of points is influenced by genetics and feed, as well as by maturity
  • Starting every year in March, antlers fall off and regrow
  • When harvested in May or June, 20 to 30 pounds of Grade A velvet should be the yield from a mature bull
  • They dress out at approximately 60% of live weight

Cows

  • Mature cows are 3 or more years of age and average 550 to 600 pounds, stand 4' to 5' at the shoulder
  • Most 16 month old females will cycle if they weigh at least 430 pounds
  • They do not grow antlers
  • They are very good mothers
  • They are born in May or June and spend the first week of their lives in tall grass, usually getting up only to nurse
  • They are spotted when born and develop their brown coats in six months
  • Through natural instinct, the cow watches the calf from a short distance, drawing near when it is threatened

Breeding

  • The rut, controlled by the day/night cycle, is from late August to late October
  • For best success, breeding bulls should be three years old or older
  • One bull can service 20 to 40 cows
  • A bull will gather a group of females and keep them away from other bulls
  • Bulls compete for dominance through bugling, sparring and chasing would-be competitors away. Injuries are rare
  • Bulls and cows go through a ritual before the actual "high-mount" of mating
  • A cow’s gestation is approximately 246 days, + or - 10 days
  • Artificial insemination is common, with a success rate of 50% - 80%

Calving

  • All cows will "bag-up" before giving birth
  • The older the cow, the more "pregnant" she will appear
  • The cow will start to "walk the fences" prior to calving, looking for a quiet, private place to give birth
  • Ensure through controlled feeding that cows are not fat, as this restricts the size of the birth canal and increases the size of the calf
  • Although calving problems are rare, occasionally a cow will need to be assisted. A vet or experienced elk breeder should be contacted for advice on any calving process that is delayed
  • Most cows will accept the calf and immediately clean it, however, on rare occasions the mothering process will fail and hand raising is necessary

Nutrition

  • Elk are predominately grazers
  • Elk eat most upland grasses (e.g. brome) and legumes (e.g. alfalfa)
  • Elk will consume grains (e.g. corn, oats)
  • Elk can consume up to 20% of their diet in browse
  • Elk are efficient convertors of food, the feed intake of 3 elk cows is the same as 1 beef cow
  • The feeding of cows and bulls is slightly different; therefore, it is better to separate them after the rut
  • For a cow, post-rut to calving, feed a maintenance diet of good quality hay, grain optional
  • For a cow, calving to post-rut, feed grain, hay and a high-quality feed rich in protein, vitamins and minerals
  • Bulls should be fed well all year, but especially in the spring
  • During winter, bulls should be fed a much higher quality diet than that of cows, so that they can regenerate after the rut
  • If possible, weaned calves should be kept separate and fed extra during the first winter
  • An elk’s weight at the end of October is directly proportional to its weight at the end of March
  • The calorie intake of an elk is twice as much in the summer as it is in the winter. Feed elk very well in the summer to achieve optimum velvet weights and calving percentages
  • Farmers can put elk on self-feed if they slowly bring them up to that consumption level (full ration)
  • Remember: Feed is the most important part of managing your elk herd
  • DO: Feed the best possible feed. You will get better results, and it costs less because of less waste. Elk pick through poor-quality feed to get the good. Make sure the ration is well-balanced with an adequate supply of copper and selenium
  • DON’T: Pasture elk exclusively on fescue or use feeds with urea as a source of protein

Animal Health

  • Elk are hardy livestock with natural immunity to most diseases Although they can contract normal bovine diseases, they are not prone to do so
  • Internal and external parasites are of concern if you tend to over-pasture or keep your elk too closely confined
  • Consult your veterinarian for the proper drug to treat the parasite. Warning signs are the same as for any domestic herd animal:
  1. Animal off by itself
  2. Head down, ears back, watery eyes, limping
  3. 3. Off feed, swollen body parts, abscesses, lumps
  4. 4. Loss of hair or condition
  5. If you do suspect a problem, call a vet or an experienced elk farmer

Handling Facilities, Fencing & Transportation

  • Plan before you start. Check with OEBA (www.oeba.ca) and with as many elk breeders as possible
  • Elk, like any animal, must be taught respect for the handler
  • Walls of the handling facility should be a minimum of eight feet high
  • Solid walls, under a roof, are recommended
  • Farm layout including the positioning of gates and alleyways is critical for proper movement of animals
  • A fence should be a minimum of seven feet high and constructed of high-tensile wire
  • Treated wood or steel posts should be 10-12 feet long and a maximum of 24 feet apart
  • Elk can be easily moved in enclosed livestock trailers
  • They need room and cannot be crowded during transport

Start-Up Tips

  • Plan before you begin
  • Contact your local Ministry of Agriculture for regulations that may affect your elk farm
  • Contact local elk farmers in this directory and OEBA (www.oeba.ca) for additional information on costs of animals, fencing, feed, etc.
  • Purchase your stock and fencing equipment from reputable farmers and dealers
  • Set up a record keeping system to account for expenses and animal records
  • Elk are a very attractive investment
  • There are a number of options to explore:
  1. Private ownership
  2. Share farming arrangements between investors and landowners
  3. Partnerships
  4. Corporate structure

Portions of this article reprinted with permission of: NAEBA