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I'll re-write for you for half the money and half the credit :)

If these people are mainly looking at how to make money, stockers is the way to go. They are easier to find, easier to determine their health, easier to keep healthy, easier to feed, etc.

The preggo cow thing can work, but one needs quite a bit of knowledge about buying them, caring for them, calf care, etc.

Your own caption there says you have a cow that still produces a calf, but can't raise it. Problems like that abound in old bred cow sales. Previous abortions, prolapses, illness, poor milking, etc all can really hit someone hard financially, especially if they didn't see it coming nor understood the risk they were taking.

I'm not saying it can't be done, but emphasize "help" and "education"!!!!

Buying stockers is eaiser because one can often find them on the farm, rather than a sale barn. Even at the sale barn, one can usually find out who's they are and how they manage their operation. There are guys here that take them straight off the cow to the sale barn. Nothing wrong with that, but it really helps if one knows that type of information. If they are bought at a sale barn, many of them now have special sales for different health programs which can eliminate many problems in weaned calves.

Pregnant cows still need watching, checking and intervention at times while calving. The best momma in the world cannot make her baby stand if it happens to be born in 6 inch mud, or slick ice. An old cow can be less risky than a heifer, but a really old cow, in poor health, can be a much bigger risk.

Stockers need watching, but not usually in the middle of the night! They need to be checked for illness, but time and knowledge are not as critical as when a calving goes badly.

Newborn calves also need care. Scours and pnuemonia will strike any calf, not just those from young cows! Then the calves have to be weaned....a whole different set of problems to deal with.

Feed is also an issue. Lactating cows can go downhill fast if the pasture is not adequate. Combine a poor milking cow, with poor pasture and you end up with a skinny cow with a dead or stunted baby.

Stockers need good pasture too, but I don't think the consequences are as risky as with pairs. It's eaiser to spot the problem, and easier to fix it.

If they only have a few head, it is quite possible they could do their own hay through a share arrangement with a farmer. We do lots of hay on a 50/50 split. We even fill their feeders for them sometimes! Buying the equipment is probably not cost effective, but buying hay in might not be the best bet either.

Hay alone will not carry growing cattle through a winter. They need more energy and protein. I guess it depends on the hay too, but usually more is required. I supplement my cows through the winter also. If they only had my poor quality hay, they lose too much condition through the winter.

Cull prices do vary. Higher in the spring, lower in the fall is the general rule of thumb. They also vary with the rest of the market.

I would leave out any information on vaccinations, other than "you should do it" and "ask a vet". Different areas need different things. There are many things that can kill a calf in a couple days. Let their area vet choose the shots!

Uncastrated bull calves get dinged at my market for $5-$10/cwt. Castration pays for itself, in my opinion. I might get a few more pounds on a bull calf (very debatable), but then I'll get dinged anyways.

Raising organic beef is more than just what you feed them. The pastures have to be organic, the mommas have to be organic (I believe, at least for a period of time). I would mention reading feed labels and learning what they mean. It's too easy to feed antibiotics or ionophores without meaning too, also animal proteins etc. They should consult with a nutrionist about feed rations. The feed store or mill should be able to help them with a ration. Soybean meal is going to be hard to avoid. Gotta have that protein. I have not ever had anyone tell me they were worried about soybean meal as feed.

I would emphasize that alternative methods of worming are just that...alternative and not proven. Consult a vet.

Kelp is expensive. Very expensive! I, personally, do not see a benefit that woudl justify that cost.

If they want to keep it simple, don't do rotational grazing. Continuous grazing could work very well on a small area, with an appropriate stocking rate. If they want to make money, keep expenses low. One good thing about rotational grazing is that you can always grow into it later. You can also improve pasture while continuously grazing it. Frost seeding, appropriate mowing, etc all work.

Hay doesn't *have* to be stored! Mine is kept in the field until we feed it. More waste, but less capital outlay and labor in hauling it around more than necessary.

Cattle need shelter in summer too. Shade helps a lot. A hill is often sufficient shelter in winter...somewhere out of the wind. You can also store your hay to create a windbreak, just hotwire the "wall" off from the cows.

What about water? What about frozen water? What about LOTS of water on those hot summer days?

No mention of having someone come ascertain the pasture quality. That is so important when determining stocking rates.

Breeding cows are treated differently for taxes. Under this system, they would have short term capital gains/losses. Could be good, could be bad. Depends. (can you tell I just got my taxes done?)

I always try to tell people...start small. Keep expenses low. If it works, then grow. If not, then you have not gone broke trying. A few stockers would keep their ag status and probably make them a bit of money too. Margins are so slim, every cut corner counts, but knowing which ones to cut makes all the difference! Use the learning curve on a few animals. Mistakes are easier to absorb and you learn just as much.

I know that Countryside has a "non-commercial" approach, but don't discount information about commercial methods of farming. Take what you need and leave the rest. Also...the BEST way to learn how to keep cattle is to find a mentor. Either local or on the internet. Someone who knows what they are doing and is willing to answer all stupid questions and tell someone when they are screwing up. Invaluable.

I don't know if that is helpful. I tried to be. My offer still stands on a re-write! I've had lots of people tell me I ought to write articles, but I never have the time.

Jena
 

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Ooops...I forgot to mention the bull thing. Buying a sale barn bull can be a risk. They are there for a reason. STD's, throwing monster calves, lameness issues, low libido and infertility. Finding an older, not quite as aggressive, bull is ok, but how do you know? Better to ask around and see if someone needs to rotate a bull out of their herd and buy him cheap.

Jena
 

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Yup! Nothing is always good too :)

I was just teasing about that, but I wasn't sure what you really wanted me to look at. I did the best I could. Hope it helped.

Jena
 
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