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Old 07-30-2012, 12:08 PM
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I searched and didn't find any threads dedicated to cattle, so here it is. This is for anyone wants to ask questions, share knowledge, share links, post photos of your cattle, or share interesting or funny stories.

There may be only few members on SB that are into cattle, dairy or beef, but I think it will be helpful to have one major thread for discussion.
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Old 07-30-2012, 12:21 PM
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I've been planning to keep a dairy cow for a long time. Actually for about 2 years before we found our farm. Our 1st anniversary on our small farm was July 7th this year.

We've accomplished quite alot in one year. Poultry, a new puppy to train, a greenhouse, and raised garden beds... all going well. But we were still missing our cows.

Finally, we have found a pair of calves to start our herd. I had my heart set on Dexter Cattle because they are a small breed and thus give less milk. It was hard to find the pair I wanted, and especially because there are no Dexter farms near my area.

We are purchasing a bull calf and a heifer calf, which we can take possession of the last week of September, when they will be weaned. We have paid the deposit on both. Their names are Joey and Joy.

This is the place that is selling them

http://www.fivepondsfarm.com/DexterCattleForSale.html

Now we just have to figure out how to transport them... we have 60 days to figure it out.
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Old 07-30-2012, 02:36 PM
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I got into the cattle business about 18 months ago when I bought 2 bull calves from a dairy farm. They cost me $75 each and I bottle fed them for about six weeks, castrated and inocculated them all myself. Now I have two steers, about 600+ lbs, and hope to get one of them over 700 by September and put him in the freezer. Ideally they would be closer to 1000 lbs, but they are dairy breeds, jersey/Holstein cross, and don't bulk up as fast as the beef breeds. I will keep the other one until next year, hopefully he will have bulked up by then.
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Old 07-30-2012, 03:34 PM
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To get ready for the new additions to our farm we have some things to do, and quite a few questions.

So far this is the plan -

1. We talked to a farmer about hay and told him that we need 2 tons. To him it seemed alot, but I explained that I'd rather have a half a year excess than to run short. He is cutting this week and happy to deliver it @ $3.75/ bale.
Dexters are supposed to eat 12.5 lbs of hay/day. (during winter when there's not much grazing) So for my two, it would be one bale every other day, assuming 50lb bales.

12.5lbs hay/day per head x 2 cattle x 120days of winter = 3000 lbs hay , 2 tons should leave me with extra 1000 lbs. Who knows though, what if my cattle eat more than that, or if my winters are colder than normal.

I want my cattle to be primarily grass fed, but there are about 4 months winter here. During winter, if the temps are below freezing, shouldn't they get some grain to keep them warm? Would they still be considered grass fed if I give them a pound or two of grain in the coldest months?

2. Priced corn at the feed store. Last week it was $9/50lb sack. I may mix corn with oats and molasses to make some kind of cow cookies. This will be used for treats. I plan to train the calves to come when I call, learn how to be tied at a post, and to learn to walk into a squeeze chute for veterinary care. At the very least. The heifer will need more training than the bull since I plan to milk her.

I have also heard of alfalfa cubes to use at treats. What other treats are there for training purposes? It has to be something reasonable in price, but something cows really like.

3. We have two stalls in the barn. I think it is a good idea to keep them in the barn at night the first couple of weeks so they know where their home is, and so they get to know their new owners. I will need to lead them down to the pasture in the morning and back to the barn at night every day. Then after two weeks I'll let them stay out if they rather.

I don't know if this is the right idea, it seems that many here just leave their cattle out day and night, all year round??

4. Shade - Our pasture doesn't have any until very late in the evening. We planted 2 weeping willows last year, but they haven't grown much yet. In the meantime we are thinking to make something like a carport, or a hoop house built of PVC with shadecloth or tarp. Not sure yet, haven't drawn up any plans for that. Might want to make it mobile in case we divide the pasture into quarters and rotate their grazing.

5. Need to build or buy a sqeeze chute. Does it matter if it's wood or metal? Maybe a combination of the 2. I can first train them to be tied to a post (wood) and later add metal gates to create sides. Or possibly add a gate near the corner inside the stalls in the barn. Has anyone done this?

6. Filling in ground squirrel holes, and checking the pasture for any other hazards. Some of the stalks of weeds are pretty tough, and thick where we cut them. I may want to dig them out if I find them.

7. Water has to be kept in the upper paddock near the barn, where a hose can reach from the well, so they will have to walk up to get a drink. I just need to buy a tank for them and a heater. Any input on the best type of heater?

8. Meds? What is essential for first aid, or minor health problems?

(There is a large animal vet nearby so major problems would be a vet bill obviously)


9. Transport. I think were going to have to pay someone to haul them. For us to rent a truck is $275 plus gas for 1220 miles round trip. We have gotten a bid from a guy to haul them for $599. Pretty reasonable price. We have been looking for used stock trailers and used pick-up trucks, but I think we'll have to wait on those.

10. Any other issues that I haven't thought of, that should be taken care of before the new calves get here?

This is only a small family farm, so while I see many nice products out there to buy, I would rather improvise as much as possible. I hope not to spend thousands to keep one milking cow and her bull.
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Old 07-30-2012, 03:39 PM
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I got into the cattle business about 18 months ago when I bought 2 bull calves from a dairy farm. They cost me $75 each and I bottle fed them for about six weeks, castrated and inocculated them all myself. Now I have two steers, about 600+ lbs, and hope to get one of them over 700 by September and put him in the freezer. Ideally they would be closer to 1000 lbs, but they are dairy breeds, jersey/Holstein cross, and don't bulk up as fast as the beef breeds. I will keep the other one until next year, hopefully he will have bulked up by then.
I was advised by a friend that I should buy 4 Jersey bull calves this past spring, to keep my pasture down. She gave me address and number for the dairy. They wanted $200 each for them. Glad I didn't get them, or else I wouldn't be getting what I really wanted now.

I think you have a good plan though. Makes sense to slaughter one this year and one next year. Will you be picking up a couple more in the spring to replace them?
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Old 07-30-2012, 04:13 PM
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I was advised by a friend that I should buy 4 Jersey bull calves this past spring, to keep my pasture down. She gave me address and number for the dairy. They wanted $200 each for them. Glad I didn't get them, or else I wouldn't be getting what I really wanted now.

I think you have a good plan though. Makes sense to slaughter one this year and one next year. Will you be picking up a couple more in the spring to replace them?
No, not going to buy dairy calves again, they don't gain weight like beef cows and since I plan on butchering these cows for meat, I need them to bulk up. For comparison, my neighbor raises black angus, her yearling calves weighed 8-900 lbs, over double what mine weighed. Mine are almost 18 months and barely top 600 lbs.

My plan is to buy a beef breed cow/calf pair, probably angus, since that is what is around here. That way, the cow can do the raising of the calf, save me money and time on formula and bottle feeding, and I can breed her with my neighbors bull and have a calf in the pipeline each year for no cost.

The diary calves were a good learning experience, it helped me to learn what I need to different the next time around. Ideally I would keep both of these steers and let them get bigger, I just don't want to feed both of them through another winter. Also, one of the steers has gotten kind of aggressive, it makes it hard for my wife to go in the pasture without back up. He also bullies the other steer, steals his food, pushes him around, hogs the loafing shed, and so on. He isn't mean, but he wants to show everybody who is in charge, and a 600 pound animal can hurt you, even if he is not trying to. So, his bad attitude, and the fact that he is the larger of the two, has earned him a trip to the freezer!
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Old 07-30-2012, 04:20 PM
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We've raised beef cattle several years, now, (brangus cows, angus bull) and let them feed on pasture Spring, Summer and Fall with occasional treats of cattle cubes ($8.00 - $10.00 a bag but cheaper when bought in bulk). We also plant Winter wheat for hay. In the Winter, they get the hay, cubes and protein tubs - don't forget the mineral blocks, too. Constant water supply is essential. Ranchers in these parts don't feed corn - it's not natural for them and feed lots only supply corn to put extra fat on them.

We stay away from hormones and antibiotics and have no problems. When we first got them, we vaccinated with 6-Way but don't even do that any more - they're all healthy and healthier for us, too.
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Old 07-30-2012, 04:31 PM
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I've been thinking about getting two Scottish Highland beef critters, I Was at the junkyard today and bought 15000 feet of Stainless steel electric fence wire somebody sold. I Gotta go by Tractor supply and look for some insulators to nail on the trees that surround the woodlot i just cleared.

Then i'll hopefully be building a pole barn this winter to keep them and the hay in.
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Old 07-30-2012, 04:33 PM
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We've raised beef cattle several years, now, (brangus cows, angus bull) and let them feed on pasture Spring, Summer and Fall with occasional treats of cattle cubes ($8.00 - $10.00 a bag but cheaper when bought in bulk). We also plant Winter wheat for hay. In the Winter, they get the hay, cubes and protein tubs - don't forget the mineral blocks, too. Constant water supply is essential. Ranchers in these parts don't feed corn - it's not natural for them and feed lots only supply corn to put extra fat on them.

We stay away from hormones and antibiotics and have no problems. When we first got them, we vaccinated with 6-Way but don't even do that any more - they're all healthy and healthier for us, too.
Cool Brangus/Angus herd.

Our new calves need a health certificate before they can leave the state, so our breeder is taking care of that. I don't think I will need to vaccinate. I may have the vet out to give them a good look over though, just to establish a baseline condition.

Maybe I'll skip the corn then. I'll just have to find what treats they like the best. Putting mineral blocks and protein tubs on my feed list. Thanks
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Old 07-30-2012, 04:43 PM
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I am going to finish my steer on a corn mixture for the last couple of months to fatten him and get that good marbling. I don't feed corn to them normally, but I supplement their pasture and hay with what they call "creep feed", it's a grain pellet. I buy it in bulk at the feed store and keep it stored in 55 gallon drums by their pasture, and they get a couple scoops everyday.
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Old 07-30-2012, 04:58 PM
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I've been thinking about getting two Scottish Highland beef critters, I Was at the junkyard today and bought 15000 feet of Stainless steel electric fence wire somebody sold. I Gotta go by Tractor supply and look for some insulators to nail on the trees that surround the woodlot i just cleared.

Then i'll hopefully be building a pole barn this winter to keep them and the hay in.
Scottish Highlands are another really cool breed. Have you gotten so far as to looking at breeders yet? Any in your local area? Building a three sided barn? or a full barn?

Piece of trivia: If you get those you really need to leave their horns on because that helps them stay cool in the hot summers. Easy for them to overheat with the long coat.
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Old 07-30-2012, 05:42 PM
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Oh, I thought of one more thing to add. I also would like a couple of Dexters for meat and milk. One great thing about these very gentle animals is that they also browse for brambles, weeds, leaves and other things (more like goats forage) that most cattle won't eat.
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Old 07-30-2012, 05:46 PM
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Scottish Highlands are another really cool breed. Have you gotten so far as to looking at breeders yet? Any in your local area? Building a three sided barn? or a full barn?

Piece of trivia: If you get those you really need to leave their horns on because that helps them stay cool in the hot summers. Easy for them to overheat with the long coat.
Theres several breeders with very low prices right now ,thats the main reason i'm looking at them, and i need a full barn, and need it bad. All of my equipment and tractors have been outside for 5 years now. I Like the long hair and horns, that reddish colored hair looks cool too.
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Old 07-30-2012, 06:23 PM
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Oh, I thought of one more thing to add. I also would like a couple of Dexters for meat and milk. One great thing about these very gentle animals is that they also browse for brambles, weeds, leaves and other things (more like goats forage) that most cattle won't eat.
Have you ever thought of having your first time heifers bred by a Dexter bull? That's supposed to make their first birth an easy one. The hybrid offspring would be great for a small beef cattle. Dexters eat much less than Angus or the amount of meat they put on.
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Old 07-30-2012, 07:44 PM
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Now we just have to figure out how to transport them... we have 60 days to figure it out.

Might want to research "Shipping Fever"


If you want a good meat/milker cow look into Brown Swiss.
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Old 07-30-2012, 08:24 PM
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Might want to research "Shipping Fever"


If you want a good meat/milker cow look into Brown Swiss.
Thanks for the link to Merck Vet Manual, I've bookmarked it, very useful info.
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Old 07-31-2012, 06:49 PM
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To get ready for the new additions to our farm we have some things to do, and quite a few questions.

So far this is the plan -

1. We talked to a farmer about hay and told him that we need 2 tons. To him it seemed alot, but I explained that I'd rather have a half a year excess than to run short. He is cutting this week and happy to deliver it @ $3.75/ bale.
Dexters are supposed to eat 12.5 lbs of hay/day. (during winter when there's not much grazing) So for my two, it would be one bale every other day, assuming 50lb bales.

12.5lbs hay/day per head x 2 cattle x 120days of winter = 3000 lbs hay , 2 tons should leave me with extra 1000 lbs. Who knows though, what if my cattle eat more than that, or if my winters are colder than normal.

I want my cattle to be primarily grass fed, but there are about 4 months winter here. During winter, if the temps are below freezing, shouldn't they get some grain to keep them warm? Would they still be considered grass fed if I give them a pound or two of grain in the coldest months?

We feed ours bunk feed (grain mix) during the very coldest part of the year but, you don't have to. However, a cow can burn more calories eating old rotten hay than they take in. Keeping your hay dry and clean is a must. You can also substitute top quality alfalfa hay for grain during the winter. You will however, pay top dollar for alfalfa hay.

2. Priced corn at the feed store. Last week it was $9/50lb sack. I may mix corn with oats and molasses to make some kind of cow cookies. This will be used for treats. I plan to train the calves to come when I call, learn how to be tied at a post, and to learn to walk into a squeeze chute for veterinary care. At the very least. The heifer will need more training than the bull since I plan to milk her.

I have also heard of alfalfa cubes to use at treats. What other treats are there for training purposes? It has to be something reasonable in price, but something cows really like.

If you feed them grain only (or the majority of the time) at the tie post or in the chute they become accustom to it and it's no big deal.

3. We have two stalls in the barn. I think it is a good idea to keep them in the barn at night the first couple of weeks so they know where their home is, and so they get to know their new owners. I will need to lead them down to the pasture in the morning and back to the barn at night every day. Then after two weeks I'll let them stay out if they rather.

I don't know if this is the right idea, it seems that many here just leave their cattle out day and night, all year round??

We leave ours out year around but, if I were going to milk them I would keep them in a stall at night for the simple ease of them being at a set location in the morning.

4. Shade - Our pasture doesn't have any until very late in the evening. We planted 2 weeping willows last year, but they haven't grown much yet. In the meantime we are thinking to make something like a carport, or a hoop house built of PVC with shadecloth or tarp. Not sure yet, haven't drawn up any plans for that. Might want to make it mobile in case we divide the pasture into quarters and rotate their grazing.

If your are some what mechanicly inclined I would build a simple shelter frame on an axle with wheels that can either be pulled or moved by a tractor. This way you don't have bare spots in your field and manure build up under the only shade that they have.

5. Need to build or buy a sqeeze chute. Does it matter if it's wood or metal? Maybe a combination of the 2. I can first train them to be tied to a post (wood) and later add metal gates to create sides. Or possibly add a gate near the corner inside the stalls in the barn. Has anyone done this?

You can use 2 gates and tie them together as a squeeze chute but, I would invest in a head chute with an alley so you can have much more control.

6. Filling in ground squirrel holes, and checking the pasture for any other hazards. Some of the stalks of weeds are pretty tough, and thick where we cut them. I may want to dig them out if I find them.

We've never had a problem with our cattle breaking legs in holes in our field. We have sink holes in some of our fields and not one has ever fell in. The weeds shouldn't be a problem either.

7. Water has to be kept in the upper paddock near the barn, where a hose can reach from the well, so they will have to walk up to get a drink. I just need to buy a tank for them and a heater. Any input on the best type of heater?

A water heater or keeping the water running if possible in the winter would be a must. They can knock a hole in about an inch or so of ice.

8. Meds? What is essential for first aid, or minor health problems?

(There is a large animal vet nearby so major problems would be a vet bill obviously)

We always keep on hand pink eye med and Penicillin

9. Transport. I think were going to have to pay someone to haul them. For us to rent a truck is $275 plus gas for 1220 miles round trip. We have gotten a bid from a guy to haul them for $599. Pretty reasonable price. We have been looking for used stock trailers and used pick-up trucks, but I think we'll have to wait on those.

I would get some references and have someone haul them. If they are reputable you should be just fine. Call around and don't hire someone on the price alone or you can end you with 2 sick or dead calves when they get home.

10. Any other issues that I haven't thought of, that should be taken care of before the new calves get here?

This is only a small family farm, so while I see many nice products out there to buy, I would rather improvise as much as possible. I hope not to spend thousands to keep one milking cow and her bull.
I would recommend investing in a milking machine. It doesn't take that long to hand milk a single cow but, dang your arms and hands will thank you. You can also take care of other things in the barn while she's being milked
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Old 07-31-2012, 09:52 PM
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My family has been in the cattle business, large and small operations at various times.

One important thought for everyone. The cattle business is VERY different in every section of our country. Not counting a couple years while in the military in Washington State, Yakima and Ellensburg area, my experience is only in the State of Florida.

Most people don't think of Fla as cattle country. But the last time I checked 4 of the largest 25 cattle operations in North America were in Fla. and two of those are HQed in my county (Osceola).

The fact to remember is problems in the midwest are trivial in Fla and a major problem to us in Fla doesn't exist in the midwest or far west. More important good breeds or cross-breeds in Fla are frowned at in Montana.

I've read some great advice from numerous posters and looking forward to more.

Mr Mod could someone please make this a sticky ???
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Old 08-02-2012, 05:47 PM
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Old 08-13-2012, 03:18 PM
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Most people don't think of Fla as cattle country. But the last time I checked 4 of the largest 25 cattle operations in North America were in Fla. and two of those are HQed in my county (Osceola).
What cattle operations are you referring to?
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