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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi y'all from Ft. Worth, Texas. Actually Arlington but I don't claim that. I was born in All Saints in Ft. Worth so I'm technically from cowtown lol. Seriously though, I have roughly 3 acres of really good grass with some woods but not much. I would like to buy one calf for slaughter. Not necessarily for saving money but for better meat quality and less meds if possible. The acreage is my parents and they are up in years so it's just sitting dormant. I can attend it daily if needed. The grass is lush right now. First frost will typically be October 30 or later. I can purchase hay locally. I don't want a bottle calf. I don't have a barn or shelter. Water is not an issue. Y'all's thoughts please. A to z, 1,2,3 or you can bullet them. Thanks in advance.
 

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Before you buy the calf, double check the fence. A calf by himself will be trying to escape. First I would check Craigs List for weaned calves for sale. If you can't find any post a add on Craigs List looking for a weaned calf.
 

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You will need a way to haul them. In my area you can hire someone to haul them for you at about $2 per mile.
You might also need a way to doctor them. I make a pen with several gates, and am able to rent my vet's shute.

You don't need a fancy shelter. A tin roof with a two tin side walls would make them happy. Also if your willing to buy hay two won't be a problem. How much hay you will have to buy and at what price is the question.

What I do is buy fall born weaned/vaccinated calves in the spring then they have green grass through the summer/fall for them to graze on. I try to get about 400 pounders. I give them a small amount of ground corn with protein mixed in every day so I can keep an eye on them (make sure they are looking good) and they get used to me. About this time of year (fall) I start slowly upping the amount of corn they get until they are so full of corn they don't care to eat all the corn in the trough. I keep them on the full feed ration until they are ready to be slaughtered.

That's how I do it. You can finish them on grass only, but that's up to you.
 

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Also there is a difference in calves. I believe "beef" breeds do better gaining weight on grass than "dairy" breeds. Not saying you can't put weight on dairy breeds on grass, it just takes a while longer. I do prefer the taste of dairy breeds over beef, but they take more corn to finish.

Price is also different in the breeds. Dairy breeds are usually cheaper to buy than beef breeds. Such as Holstein steers are usually cheaper than Angus steers of the same weight.
 

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If there are any dairies in the area, there will be people who buy day olds and raise them for a month or so and get them onto solid feed and off the bottle. The angus holstein cross cattle produce really good meat. Pick one that is all black except for white udders. Those ones take after the Angus father and are beefier in build.

You are going to need to buy two if you expect your calf to stay in the pasture. if you get small calves, you will need protection from predators.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks oregon woodsmoke, I'm really liking what you and Whoo said about the dairy breeds/cross. I knew the beef breeds would be pricey and this will allow a good productive alternative without breaking the bank the first time around. Small pasture protection, dog, goat, donkey? Is it feasible to pen them up in the evening in a shelter and let out in the morning till they are large enough to defend themselves?
 

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Thanks oregon woodsmoke, I'm really liking what you and Whoo said about the dairy breeds/cross. I knew the beef breeds would be pricey and this will allow a good productive alternative without breaking the bank the first time around. Small pasture protection, dog, goat, donkey? Is it feasible to pen them up in the evening in a shelter and let out in the morning till they are large enough to defend themselves?
I have raised holstein calves to weight on pasture plenty of times. It just takes a bit longer and a little more input which if you're supplying hay can be an issue. Beef x is preferable. It's hard to guess how much you can rely on your pasture so you'll probably yeah want someone that can deliver round bales. Steer calves are usually fine with dogs after a certain age and you'll be able to judge when they can hold their own. They'll quickly go from running to "you wanna go?" when a dog tries anything. Unless you buy smaller "weaned" calves they'll probably be fine. I'd definitely go with 2. You can sell half a beef or more to a friend and pay for your input costs. But not your time :) If you feed them in the evenings they'll get used to going back to a shelter you can lock them in if you want till they're older. Getting them used to coming to a bucket anyway is very important and it isn't hard. It happens naturally.

A couple things:
Steers get big. Dairy steers can get very big. Our holstein steers when they are slaughter weight can be taller than my height at their shoulder and I'm like 5'11. Starting out I'd suggest a smaller breed if you can find some dexter calves or lowline or something like that cheap. The small acreage is also a good reason for that. You may not care, just a thought.

Depending on the age you buy them just remember it isn't just a 6 month project.

I'd assume summer heat is pretty stressful in your area. I'd have some place shaded like a run-in shed or at least a grove of trees. If you get them real young the shed.

Cattle are remarkably curious animals. They will destroy anything you value in the pasture.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Ok wil14, after reading your input I do confess the mentally anticipated honeymoon is over 😂. But that's ok. You didn't spare my feelings and it caused me to take stock of what I was really getting into. I am no stranger to livestock but I've never had my own to deal with. Thank you for clarity. That said I am going to press ahead with great determination but definitely be more prepared than I thought I was. I have trees and ample shade. I can actually enlarge the plot that I have by almost another acre so I will be doing some more fencing before liftoff. Smaller breeds, check. I am 5'11" as well and the prospect of dealing with an animal that large for the first time is a wake-up call.

All you folks are great and I appreciate your input!
 
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