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  #1  
Old 06/22/12, 09:37 AM
 
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Most Profitable Farm Animal

In your opinion, what is the most profitable farm animal you can have on a farm? How do you market it? How does it make you a profit?

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  #2  
Old 06/22/12, 09:51 AM
 
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From our experience it would be meat goats. We use a boer buck and dairy cross does. We sell at 2-3 months old. No grain (except for lactating mommas). We don't have a regime of worming and vaccinations. We single animal treat for worms, etc. We switched bucks to get better feet on future does.

We give them browze, hay, loose minerals and water. The 2-3 month old kids are only on momma and browze/hay. They pay us $2.00 a pound.

Cattle-Too much hay. Too many tests and stuff to accommodate associations. Takes a couple of years to sell as meat. Drought makes it tougher to keep cost down.

Chickens/Eggs-Feed is too expensive. We do keep chickens for our own use, but quit raising for others.

This is just our experience mind you.

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  #3  
Old 06/22/12, 10:32 AM
 
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Milk cow

Just one...furnish family with milk, butter, fertilizer for garden and a calf to pay for feed and upkeep..

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  #4  
Old 06/22/12, 10:38 AM
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Used to be the hog. They were know as the mortgage lifter.
Don't know about now.

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  #5  
Old 06/22/12, 10:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sherry in Iowa View Post
Cattle-Too much hay. Too many tests and stuff to accommodate associations. Takes a couple of years to sell as meat. Drought makes it tougher to keep cost down.
With cattle, there are no more tests and "stuff" than there are with goats. Actually, there are less tests and requirements.

Cattle are still the biggest money maker on farms. Like with any animal, you have to be able to produce your own hay to make a good profit. As far as cattle eating too much hay, to produce the same revenue per acre with goats, you'll have just as much input costs, but a lot more labor.

Cattle have treated us well over the years. They've paid for 4 of the 5 farms we own.

I will also add that we have 40 goats and will be expanding that this year. They are meat goats.

We produce all of our own hay and we don't grain. The only animals I grain are the does that I milk for home use. When I wean kids, I give them Purina Goat Grower. Otherwise, no grain for the animals. They have to be able to hold their own with the pastures and then with hay in the winter.
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  #6  
Old 06/22/12, 10:56 AM
 
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I say Polypay sheep. They are year round breeders, have multiples regularly and can easily be breed twice year with no ill effects. They are a heavy breed and are used for meat, milk and wool. They are also docile. If I could find more I would definitely have some again. Mine could easily live off my lawn alone.

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  #7  
Old 06/22/12, 11:02 AM
 
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I like all the input, and ideas. It is great to hear the arguments for and against each animal. Its nice to hear some of the details on how you remain profitable. I like the ideas about how a milk cow is profitable in that it saves purchasing from stores. Keep up the ideas.

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  #8  
Old 06/22/12, 11:54 AM
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Different breeds of cows have different needs and perform differently. I have heard people say a dairy cow was a big stupid beast that ate them out of house and home (this person had a holstein dairy farm reject), and also seen it said that their dairy cow was the best creature they had for thrift and that person owned a dexter.

I own a pregnant belmont (thats a dexter/jersey cross meant to be a more dairy type dexter) so I can't say what the milk or meat is like from experience, but I DO know she stays fat and sassy (overweight even) on very little feed. She probably costs me less to feed than my ducks and geese.

I paid twice the price of a dairy jersey for her just because of her smaller size and lesser food consumption and thus far I'm pleased. There seems to be quite a high demand niche market for dexter heifers and the steers are supposedly premium "mini cuts" of beef. My girl is also darn smart and dog gentle.

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  #9  
Old 06/22/12, 12:10 PM
 
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I have some worms. The eat vegetable scraps, aerate my garden, provide soil enrichment, and provide a fine incentive when luring fish onto my line.

Can't say they'll make me rich, but they certainly don't cost me anything to maintain

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  #10  
Old 06/22/12, 12:14 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulNKS View Post
With cattle, there are no more tests and "stuff" than there are with goats. Actually, there are less tests and requirements.

Cattle are still the biggest money maker on farms. Like with any animal, you have to be able to produce your own hay to make a good profit. As far as cattle eating too much hay, to produce the same revenue per acre with goats, you'll have just as much input costs, but a lot more labor.

Cattle have treated us well over the years. They've paid for 4 of the 5 farms we own.

I will also add that we have 40 goats and will be expanding that this year. They are meat goats.

We produce all of our own hay and we don't grain. The only animals I grain are the does that I milk for home use. When I wean kids, I give them Purina Goat Grower. Otherwise, no grain for the animals. They have to be able to hold their own with the pastures and then with hay in the winter.
The ability to make one's own hay is huge! For our small homestead..it's not feasible to make hay and still have pasture left. My reply was basically that of someone who does not have acres to hay and pasture with. Like I said..what I say is OUR example..if we had 80 acres..we would do things differently and maybe cattle would hold their own. And OUR experience is that we have to run tests on cattle (registered) that we do not run on goats (unregistered). It's an extra expense that is a deal breaker for US.

I don't know how big a farm the startupman is talking about. It makes a big difference in what and how many animals you have on it.
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  #11  
Old 06/22/12, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Sherry in Iowa View Post
The ability to make one's own hay is huge! For our small homestead..it's not feasible to make hay and still have pasture left. My reply was basically that of someone who does not have acres to hay and pasture with. Like I said..what I say is OUR example..if we had 80 acres..we would do things differently and maybe cattle would hold their own. And OUR experience is that we have to run tests on cattle (registered) that we do not run on goats (unregistered). It's an extra expense that is a deal breaker for US.

I don't know how big a farm the startupman is talking about. It makes a big difference in what and how many animals you have on it.
I agree. It does depend on the size of the farm. However, when speaking of unregistered goats versus registered cattle, that's apples and oranges. With neither being registered there are no tests, here. However, even with registered cattle, there are not always "tests" that are needed.

I guess the main question for the OP is how many acres are we discussing, where is it located, or what is available for grazing and browsing.

I will say that all things equal.. yes, you may buy more hay with cattle, but they also sell for a lot more and do carry a higher profit margin than goats.

When most people refer to raising cattle, they are usually referring to beef, not dairy... just fyi for the OP.
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  #12  
Old 06/22/12, 12:29 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pancho View Post
Used to be the hog. They were know as the mortgage lifter.
Don't know about now.
What did they used to sell for in your area. They just about give them away over here.
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  #13  
Old 06/22/12, 12:33 PM
 
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Originally Posted by MikeC View Post
I have some worms. The eat vegetable scraps, aerate my garden, provide soil enrichment, and provide a fine incentive when luring fish onto my line.

Can't say they'll make me rich, but they certainly don't cost me anything to maintain
I can't disagree with you there. I have all of about $10 into mine over the last two years and that expense is just for the plastic tubs, lol...Their castings are probably the best fertilizer as well.
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  #14  
Old 06/22/12, 12:51 PM
 
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The question is put out there for the best animals on your property for the situation you are in. Yes it would be good to know how many acres each person is talking about, and how many of each gype of animal is working for you. It would be great to know what part of the country each person is talking about also.

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  #15  
Old 06/22/12, 12:54 PM
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Since cattle for beef are the most in demand, they should make the best income stream. Within that category are a lot of sub-categories. Cow/calf producer and sell at the nearest sale barn after weaning or market them yourself, cow/calf producer - keep calves til harvest age and market your beef yourself, raise dairy bottle calves and sell them or market the beef, run stockers, etc.

One way to get your feet wet with cattle is to get some weaned calves, graze some weight onto them, then re-sell them. That way you don't have to mess with breeding, calving, etc.

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  #16  
Old 06/22/12, 12:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulNKS View Post
When most people refer to raising cattle, they are usually referring to beef, not dairy... just fyi for the OP.
Dairy animals are a good way to go deep in debt in my opinion. You don't make any money on it unless you run a large operation, in which case you need to get even larger since now you've just had to hire help because you can't milk 200 cows all by yourself.
I'm with you, though. Cows are fairly low-maintenance and require very little attention, especially when compared to goats. They carry a much higher production unit price, i.e. 1000 pounds of meat versus 100 - 150 pounds on a goat. This makes it easier to expand.
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  #17  
Old 06/22/12, 01:41 PM
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Imho, most farmer/ranchers who actually make real money on livestock, makes their money on volume. It's just as easy to raise a lot of animals as it is one or two.

If you have to buy feed, your not going to make any money, if your 'honest'... as in figuring in all your infrastructure, food, and vet costs. Most old timers will tell you your not raising beef (or goats) but grass (or forage). Buying hay negates any thought of profits.

I think most of 'us' aren't raising animals for profits, but so we can know what's in our animals... you cannot grow anything cheaper than storebought... but with storebought, you don't know if there's steroids, antibiotics, gmos (for folks that get spooky about 'it'), humane living conditions, etc....

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  #18  
Old 06/22/12, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by wildcat6 View Post
What did they used to sell for in your area. They just about give them away over here.
Back years ago there wasn't any of the giant feed lots. A hog could be put out on the range, let them fatten up or have a litter, then gather and sell. Feed cost were zero, just a little labor catching them.
Things are different now. A farmer cannot compete with the big boys.
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  #19  
Old 06/22/12, 02:13 PM
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For me it is sheep. I dont buy grain at all .... in fall when corn is out I use my dogs and let sheep scrounge for corn an hr or two 4 or 5 days a week for a month or so, depending on how I'm feelin, in the neighbors fields. I buy around 100 bales of hay just in case snow stays on ground for long times...usually have hay left in the spring...other wise they are on pasture and I do take them out grazing for a few hrs.. waterways, creek bottoms and such during real nice days in winter. I have 20/25 ewes and about 6 acres of actual pasture divided in 3 sections that I rotate. I dont wean the lambs and ship around 3 months..get around $1.75/2.00 per lb. Roughly $350 for hay/wormer/salt block. Would like to build up to 40/50 hair ewes.

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  #20  
Old 06/22/12, 03:52 PM
 
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Honestly, it is very difficult to make any profit with any sort of live animal at all. Not if you really keep track of what your true production costs are.

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  #21  
Old 06/22/12, 03:57 PM
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Our cattle have bought and paid for 4 of our 5 farms over the last 20 years. Anyone that says they don't make a profit can look at ours to see that they do make a profit and can make you a decent living.... if you know what you're doing.

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  #22  
Old 06/22/12, 04:02 PM
 
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If you have 150 acres or more you can raise cattle for a profit if you have 80 acres you can raise hogs for a profit. If you have 40 acres you can raise goats for profit. If you have 10 acres or so you can raise chickens for a profit. any thing else it will cost more than you make. I am sure somebody will say this is a lie but when you keep all of the expense and then add the profit you will be surprise to find out just what is and expense and what is profit. If you are taken about one animal there is none if you are talking about 100 animals then maybe. A milk cow comes close.

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  #23  
Old 06/22/12, 04:21 PM
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For us it is pigs. What is going to be best for other people though will vary with their climate, land, management style and other resources.

But there is more to it than just that. Our dogs, ducks and chickens are part of what makes the pigs work for us. We pasture using managed rotational grazing plus we get free whey from a local dairy. If I didn't have the whey I would start my own dairy. So really pigs, the pork they produce, is just the end product from a multi-species system.

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  #24  
Old 06/22/12, 04:30 PM
 
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Well, Im sure glad somebody didnt mention rabbits. Only a fool would try to get enough to make money offa them.

oopps. That ment me I guess

Down here a milk cow sells for a 1/4 more than a beef cow at the same age. Guess thats cause theres a thousand more beef cows, than there is a dairy cow. people down here want milk, they break in a beef cow.

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  #25  
Old 06/22/12, 04:36 PM
 
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Originally Posted by texican View Post
Imho, most farmer/ranchers who actually make real money on livestock, makes their money on volume. It's just as easy to raise a lot of animals as it is one or two.

If you have to buy feed, your not going to make any money, if your 'honest'... as in figuring in all your infrastructure, food, and vet costs. Most old timers will tell you your not raising beef (or goats) but grass (or forage). Buying hay negates any thought of profits.

I think most of 'us' aren't raising animals for profits, but so we can know what's in our animals... you cannot grow anything cheaper than storebought... but with storebought, you don't know if there's steroids, antibiotics, gmos (for folks that get spooky about 'it'), humane living conditions, etc....
Texican is right on all of the above. If you can't grow enough hay for multiple animals to survive year round, then just grow hay. More further down.

It's easier and more profitable to raise 2 unregistered Dexter cattle @800lbs on grass, than 16 commercial lambs @100lbs on the same grass. You only have to sell 3 sides of beef (and keep one side), instead of 12 lambs (and keep four). That's direct marketing to 3 families instead of 12 families. My personal experience....buy animals that have always been raised on grass alone, this usually means heritage breeds that are "un-improved" as I like to say, they are normal size, not super sized like you see at the fair.

So grow hay but not just any old hay like everyone else is growing. Here in dairyland all the local farmers grow 100% alfafa hay on large acres. I can't compete with them. However, I grow mostly grass hay (free of thistle and weeds) and make it into small squares. Market the small squares to horse owners and alpaca owners. They will pay a premium for good grass hay.
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  #26  
Old 06/22/12, 04:44 PM
 
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If I had better perimeter fencing, I would make a go of a small herd of unregistered Dexter cattle on my 24 acres, rotationally grazing 9 months and feeding purchased large rounds of alfafa in the winter. At this point I don't have the fencing "installed" to do this. I may try Red Wattle pigs again, if the corn market stablizes, right now it's too up and down. Pigs are fun, Red Wattle pigs graze in the summer and eat hay in the winter. But to fatten pigglets you need a source of grain that is reasonable.

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  #27  
Old 06/22/12, 05:05 PM
 
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When dad farmed up in NE Kans. He and everybody else growed alfalfa for all to eat. Grandad had a field of Brome grass, and lespedesia, that was just a tiny sliver when I was around. I suppose these, for grandad only farmed with horses was his horse feed. Dad just fed alfalfa.

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  #28  
Old 06/22/12, 05:16 PM
 
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Looking t return on investment in a short period of time hands down it's pigs. Say you have $500 to invest initially. You could buy 1 6 month heifer calf (maybe). You could breed her in 7-10 months for a calf around 18 months from now. In another 6 months you will have (if you are lucky) the replacement on your initial investment (not counting your 2 years of inputs).

Spend that same $500 on 2 6 month old gilts and you will have (with good management and some luck) nearly 40 hogs, (20 finished hogs and 20 weaners) and the approximate 10 gilts from the first litters will have produced around 90 additional pigs in one year. (again, not counting inputs, which will be considerably larger than the cattle inputs but with commensurately larger returns). I don't even want to try to calculate the second year.

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  #29  
Old 06/22/12, 05:21 PM
 
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I always tell people the most profitable animal on the farm is our great barn kitty.....Mandy! For us it is our Katahdin sheep.

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  #30  
Old 06/22/12, 05:59 PM
 
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Sawhorse.

Nothing, else, whith the huge increases in corn and hay, with dry pasture that looks like a parking lot.

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