Dumb newbie questions ;)

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by cfarmher, Sep 26, 2006.

  1. cfarmher

    cfarmher Well-Known Member

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    Okay, we are thinking about getting a beef calf next year. I don't have experience with anything but goats, and poultry, so I'm chock full of questions.
    So...
    First off, is "steer" the right term for what I'm looking for? :shrug:

    What should I be looking for as far as breed?

    Where do I look?

    There are several dairies in my area, are male dairy calves a good option?

    What price range should I expect?

    Will 4 acres of lush pasture be enough? (want to go "grass-fed" if possible)

    Now this one might be really dumb...
    Can it be transported to the proccesser in a pick-up with a pen?

    And if you could point me to any online resources that would be great. Something akin to fiascofarm.com but for beef cows.

    Thanks,
    Crissei
     
  2. tyusclan

    tyusclan Well-Known Member

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    1. A steer is a castrated bull, so yes a steer would be fine. A heifer that was not kept for breeding would also work. The heifers do grow off a little slower than the steers.

    2. Breed is not that important when you're raising it for your own use. Get what you can find nearby.

    3. If there is an auction near you can usually find something there, but you need to know what you're looking for. You can wind up with a sick calf that dies on you if you're not careful.

    4. A dairy calf is usually a good option. I raise several dairy calves a year myself. With the dairy calf you will need to castrate or band the calf. I prefer to castrate with a scalpel, but I know others on here who prefer the bands. If you've castrated your goats, it's exactly the same. The only drawback with the dairy calf is if you're going to grassfeed only, you're going to have to bottle feed it longer, and the milk replacer is expensive. It's hard to get a bottle calf off to a good start without some grain, at least in the beginning.

    5. That's just going to depend on your area, and what you decide to go with. You can call around the auctions and find out what the feeder calves have been bringing if go that route. I buy Holstein dairy calves here for $75 each, but I know some places they're over a hundred dollars. Others may be a little cheaper. If there's a Jersey dairy nearby, you can probably get a Jersey quite a bit cheaper. They're fine for home meat, but they grow off slower than the Holsteins. You don't want to raise Jerseys to sell at auction, because they don't bring anything there.

    6. Four acres is more than enough for one calf. You might consider getting a couple of them. They tend to do better when you raise them together. When you grow them off, you can sell one and butcher one. You'll have all your meat for free, and possibly make a small profit.

    7. You can transport them in a pickup with bodies on it, but they will need to be sturdy enough to hold a large steer. Remember, he'll be 1000-1200# by the time you butcher him. It would be better if you could borrow a trailer from a friend, or find someone with a trailer and hire them to haul it for you.

    These are just my opinions. I'm sure others will add or offer other ideas. Hope this helps.
     

  3. Up North

    Up North KS dairy farmers

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    Tyusclan's Summary is Excellent.....The raising grassfed is just fine, but if you are going to start with a dairy bottle calf, your highest chance of success and most economical method is to raise calf on Milk Replacer(or Goat's milk if you have it) AND GRAIN. After it is weaned, you want to feed it grain and grass or hay until it attains a body weight of 400-450 pounds. At that stage it will be able to do well on grass or hay alone.(Will need minerals/salt as well)
    For a dairy bull calf expect to pay anywhere from a low end of $30 up to $200 depending on body weight and breed of calf. If you have dairies around you, make every effort to buy direct from them. Make ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY sure that the calf you buy received Colostrum from it's mother within 12 hours of birth. If seller cannot tell you WITHOUT HESITATION that this occurred, do not buy calf....cheers :)
     
  4. cfarmher

    cfarmher Well-Known Member

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    Thanks so much for all your help :) . I definitely will think about raising more than one. A little extra cash never hurt!
    How would I go about selling just one steer? Is an auction my only option?
     
  5. tyusclan

    tyusclan Well-Known Member

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    Just let friends, family, and other acquaintances know that you're raising an extra steer to slaughter and sell, and you shouldn't have any problem. You can get a lot more to sell it directly to an individual than you will at the auction. It takes about 15-18 months to grow them off, so you'll have plenty of time to find someone to sell him to. If you do raise him grassfed as you say, then the input should be low, and grassfed beef brings a premium price if you can market it to someone who is looking for that. You should easily be able to cover the cost of raising both. At the very least you would have a freezer full of beef that didn't cost you anything, and more than likely make at least a small profit on the deal.
     
  6. travlnusa

    travlnusa Well-Known Member

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    It is great you are talking about this now, and doing it next year. Lots of time to get tall in order.

    Two things to look at this year. How are your fences? If they keep goats in, they should be good.

    Also learn from me. Look at your place and work out now are you going to get them into a truck/trailer when they are 1200 lbs +. Keep in mind, they will not want to go where you want, when you want.

    You will also need mineral of some kind. I am very against the blocks as they do not offer what you need in most all cases. Go to you feed store. They will have some kind of "beef" builder loose mineral. They will eat it like candy the first few days they see it, after that, a bag will last quite awhile with 2 head.
     
  7. JulieLou42

    JulieLou42 Well-Known Member

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    I have "rails" or "stakes" around the sides of my 1989 Ford 150 1/2T pickemup truck that are constructed out of 2x4"[3] verticals and 1x6" horizontals [3] to a side, and attached with hinges to the frontpiece that's behind the cab made of [3] 1x6" and [2] 2x4s. My cow loves her COB and will go anywhere for it, so I had no problem dropping the tailgate and backing up to an embankment off our drive, and walking her right into it. She went 44 miles, up hill and down, to the only vet I could get that Saturday in that truck with a dead calf [breached and upside-down] sticking out her rump. And, that was OUR first calving experience!

    Here's a pix of the truck on the right...and Ginger and me in the center...

    [​IMG]
     
  8. tyusclan

    tyusclan Well-Known Member

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    If that stake body works for you, that's great, but it would not be sufficient for most cattle. It would need to be a minimum of 5 feet high from the floor of the truck bed, and preferably with some type of top. Cattle will jump.
     
  9. JulieLou42

    JulieLou42 Well-Known Member

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    May do that...I can see my bull calf jumping; she's not likely to.
     
  10. Up North

    Up North KS dairy farmers

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    Before becoming the owner of a regular stock trailer, I had a box made with upright 2X4's in pickup stakes like JulieLou's. Due to our wet and cold climate, I used 3/4 exterior grade plywood for sidewalls instead of boards. Then I bolted 2X4's crossways for roof supports and torx screwed 1/2 plywood on top for a roof. So it was a box fully enclosed except for back. I built it 6' high from floor of pickup bed so I could move about inside without banging my head. Then I painted it to match the truck. Worked ok, could haul 2 Adult milk cows or steers side by side.
    There were two downsides 1) 6' from bed of pickup was TOO high. It caught too much wind, and was just like pushing a barn door down the road. 5' high would have been good plenty. 2) There was always challenge getting cows that didn't know you to climb up into truck when you went to auctions to buy cows.
    It did the job. Had about $275 materials invested. But a stock trailer works SOOOO much better. Low entry height even a calf or pig can jump into. And you just can't beat having a center sorting gate.
    The box? Still have it today - The Hogs love it for their winter shelter!
     
  11. JulieLou42

    JulieLou42 Well-Known Member

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    I was noticing how others had built theirs and saw mostly ones just like mine before I built it, so I just built what I was seeing most of around here, near as I could figure it. DH doesn't help, except when it comes to dropping her mineral block into the used tire from over the fence, or if there's a problem I can't fix with the hotwire. Our winters aren't as cold and windy as yours, UpNorth.
     
  12. matt090303

    matt090303 Member

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    new here, and an old man, what I say doesnt have a thing to do with this thread, but I appreciate how nice and helpful everyone is to people asking such questions. seem like a nice bunch out there, P.S. the older I get, the less I know!
     
  13. tyusclan

    tyusclan Well-Known Member

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    I'm discovering the exact same thing, Matt. And welcome to the forum. I'm sure there's a lot of wisdom roaming around in your head, and I'm looking forward to hearing some of it some time.
     
  14. Up North

    Up North KS dairy farmers

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    JulieLou I can see how yours would work for you as your Ginger trusts you and you work with her a lot. But for any other cattle, I would agree with Tyusclan and suggest a height extension to prevent cattle from leaping to their death. A full grown steer landing on the windshield of a Honda Civic is not a pretty sight.

    BTW that Ginger is one of the prettiest cows I've seen in many moons. You using shampoo on her or something?, LOL.
     
  15. Patt

    Patt Well-Known Member

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    Our Highlands would have been out of the back of a truck in a heart beat! I would really recommend getting a trailer or finding out if someone rents them nearby, hauling cattle in the back of a pick-up is a fiasco waiting to happen in my opinion. :)
    If you're raising grass fed beef you'll be able to sell it for a better price by advertising it.