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Hobby farm beef cow

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1 Hobby farm beef cow on Thu Nov 12, 2015 1:39 am

lifeflower123


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What do people do who want to try and raise a single or two heads of beef for their own use or local sale. Is there a particular breed, or does anything work. Is it ok to use dairy steers, like I see the feeder calfs in 4H are often Holsteins (I think!). [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

I really like the mini cows like Dexter or Low Line Angus, but they don't appear cost effective for a hobby farm.

Any suggestions? ; and thanks in advance!

http://hdlifeflower.com/

2 Re: Hobby farm beef cow on Thu Nov 12, 2015 8:52 am

niglefritz


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Some folks like dairy steers (or virgin bulls), but you need to remember that they are mostly bone. I don't think you get enough off of them to be worthwhile. Their conversion rate to meat is not all that good either as they were bred for high milk output, not meat.

We have dairy cross because we wish to keep our cow in milk and love beef, and it is okay, but straight dairy we would steer away from. No pun intended.

One dairyman we know says jersey/angus are popular for milk and beef purposes.

Dexter & lowline are supposed to be especially suited to hobby farm use. They are small, easy to handle and efficient. They give small cuts which seems popular for old folks and the small families nowadays. Anyone we know who has them likes them.

There used to be another small breed that was around for a short time and had no dwarfism issues. ..Streamline. I have no idea where they disappeared to or why. They interested us a lot.

Feed is a big deal, sometimes more than the breed. Anything you feed them changes the flavor & texture. We don't touch corn fed beef. Yuck.

3 Re: Hobby farm beef cow on Mon Nov 16, 2015 9:03 am

authenticfarm

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You need serious infrastructure to have even two steers around. Tall, strong corrals and a chute handling system for medical care and loading your steers for transport are not optional. You also need strong barbed wire fences as well as a truck and stock trailer.

For breeds, go to a local farmer and see what's available. Breed is less important than availability. And be prepared to pay the going rate - steers are going for good prices right now, so be ready to pay $1700+ for a single animal ($3-4 per lb.).

Lastly, don't expect to turn a profit. You would be lucky to break even this year, with the high cost of feed. Farmers make their money on economies of scale - ie. volume.

http://www.partridgechanteclers.com

4 Re: Hobby farm beef cow on Mon Nov 16, 2015 10:16 am

niglefritz


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If you don't have permanent corrals (we do not), make sure that you at least have a good number of heavy corral panels. They are useful as you can move them to where you need them, whether to keep the cattle in a certain area or to help direct them.

Strong wire is right...if it is too light you will forever be fixing it. Having more than one wire is important for a good shock (2 or more strands). You only need to have one hot.

Get a good fencer. Not all work as well as advertised. We had one that should have worked for a smaller pasture, but we had to return it to get one that was capable of doing more miles of fence than we will likely ever have. Now we have no issues.

Yes...a good truck and a LOW livestock trailer are important. If they will readily come to grain, that loading chute can be avoided, as you can lure them into a trailer with a tasty treat. I have seen this done with a bull in an open pasture. It took time, but nobody got hurt, the animal was calm and everyone was happy. We have had success doing things this way as well.

If you have a friendly neighbor who is willing to lend you his trailer or his help from time to time, that can help when you are starting...but it is best to have your own.

Another note on the trailer...it is better if it has an panic/escape door (I can't remember the proper name) toward the front end of the trailer. Safety is important.

Cattle ARE expensive right now...dairy and beef. I doubt that you would get your money back from dairy steers right now (inputs are very high), and actually I would think twice about buying beef calves too unless you have found a good deal that is an honest one (no hidden medical problems, bad temperament,  etc). The market is stupidly high for any calves here and even though in MB we have hay, the prices for that are high as well and it is worse the further west you go.

Considering the way this discussion is going, what do you have ready?

5 Re: Hobby farm beef cow on Mon Nov 16, 2015 3:36 pm

heda gobbler

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Good discussion.

I guess the question is, what do you have that is cheap or free or already in place to make keeping a couple of steers worth while?

I sell a couple of steers every year to a hobby farmer who has three large pastures with good fences, lush grass and only a couple of sheep otherwise. It is on a river so water isn't an issue in summer. They don't want to carry the steers over the winter so pay more for steers in their second or third year (Highlands mature slowly, butchering a steer at less than two years generally isn't worth it) . They only want the beef for their own use so don't even need a trailer, panels or a corral, they have the steers trained to come to a bucket of grain and one day in the autumn give the steer a bucket of grain and while it has its head in the bucket shoot it and butcher it on the farm. But that isn't for everyone!

Most cattle are happier with company, you may find keeping one is hard on fences as it tries to go and find company.

Beef is expensive now, so if you want to raise your own it is because you want to finish your own beef and be confident that it was fed and cared for in a way you think is right.

http://www.tatlayokofold.com

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