Raising Cattle, I have never been on a farm or around cattle?
I am thinking of purchasing a couple of cows, to raise for meat. The way this country is headed, I figure I best start now. Is it hard to raise cattle? Any special shots? Anything important that I need to know? I will have only about 4 acres, will 2 cows be OK? What Brand is best for butchering?
- Anonymous1 decade agoBest Answer
Hey, cool, I do this!
4 acres will support 2 cows, by cows I mean mothers, but you're stretching that acreage to bring 2 cows and 2 calves up to market weight. You'll definitely need to supplement with hay.
Cattle are pretty easy to raise in terms of mortality. Ask some local farmers what they're using for shots, etc. Some of that will matter on what area of the country you're in.
What "breed" (not brand) you like to eat depends on what you like. Some people swear by Angus. But it also depends on what you feed them and how they're raised in terms of activity level, etc.
Here is my recommendation........try starting off with bottle calves. You won't have much money in them so if one dies it's not a big economic loss, and you'll have time to learn the ropes as you go. What you'd do is contact several dairy farmers and see if one is willing to sell you day-old bull dairy calves. They're useless to the dairy farmer. You'd have to feed them with a bottle, then switch them over to feed and hay or grass. Later, the feed mill would switch you over to regular feed.
With bottle bulls, you may want to castrate them but you don't have to. The last one we butchered we didn't castrate, we butchered at about 800lb. and the meat is great!
You will need to get meat processing equipment, though, and that is expensive. Some of that needs to be 3-phase, so you'll have to get a phase converter and learn to wire it in.
Any questions, contact me at
This is a very rewarding hobby!
- 1 decade ago
FortuidnousSkeptic gave you wonderful advice. I just wanted to comment on the butchering question. My family has raised cattle for several generations. We never butchered our own cattle. We always have taken our cattle to a local meat locker and had the butcher process the meat. Look for that locally. Also - you receive a LOT of meat from one cow/bull. Do you have the room to store that? My family's local meat locker also stores meat for people for a storage fee. My mother would just go to the meat locker and pull out what we needed for the month and keep it in the freezer at home.
Also - one other thing. When you bottle feed and raise an animal it becomes a pet -- remember that when it is time to butcher and then eat the meat.
- TommyLv 61 decade ago
Wow. Good idea, probably not enough acres. Depending on your location, weather conditions and forage; five acres might be enough for one cow for three months. Or it could be enough for three cows up to three months. Then you can always truck in from the feed store! More money.
Type in 'Grazing Cattle' on a Yahoo search, for plenty of info. It also depends on what age you will buy. You will also find some good information, and more what you are looking for, by doing a search on 'Raising Livestock At Home'.
Also check out http://www.beef.uni.edu
This should take you to the Beef Cattle site of the University of Nebraska.
I have considered your idea myself but no longer have any land. Think about a new freezer (if you don't have one) and some good cuts of range fed beef from a local butcher.
Second, consider finding a small cattle producer and dealing to buy before he goes to auction. These producers usually butcher a few for their own freezer and sell the rest.
Regardless of where you live, one of your best sources will be a County Extension Agent. You will also find producer and seller information through people associated with your county fairs and local feed and tack stores.
Finally, no pet names right from the start. If you get a calf to raise call it Hamburger; a pig call it Porker.
If you are looking at the real trouble this country is in and survival; look into growing sprouts at home and various types of hyrophonic farming. You can grow enough greens for an army battalion on less than one acre. The U.S. Army did it in India in WWII. Stock canned goods and seed for sprouts; while you work and wait for your steaks.
My thought would be to go with growing greens in 'root misted' trays and feeding same to myself and rabbits; and maintaining a few chickens. A step up, and easy on vet costs and upkeep, would be feral hogs, ie. the European Wild Boar. Cost, per pound of protein, among the best and you can cater feasts, sell them for meat or breeding, and make paint brushes with the bristles! Primary info on the hogs can be found in Western Canada. There are breeders in the U.S., Missouri, etc. Good luck on your venture.
- Anonymous1 decade ago
I've considered doing the same thing; I wonder how many of us there are who are thinking about a place up on a mountain somewhere that will let us ride out upheavals??? I would talk with a farmer or veterinarian about the proper care for cattle. You might also want to consider milk breeds.
- How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
- Charlie PLv 41 decade ago
Why cows? They are very inefficient producers of protein. If you're looking for beef you have to have cows but chickens, turkeys, geese, sheep, goats, and rabbits are all better choices. Grain is much more efficient use of land. But you'll have a big problem trying to feed two cows on what 4 acres will produce.
- 1 decade ago
Whether four acres (about 1.8 ha) is enough for two cattle depends on your land. If it grows good grass, yes, certainly, in the summer. What will they eat in winter? If you're really lucky with the grass you could make enough hay or silage, but you'll probably have to buy it in, especially if your winters are long.
If your land is dry, or acidic, very wet or otherwise poor, it might not be nearly enough. My cattle winter on heathland (very acidic sandy heather land) in southern England, and they are a bit overstocked at one to four or five hectares (10 or 12 acres). In summer I can get away with one to a hectare (2.5 acres) on marshland -- but that floods in winter (actually, it's nearly under water now, in this year's British Monsoon).
You could do bottle calves, as Fortitudinous Skeptic suggests. Alternatively, you could buy yearling steers (castrated males) and rear them for a year or two -- you'd have less time to wait till your freezer was full. Have two of different ages, and you'll stagger the killings.
Dairy bull-calves are worth considering and will be cheap, but if they're extreme dairy they won't come to much. I would not keep a dairy breed as a bull though -- they can be savage bug*ers. Bull-beef tends to be lean, but you may like that.
When you do kill them, make sure they are hung properly -- three or even four weeks. Far better flavour, and more tender. We have our beef hung and processed by a local butcher, who joints it and vac-packs it for us.
Or just one cow, with its calves. If it's a heifer calf, sell it, if a bull calf, eat it (castrated, or he'll get his mum -- they have no shame). At any one time you'll have the cow, latest calf, year-older calf and one ready to sell or kill. You'd have to send her to a bull, or AI her. And if she's reasonably milky and well-fed, you could get some milk off her too.
You could fit a lot more sheep or goats on that land...
If you're squeamish about naming your food, don't do it at all -- stick to beans... Being eaten is a noble and worthy end for a beast you've loved and treated well. Meals in our house begin "For whom we are about to receive..." (or would if we weren't sceptics too).
Actually, this is a bit of a problem with cattle, even for hard-hearted farmers like us. You eat them at two or three years old, just when they're growing up and getting friendly. Lambs and chickens are eaten much younger, when they are still irritating adolescents.
As to breed... Commercial dairy or beef breeds are highly bred to milk or grow at very high rates -- but need very high feed intakes, and often have health problems. More traditional, low-input, healthier breeds will probably suit you much better. If you are thinking of a house-cow, a traditional dual-purpose might do, such as (thinking of UK breeds) Lincoln Red, Dexter (small and sometimes tricky), Shorthorn, Normande (French, and beautiful), Irish Moiled or the milkier ones of the British Whites we keep. South Devon is another one (different from the American Milking Devon, which is really a dairy form of North Devon, a beef animal in the UK). Angus might do -- or dairy calves sired by beef bulls, such as Hereford or Angus crosses. Beef breeds would be OK if you don't want to milk (or have very strong hands): Hereford, Highland, Luing, Galloway, North Devon, Salers, White Park, Welsh Black etc. Do talk to your neighbours.
Incidentally, Charlie P is not really correct to say that cattle are poor producers of protein -- it depends on the system. They are not as good at converting feed into protein as some other animals, but the feed for those animals will be grain you have had to buy. However, cattle can use good grassland far far more efficiently than chickens or pigs -- and cattle, sheep or goats will still thrive on poor grassland where chickens would starve. Grain may be a more efficient use of grain land, but not if you feed it to animals first -- only if you eat the grain yourself! Cattle is a far more efficient use of range-land.
Are you prepared to give up all your time? No holidays, no weekends...? No money.
Apologies for long post, but you did ask...
- butchLv 51 decade ago
call a crop insurance agent - see if your county has livestock coverage you can purchase