Bunch of Questions...

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by SolomonMan, Aug 11, 2017.

  1. SolomonMan

    SolomonMan Active Member

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    All,
    In our area (NW Ohio) we have a large number of Dairy Farms which utilize mostly Holsteins.
    The calves from these Holstein Cows are abundant and fairly inexpensive...usually from neighbors as they get them from the larger Holstein Milking Farms (1500+ head farms are not uncommon where I am) as a few day old calves and they nurse them 20-40 at a time till they sell them locally or they go on to trailers to who knows....calves range from $100-300.

    Anyways we picked one up about a year ago which we name "Bull Winkle" ...yes we name our food....Then about 5 months ago we picked up another for my son for Fair as we missed the senior class weigh in at fair for Bull winkle....We sold Otis at the Market at fair and we broke a little ahead not including 4H Premium money which will allow my son to purchase another animal here in the fall.

    We did our own castration (banding) and dehorning on both animals...

    The first question is about Bull Winkle the older steer.
    As he is now a year old about ...how do we know when he is ready to go to the butcher?

    Is there any method to figure rough weight/time to go to the freezer? (He is a big boy)
    I thought about loading him up and weighing him at the local scale as I know what the trailer weighs?

    The next set of questions concern getting a Heifer....I have a daughter who has taken to our Steers and is considering doing a 4H Heifer for next years fair.

    As Holsteins are abundant they have been a big consideration. After a trip to the milk barn at the fair and some reading/research online we are also considering Jersey's and Swiss. The wife like the Swiss but personally a Holstein or Jersey would be fine by me....The Holstein I figure will give a decent descendant either for Milk or for Freezer.

    The Jerseys are around here not as abundantly but are available...they are usually a little cheaper than the Holsteins. The Swiss appear not in our area and in fact our local fair (large Bovine turnout) only had one and it was actually a Lease Animal.

    So I am wondering are there any other Heifer breeds we should also consider?...

    Do any of the above breeds birth better than others? Birthing is a concern of mine as we have never birthed a large animal...plenty of rabbits, chickens, cats, dogs, etc.

    Milk production is not really a large factor in our decision as we will utilize the milk in a number of fashions (5 kids and my wife and I, also close family (30 others), and we have a friend who uses her goat/cow milk to supplement pig feed...this is mostly an experience endeavor and maybe a way to stock the freezer with beef.

    Suggestions?
    Chris
     
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  2. sammyd

    sammyd Well-Known Member

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    Holsteins are easy to find as you have noticed. There are other breeds that will do better as a dual purpose animal but they can be few and far between.
    Have eaten dairy animals most of my life. You can ship him anytime you feel like. We usually put ours on a heavy corn diet for a few months before we send them away. We try to get them out the door by 18 months. If you are into feeding just grass it will take a bit longer.
    Some folks will say that the modern Holstein will do no good as a family cow, but I will disagree. Yes they will probably give more milk than their ancestors but they will not fall over dead or waste away if they don't get a modern high powered ration.
    We took several cows that had been at a high production dairy and turned them into grass fed cows without a problem. They will just produce less milk, which is fine.
     
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  3. SolomonMan

    SolomonMan Active Member

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    SammyD,
    Bull Winkle has been on a 12% Bag Feed and free amount of Hay for all his life. The last month he has been outdoors in the pasture with same amount of 12% feed each day but now much less Hay. He is the only animal in a half acre pasture and quarter acre pond that we have fenced in. We hope this fall to add another acre fenced in pasture. Manna Pro was given early in his life giving him a scoop mixed with 5-8 scoops of 12% (usually about 5 Gallon Bucket final amount) each day minimal. We did two bags of Manna Pro in this fashion. We did occasionally double feed him which left leftovers on the next feeding (Commonly wasted feed). Today Going through about 250-300lbs of feed every two weeks along with 3-5 Bales of Hay plus pasture. We get a 4H discount, membership, and total amount bought discount so the feed cost is really not an issue.

    From the time frame you mention (18 months) sounds like we still have a few more months. Do you or anyone have any idea of the weight I should shoot for with him...Reading the 4H book it mentions that each steer is different based on rear hip measurement based on month of age. Earliest you can do this measurement supposedly is 5 months. Neighbors told me best case would be about 750 dressed usually 700...basically 350 a side. So from reading I have done probably 1250-1400 lbs?

    Is there any standard guidelines or suggestions I should follow of time to send to butcher? Is there such thing as too early or too late?

    Thanks
    Chris
     
  4. SolomonMan

    SolomonMan Active Member

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  5. SolomonMan

    SolomonMan Active Member

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    SammyD,
    Why the high concentration of Corn Feeding...does it add more weight?

    If more weight is it mostly fat?

    Thanks
    Chris
     
  6. topside1

    topside1 Retired Coastie Supporter

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    Keep the steer on the farm till 18 months old, at that age they yield the maximum about of red meat and with minimal about of excess fat. At the one year mark your steer's meat would be very lean. The flavor is in the fat. Jersey steers 18 to 24 months. Holstein steers grow out quicker than the Jersey breed....Listen to Sammy, he's the voice of experience.....Topside
     
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  7. SolomonMan

    SolomonMan Active Member

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    TopSide1,
    Thanks for the information/confirmation!

    Bull Winkle has been a delight on the farm....so not in any real hurry to send him to "freezer" camp...just wanted to make sure if any arrangements needed to be made with the butcher this fall that I better do it quick....this time of year he gets really backed up.

    Can anyone (Sammy?) chime in on the corn...Sammy says a few months prior to make it a heavy corn diet....Does it matter if its cracked corn or whole corn and is it possible to give the steer to much corn...My current feed has corn in it...would I just add a few scoops of corn to his diet instead of the normal "feed"?

    What will corn do is it basically adding more weight and is this weight mostly fat or creating better marbling?

    I know some of these questions may seem "simple"...but this will be my first steer going to the butcher....done my share of rabbits, turkeys, chickens, and pigs over the years just not a steer.

    Thanks
    Chris
     
  8. topside1

    topside1 Retired Coastie Supporter

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    Corn is an economical way to put fat onto the carcass. At 18 months old protein foods are doing very little to improve your meats grade. Corn is energy and carbs converted to marbling. It's the cheapest most effective way to finish the steer prior to butchering...Topside
     
  9. Oregon1986

    Oregon1986 Well-Known Member

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    As far as heifer breed I highly recommend herferds
     
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  10. sammyd

    sammyd Well-Known Member

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    We never really shoot for a specific weight. We keep an eye on how they look and how long they've been around.
    Corn will get you nice tender meat with a good flavor.
    The first steers we did here, we went totally whole shell corn with a small amount of a pellet called Tend R Leen for the last 3 or 4 months. I bought a couple of tons of whole shell corn (at that time corn was 100 a ton)and a few bags of the pellet. They were allowed a couple of pounds of roughage a day, it was late in the year and the pasture wasn't regrowing well so that was the roughage.
    Later we tried the grass fed route, minimal grain and shipped when the pasture was lush but we did not care for the flavor and the meat was a bit tougher. Other folks might like it that way.
    Have 2 that are ready for corn and will be sending in a wagon of cob corn to get ground and will either go with a pellet like the tend r leen or have the mill mix in a bit of protein.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2017
  11. haypoint

    haypoint Well-Known Member Supporter

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    20 pounds of 14% something a day seems like a lot. Does it have added vitamins and added minerals? A quarter of a bale of hay per day seems light. A single steer would go through a tiny half acre pasture.
    A Holstein can give birth to about any breed calf. A Jersey is only able to give birth to a small calf.
    Old beef is tough beef. Fat adds flavor and moisture. So, the goal is fast growth with an extra corn "push" at the end to give young tender, juicy beef. It is often a costly experiment to try slow growth grass raised beef.
     
  12. SolomonMan

    SolomonMan Active Member

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    Haypoint,
    I will take a look tonight at the bag feed...Its a major store bag feed...I know it has Molases, Corn, Soybeans/Soymeal but after that my memory wanes....Its a feed that supposedly "feeds them all"... I will add that we are considering increasing his Hay...especially as my young daughter has now set her "new" goat out in the pasture as well....and its hard to separate Goat from Steer feed-wise...but the steer seems happy to have a "friend".

    Thanks
    Chris
     
  13. SolomonMan

    SolomonMan Active Member

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    SammyD/All,
    The wife and I are going to put off the butcher for the steer till December time frame...We have decided to "fit in" a couple pigs in his place...We may end up putting the pigs in the freezer ourselves....A friend of ours has done it many times before and has "volunteered" to be our "teacher".

    Thanks for the help,
    Chris
     
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  14. haypoint

    haypoint Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I wasn't as clear as I need to be. Breading a Jersey to a breed that produces large calves, like Holstein or brown swiss will give calving problems. Most cattle are the result of artificial insemination and data shows those bulls average birth weights. When breeding a Jersey you must always choose a bull with a low birth weight history.
     
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  15. SolomonMan

    SolomonMan Active Member

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    haypoint,
    Thanks for the clarification!
    My sons 4H book, just finished that section over last weekend, goes into birthing scenarios and what to avoid so its good to know its acceptance.

    We recently found a few ads for Swiss in our area (within 150 miles) but I am still leaning towards Holsteins....

    Thanks for the help,
    Chris
     
  16. Whoo

    Whoo Well-Known Member

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    SolomonMan you may know this but thought I would say it anyway. Most sale barn dairy heifers are freemartins.