Every cow has some form of escutcheon mirror. The escutcheon is the representation of:
  • how quickly the cow will come into milk
  • how much milk she will give
  • how long she will give high levels of milk.
  • whether or not she will continue in high milk production or begin a sharp decline after breeding
This is accurate in both beef and dairy cows. The hair in the escutcheon is traveling upward. The wider the handle part that extends from udder to vulva and anus the quicker she will come into full milk production and the longer she will give that production. This is visible on the baby calf.

Butter-fat production is revealed by the amount of hair on the udder. The cows with a bald to semi bald udder are the highest butterfat producers.

This cow has a good escutcheon, she has a lot
of long silky hair on the udder. A cow with long
silky hair has milk fat depression and is living
poor management.

This cow has a very small escutcheon. she will be
low in milk production. wont come into full milk
production until around 60 days. The absence
of the escutcheon extending up to the vulva
 indicates the cow will fail substantially after
the onset of pregnancy.

A very small escutcheon, milk production
 is low. Her peak is half of normal production.
Her calf will suffer from starvation in early
months because of low milk production.

This cow has a small udder and the escutcheon
stops just above the top of udder. She will not
produce milk in abundance.  Her calf
will suffer
from lack of (milk) nutrition.

Selecting for butter fat / milk fat

This is a beautiful bald udder. This is what we are
looking for for butterfat  production.  Her tail is of a
high yellow with large dandruff scales.The wax in
the ear is a high yellow.
The absence of hair on
the udder is the no 1 indicator of high milk fat. 
The more hair on the udder the lower the butterfat.

This is also an indicator of tenderness or fine textured

I call this tail butter. Any animal with high yellow
and flakes on the last 6 inches of tail under the long
switch hair is an animal that produces a high milk
fat content. This animal will also have 4+%
intra-muscular fat. This is also an indicator of
tenderness or fine textured meat.

An animal with yellow wax in the ear is a high milk-fat
producer and also a tender meat indicator. You always
find this with the yellow and flakes on the tail.

This cow has a very good escutcheon, comes into milk
production soon after calving, in 30 days she is in full
production and will maintain that production until the
owner turn her dry. Notice the two white feathers on
either side of the udder. Those feathers represent a high
protein level (solids not fat). I know the record of this cow.
She is a 4.2% milk fat (note bald udder) and a protein
(white feathers) level of 4%.

The escutcheon stops just above the top of udder. She
 is a high producer and will be producing maximum
amount of milk in 30 days. After pregnancy a sharp
decline in production begins.. The owner of this cow
 waits 150 days to re-breed because of that sharp decline.

This cow is a high fat content cow, note the yellow tint
of the tail switch. Note the hairless (bald udder) udder,
she is a 4+% milk fat cow. she is a heavy milker but takes
50-60 days to reach maximum milk production. she will
milk well to the drying off period.

Selecting for Glandular Function

Note the dark hair on the lower neck. this represents the thymus gland activity.

The thymus gland represents good immune function. Note the deep sheen/shine of the hair coat. this represents a very active immune response. These kind of cows do not get sick nor do their calves. If I look at a cow/bull to purchase this is the very first thing I look for. If I cant see a large thymus whorl I am not interested in purchasing the animal. The thymus gland gives the white blood cells their marching orders. If the hair coat and the thymus gland are not visible then the animal is susceptible to the stresses and diseases that plague our industry.

In the dairies that feed a lot of starchy supplements the hair is short and maybe a little sheen, however the thymus and other glands are not very often visible. The sebaceous fluid is not healthy in the grain-fed cows.

A cow with a shinny streak the full length of the top of the back is an indicator that the gland system is fully active.

This cow represents a cow with a perfectly functioning gland system. Note the dark whorl on the lower part of neck at the point of shoulder (denotes thymus gland activity). The thymus gland has to be working it its best to keep the immune system and white blood cells doing their job, protecting the body from invaders (bacteria, infections & disease) manifesting and causing sickness.

Note the dark patch of hair on top of shoulders extending backwards about 8 inches and extending foreword on the top of neck 8-10 inches. This represents a highly functional adrenal gland which is controlled by a highly functioning thyroid gland.

Note the short sleek shinny hair coat, there are no flies on this cow. This is because of her health and the health of the sebaceous secreations or a very active gland system.

If we select animals from cows and bulls of this type our inputs would go away. The only input this cow needs is a prepotent bull with the traits and characteristics you desire.

This cow represents a cow with a highly functional adrenal gland. Note the dark hair on top of neck, shoulders and back. Note the whorl of hair at end of stick.  When the cow is open and cycling the hair in this little whirl is standing erect.  After the 3rd month of pregnancy the hair will relax and lay down, the estrogen has stopped.

This whorl, when between the shoulders blades or further foreword, represents a cow that has a high level of milk fat (3.5+%). If the whirl is behind the shoulders or on the middle of back of the cow, the milk fat is much lower, less than the needed 3.5 to nourish the calf properly for development into a grass-type animal.

Any animal with high milk fat has high intramuscular fat.

Selecting for Fine Textured Gourmet Beef

This cow has a very soft supple skin with short sleek shinny, silky hair. She has a well developed gland system. Note the wrinkles in the skin. The softer the hide the closer the wrinkles are. The closer the wrinkles the softer the hide, the more tender the meat. The soft supple hide has a level of vascularity (blood flow) which is a product of health and viability. Normally a cow with this soft a hide has a high level of milk fat which is highly collated to intra-muscular fat, tenderness and fine textured meat. If you take hold of the hide over the 12 & 13th rib and shake you will see the hide shake over the shoulders and back to the rump area at same time. This is a very important trite we should select for in all our cattle. The veterinarian will tell you that a wound on this soft hided cow will heal twice as fats as the hard hided cow.

Note the clean hocks (no fullness in Achilles area) on this matured animal. This animal will have a tender steak and the connective tissue will melt away with the cooking process. Selection with knowledge allows you to have good meat, muscle mass, production and quality meat all in the same animal.

This is the way to hide score the cow. Take hold of the hide over the 12-13th rib with thumb and fore finger and see how far the hide will pull out from the rib cage. A very soft hide will stretch as much as 5-7 inches and when turned loose will go back in place like a rubber band going back into its relaxed position. The hard hided cow is extremely hard to pinch and pull away from rib cage. The cow with hard hide will normally have more flies than the soft hided cow and a lot of times she will be later shedding the hair. The cow with soft hide is always more healthy.

A breeder should test his heifers and bulls at 10-12 months of age for this trait. This is a critical test for quality and health.

Note the cannon bones on these guys. They do go into an hour glass just under the knee joint. However these guys cannon bone slowly gets larger as you look down the leg to the top of ankle. It blends back into the ankle slowly in size and maintains a slower size increase. These bones are much more dense than the one on left. Their meat will be much more tender with finer texture of meat than the large boned animals.

The smaller the cannon bone the more tender the meat.

The smaller cannon bone will always be a part of the animal with the soft supple hide.

This picture is about tough meat. I will send a picture of a set of front legs that represent tender meat. Can they be put side by side.
Not the large knobby knee on this steer. Note the bone (cannon bone) under the knee joint goes into a hour glass shape and then as you look down the bone it immediately gets large again and goes on down to the ankle. We have been told for many years we need a lot of bone on our animals. The larger the bone the tougher the meat. Large bone are porous bones and represents long strings of fibrous meat which is always tough and a hard hide will accomponany these animals.

We need a small, dense bone for the highest quality of meat. Note the animals cannon bone photo above this one.

This picture represents a calf that the connective tissue is so heavy that when you eat a bite of steak you will have a large wad of connective tissue in you mouth you have remove with the hand.  Very undesireable!  Connective tissue is supposed to melt away in the cooking process.  The area under the Achilles tendon (area where the hanging sticks are placed) is supposed to be skin against skin. Where there is any kind of fullness or puffiness in this area the connective tissue is heavy and in most cases the meat is tough.

This area is skin against skin for the best eating experience.

A correctly formed hock.  Note how the skin and hide nearly touch, wrapping around the Achilles tendon.  This is a sign of very little connective tissue.  Compare this hock to the photo just above it.