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Cattle For Those Who Like To Have A Cow.

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Old 07/29/05, 07:41 PM
Rosarybeads's Avatar  
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Kansas
Posts: 544
How old should cattle be before you butcher...

We have a Holstein bull calf, he is about a year old, not quite now, and I am more interested in having him tender and NOT getting old enough to have much of a "bull" taste than having him optimum weight. We never cut him, he was raised on our dairy goat's milk as a youngin.... and has been on alfalfa/grass/weed pasture since. I don't want to pump money for corn into him, just want to butcher him young and tender, what is the oldest I can wait, in your experience?
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Old 07/29/05, 09:17 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Zone 7
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Personally I would put a little corn through him and send him on to the processing plant prior to 18 months old.
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Old 07/29/05, 10:56 PM
travlnusa's Avatar  
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: WI
Posts: 1,245
I raise Holsteins for beef for myself and customers.

I would HIGHLY recommend you cut him. After that, wait min of 60 days to butcher him. Start adding grain to his diet at 2 lbs per day. After a 2 weeks, move to 3lbs. Keep moving up to about 20lbs per day, or as much as you are willing to pay for,

Butchering is based on "how big" rather than "how old". Do you have a weight tape? If not, spring the $2.00 and that will give you a good idea. 1000 lbs will be tender and VERY LEAN.
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Old 07/29/05, 11:39 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: AR
Posts: 102
What is a weight tape?
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Old 07/30/05, 01:45 AM
JulieLou42's Avatar  
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: North Central Idaho, Zone 5
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Check at your local feed store for the measuring tape that tells by the inches around the heart girth, with the head pointing striaight forward [the hard part, unless you have a helper], and that measurement will tell you right on it the approximate weight of your bovine.
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Old 07/30/05, 10:06 AM
milkstoolcowboy's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: MN
Posts: 337
I agree with all that's been written. Definitely get a weight tape, either at a livestock supply or farm store or online from someplace like

You can also estimate his weight with a sewing (cloth) tape measure as follows:

(Girth * Girth * Length)/300 = body weight in lbs. All measurement in inches. Girth is his heart girth, measured around his body about 4" behind his front legs and length is a diagonal measurement from the point of the shoulder to his pinbone.

I'd guess he weighs around 600 lbs now, maybe a bit less. A lot of beef raised in Europe, the bulls aren't cut, but he's certainly not too big to cut and I'd recommend it.

I have a neighbor who raises Holstein steers exclusively on hay/pasture -- they're three years old before they finish. If you want him too finish sooner and yield a better carcass, I'd start him on grain. Right now, a mix of 6 parts shell corn to 1 part 38-40 percent pelleted supplement will get you a 14% crude protein ration. A couple lbs. day is enough to start, and then increase him slowly. By the time he reaches around 900 lbs. you can cut back on the supplement to a ration that's 9 parts shell corn to 1 part pelleted supplement. He should be eating 20-25 lbs. of grain/day by this weight.

Always, make sure he has access to clean drinking water and free choice beef mineral and salt would help.
"Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity." Gen. George S. Patton Jr.
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Old 07/30/05, 04:04 PM
JulieLou42's Avatar  
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: North Central Idaho, Zone 5
Posts: 501
My rancher neighbors tell me to increase my steer's rolled barley to 8 qts.dry per day two weeks before slaughtering, which I plan to do when he's 16 months old.
He's over 1000# now, and they estimated he'd be 1200# then, on orchard grass and some alfalfa and barley ration, and that he'd net out at around 800# dressed weight.

UI did some testing locally on types and amounts of grains to feed steers around here two years ago, and that showed that the barley was the best and cheapest way to go to get them ready for slaughter.
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Old 08/01/05, 10:45 AM
Rosarybeads's Avatar  
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Kansas
Posts: 544
Wow, thanks you guys, the info is awesome! I will get a weight tape, and will shoot this thread off to hubby. I really don't want to cut him, I will put up with whatever flavour I get or lack of weight, etc... Anyhow, thanks so much again for all your posts, you gave me the info I needed and I REALLY appreciate it!
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Old 08/01/05, 10:36 PM
DJ DJ is offline
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 56
you need to cut him for safety sake. your childrens as well as yourself. holsteins make pretty rank bulls meaning ill tempered, not bad tasting at this size you might consider banding with a big bander as opposed to cutting
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Old 08/02/05, 06:54 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 2,686
Hi Natalie,
It's not how old he is or even how big he is that matters - it's what sort of condition he is in. A big, 3 year old animal is no good if he's as skinny as a rake.

Whether you eat bull meat or not is personal taste - I personally find it too strong once the animal has got up in age and to that end everything is steered. Also, keeping bulls can be a right pain. If I were in the same situation as you, I would either have him cut and allow him to grow through to a two year old, or kill him out within the next couple of months to avoid the stronger tasting meat.

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