Raising Beef Cattle
Raising beef cattle is a tough business. Raising beef cattle can also be a lucrative business if conducted efficiently. A few years ago prices were at an all-time high, though they have dropped about two dollars a pound since. But that’s the way of the market - it’s a constant fluctuation as cattle farmers sell, sell, sell.
Grow Your Herd
The cattle farmer just starting out has to create a sustainable herd. And to do it as cheaply as possible, this farmer will first determine what size spread his land can handle. Let’s say you have 100 acres of pasture, fenced off into two sections. We know that a cow needs to eat about four percent of its body weight per day to gain weight. Through research we have also determined that one half-ton cow per acre is standard. The reason you have sectioned off the 100-acre pasture into two parcels is so you can transfer your cows as they eat down the grasses, giving the other time to recover.
It wouldn’t be cost effective to buy the 25 or so cattle that the pasture can sustain right away. The best way to go about this is to purchase just a few pregnant heifers. Shortly thereafter, when they’ve dropped, get a bull. This way you’ll build your own herd without the hassle of acquiring one from elsewhere. Hauling and delivering cattle is an expense you can easily avoid. Your herd will slowly begin to grow, allowing you plenty of time to learn, as a cattle farmer, exactly what you need to be successful.
Plan a Year Ahead
Stay a year ahead. What we mean by this is know when and what you’re going to sell, and plan accordingly with breeding your heifers. Remember that grass doesn’t grow in winter and sometimes not even during the summer when the rains refuse to fall. Make a plan to fill a barn with hay. If you’re going for the pure DIY operation, set aside fields for hay and purchase the necessary equipment should be in the business plan. Half ton rolls of good millett, orchard grass and other protein-rich grasses are going for about $45 a roll if you’d rather just buy it.
Raising beef cattle requires hay - and lots of it. You can purchase some from a local farmer or, if you have the equipment, produce some yourself.
Think Outside the Box
One of the most amazing aspects of Jack Daniel’s, besides the whiskey, is that they sell all the used sour mash for cents on the dollar to local cattle farmers. Sure, it’ll make a young calf stagger for a minute, but they’ll quickly acquire a tolerance and organically gain weight. If there’s some kind of co-op like this in your area, find out about it. Consult with other cattle farmers and the local USDA agent. Though it’s a lot of work, there are plenty of resources available to help you succeed. America needs the farmer.