Farm Show bull

Frank Stoltzfus with the champion Tidal Wave shorthorn bull at the Pennsylvania Farm Show on Monday.

HARRISBURG — When the Masonic Village at Elizabethtown was built in 1910, a sizable herd of beef cattle provided an early farm-to-table way of life.

Masonic Village no longer grows all its own food for its 1,600 residents, but the cattle herd remains, supplying 39 restaurants in New York City with fresh, never-frozen meat.

And on Friday, a prized bull from the herd, Tidal Wave, was judged champion of the shorthorn breed at the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

The honor will certainly please residents of Mason Village, who keep watch over the herd of 180 cattle on the grounds of the 1,400-acre campus.

“They really take pride in what we do and that they have them,” says Frank Stoltzfus, Masonic Village’s farm operations manager for the last 31 years. “We have 1,600 sets of eyes watching over this farm.”

Residents who gaze down at the herd below their residences are always the first to report new births of calves, Stoltzfus said Monday next to his prized bull.

Aside from being a popular attraction for residents, Masonic Village’s cattle herd has become a prized — and profitable — commercial product.

The high-grade dry-aged beef from shorthorn cows are sold to Happy Valley Meat Co., a Brooklyn company that provides responsibly raised beef directly to chefs in 39 New York-area restaurants.

After aging for 18-20 days at Smucker’s Meats in Mount Joy, the tender beef is then shipped in insulated packages directly to the restaurants.

Unlike most meat purchased in stores, the beef from the Masonic Village herd is never frozen and is allowed to tenderize much longer than commercial beef, Stoltzfus says.

The cows that are sold for meat are cross-bred beef cattle. The purebred shorthorns are used for breeding at Masonic Village and for sale to breeders around the country.

The shorthorn breed of cattle originated in northeast England in the late 18th century.

   Tidal Wave  bested about 15 other shorthorns for the title at the Farm Show. Judging was based on structure, how well he moved as well as his herdsmanship.

 “We’re selling meat on the bone so we want as much meat hanging there as possible,” notes Stoltzfus.

To get Tidal Wave to be such a specimen, the bull is fed a daily mix of 20 to 24 pounds of corn, barley, soybeans and corn distiller’s grain with a dash of cottonseed hulls and various vitamin minerals.

In addition, the bull eats about 12 to 15 pounds of hay each day and drinks 30 to 40 gallons of water.

That’s a lot of food to make a lot of bull. Currently, Tidal  Wave tips the scales at 1,700 pounds.

In the days leading up to his contest, Tidal Wave was pampered with daily rinses, brushed and his white hair was washed with hair conditioner to shine for the judges.  

The bull’s latest award made him sought-after. Within hours of the judging on Friday, the nearly 2-year-old bull was purchased by a Maryland breeding farm for $7,500.

“He’s old enough to be breeding cows so that’s where he needs to be,” says Stoltzfus.

What to Read Next