• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Carla Burke
  • John F Dean
  • Nancy Reading
  • r ranson
  • Jay Angler
  • Pearl Sutton
stewards:
  • Leigh Tate
  • paul wheaton
  • Nicole Alderman
master gardeners:
  • Timothy Norton
  • Christopher Weeks
gardeners:
  • Saana Jalimauchi
  • Jeremy VanGelder
  • Ulla Bisgaard

Considering a beef cow, maybe

 
pollinator
Posts: 602
Location: Northern Puget Sound, Zone 8A
109
homeschooling kids trees chicken cooking sheep
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Personally I'm more interested in smaller ruminants like sheep or goats, but my wife is interested in maybe raising a beef cow.  I know essentially nothing about what a cow needs, beyond the obvious like food and clean water, so some basic things to consider would be appreciated.  E.g. what kind of shelter do they need, what should I plant for forage, how much land does 1 cow require, is there a breed that might work better for my situation than others, etc?  

I know that with sheep and goats you can't have just 1 due to their social nature.  I wasn't sure if cows were similar, or if they are happy as a single animal.  Unless we got a miniature breed I can't imagine being able to eat more than 1 cow in a year, even with 4 kids (2 of them teens).

I former classmate and his wife raised a beef cow, and I remember the problems they had keeping it contained.  My wife grew up seeing some family members raise them, but never really paid attention to the details.  I've heard that if trained on hot poly-wire fencing as a calf they do a good job respecting it, but otherwise it's really hard to keep them in and fencing can be tough to get strong enough.

Also, while I would like to go grass fed all the way, she's had a hard time enjoying the flavor of entirely grass fed beef.  Maybe it was the grass those particular cows were on, maybe it was something else about how they were raised.  But is there a good way to raise beef without grain where it will taste better to a typical American palate?  If not, how long would the beef need to be finished on grain to have that preferred flavor?

FWIW, I live about 80 miles north of Seattle.  It's pretty temperate for climate.  I have nearly 5 acres, and about 2-2.5 is in grass at the moment.  Should wind up with more grass eventually, maybe another 0.5-1 acre worth.  Currently we have chickens and turkeys.  The meat poultry is, of course, a temporary addition to the landscape, but does help to fertilize the lawn.  We also have a couple dozen laying hens (or will once the new chicks mature and we cull the roosters).  So I could potentially do a Salatin style rotational grazing with the cow and follow that with the hens a few days behind.  
 
Posts: 75
Location: Sweden
11
cattle transportation woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I had started with two small calfes.They are social animals and want company.Do not worry about the meat.Leave it to a good butcher and get it packed,inform your friends at Facebook and you wished you had more meat to sell.It is vey popular with meat produced close to the consumers.
When you have your calves,cuddle them and they will love you all their lives,almost like a dog.Green grass is the best fence.Electricity will be good and train them two or three times to the electric fence and they never touch it again.
 
Posts: 263
64
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Andrew,

You could raise two cows on your available acreage, plus have five goats and five sheep in the same pen. Though I would recomend mobile paddocks for rotational grazing.

You may need to buy hay for your winter though, at about 4 tons per month when your grass isn't growing. Essentially your feilds need to produce about 50 lbs of dry matter per day, or supplement with hay to reach the equivalent.

You want a breed that does well on grass forage, and isn't to crazy large. I would recomend the Devon breed. They are known as being extremely hardy, good daily gains on grass, extremely tasty and mild tempered. They are big, but not crazy big.

Two months of grain feeding should be equivalent to a feed lot, but maybe try sprouted whole grains during that fattening period. So you can get the best of both worlds, flavor and health.

For shelter they don't need much. A three sided dirt floor shed with a roof leaning away from the entrance, so they can escape from wind and rain. You'll just want to make sure you have drainage from the shed, so they aren't standing in mud or water.

Beyond proper rotations for paracite control, and a vets number in your phone book, you shouldn't need to much beyond that for a few beef cows on their way to freezer camp. That is if you understand how to properly feed and care for rumens.

P.S. For goats I would recomend Kikos, and for sheep, a hair sheep with good paracite resistance like St. Crox; however, there are a couple other good hair sheep breeds like them.

Hope that helps!
 
pollinator
Posts: 982
Location: New Brunswick, Canada
242
duck tiny house chicken composting toilet homestead
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
A single cow will be lonely and more prone to trying to get past the fence, so that may have been part of the problem.  You also have to train animals to respect electric fencing as it's not a physical barrier, so that may have contributed as well.  To do that, you need a good physical fence that they can't get through and an electric fence inside that.  It's best to have them drawn to it with something visible and conductive, like pop cans.

 
steward
Posts: 3674
Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
946
12
hugelkultur urban chicken food preservation bike bee
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We are very much enjoying our Dexter cattle, their smaller size makes them great for beginners, and you can have more of them on less land.  We have more than 15 acres of pasture (I think) so more than what you have to work with, but I very much think that cattle need friends to be happy.  You should be able to have two - I'd buy a yearling steer and an older steer, and then get a new young steer every year.  Dexters are easy keepers, tend to be friendly and finish well on grass.
Dexters-in-spring.jpg
Dexter cattle Oregon May
Dexter cattle Oregon May
 
Posts: 664
Location: Australia, New South Wales. Köppen: Cfa (Humid Subtropical), USDA: 10/11
3
transportation hugelkultur cat forest garden fish trees urban chicken cooking woodworking homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
A work colleague had Belted Galloway cattle - they come in miniature and mid sizes, and good for mixed climate and rough pasture. Very good meat.



 
Andrew Mayflower
pollinator
Posts: 602
Location: Northern Puget Sound, Zone 8A
109
homeschooling kids trees chicken cooking sheep
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Awesome info.  

I do like the idea of the Dexters given their smaller size as that would be not only easier on the land, but easier to home slaughter rather than having to send it to a processor.

The Devons sound really interesting too.

I was chatting with a friend about this and he mentioned that another person he knows would get the bull calves from a local dairy.  Apparently they literally give them away, but then you have to bottle feed them for 9-12 months or so until they are capable of living on grass.  So not sure I'm going to be up for that, unless it's a significant cost savings over buying them weaned.  I guess that person my friend knows gets the excess milk from the same dairy (also for free, as it would otherwise would thrown away), but I'm not close enough to any dairies to make that feasible.  Also, not sure I want to put that much work into a cow for 9+ months.  I suppose if I wanted veal it would be a good way to go, but I've eaten so little veal that I'm not sure I'd want to go through the trouble of raising a cow for such a purpose.
 
pollinator
Posts: 508
Location: Longview, WA - USA
68
7
cattle forest garden trees earthworks food preservation
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Bottle feeding is a pretty big chore!  Also both the human and bovine tend to get fairly attached like mom and baby - it's harder to slaughter an animal that you've raised that comes to greet you for a head scratch..
I would agree getting two weaned calves and raising them - you can raise a heifer calf for meat also.
Keep in mind that winter feeding in our area can be expensive, so planning ahead to buy hay from the field in the Summer will help on costs.

As for breed and  taste, we settled with the Wagyu (Kobe beef) genetics for getting a nice marbling in grassfed beef -- I highly recommend that!
 
Andrew Mayflower
pollinator
Posts: 602
Location: Northern Puget Sound, Zone 8A
109
homeschooling kids trees chicken cooking sheep
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What is a reasonable estimate for expenses to buy and raise a couple steers?  This is important as that expense is all up front, and then it takes quite a while to eat all the meat and realize the value in terms of lower grocery bills.  Plus, I don't want to wind up raising $20/lb beef.  It's fine if it winds up a little more than I could buy it for at the store, I just have to keep it close.

Let's say Dexters just to keep the breed variable down.  Don't include things like fencing, as that is highly dependent on local factors, both specific to my property and my geographic area.  Mostly I'm interested in the price of the steers, feed costs (assuming sufficient grass except from late-October to early/mid March, and finishing on grain for 1-2 months), parasite control or other vet type care, and anything else that's a potential driver on costs.  

My hope would be that if we get any steers that by the time slaughter is upon us I'll have a CoolBot type of chiller set up and the ability to do all the slaughter and butchery myself.
 
pollinator
Posts: 4958
1194
transportation duck trees rabbit tiny house chicken earthworks building woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think the best advice for a homesteader is to go to a local dairy farm and ask if they have bull calves. They are useless on a dairy farm, yet get many of them. After all the fees are paid, they might make $10 on a bull calf...and no, I did not leave out any zero's.

With dairy farmers you have two options, you can either take the young calf and feed it yourself. or let the dairy farmer feed it for you, and pay more money since they have milk replacer invested in it. Either way is fine, just more of a gamble if you immediately take it home because if it gets sick, you have to care for it. I have done the latter several times, and had a calf die which saved me some time and money. The key is talking to a dairy farmer, if you are cordial, they will set aside a nice big healthy bull calf for you. Just be sure to reiterate that you will properly take care of it. Big dairy farms, despite having thousands of cows, really want an animal to be treated well, and far too many times we have seen nice calves get mistreated by homesteaders and die. So reiterating that you really will take care of it, will go a long way to getting a nice bull calf for very little money.

As for the breed. Stay clear of bull Jersey cows. THEY ARE MEAN. Period. Drop the mike, Do not bother at all with them. If that is all you can get, then be sure it is at least cut.

But Holsteins...people do not know this but about 14% of the beef on the national food chain is Holstein. But Holstein cows actually taste better than Black Angus...the latter is just a marketing ploy. In national beef taste tests, Jersey has won for 8 consecutive years, with Holstein being second all those years. The reason Black Angus has the reputation is that they get more pounds of meat per animal. A Holstein has big bones so its meat to weight ratio is less, and it is a milk producing animal. But it does not mean they do not taste great.

For a homesteader, good gracious, paying $10 for a Holstein bull, and then slaughtering it will give you excellent beef for the least amount of money. What little bit more meat you get for a beef breed, will be lost in how much is paid for it as a calf.

As far as companion animals; that is a myth with cows. They are not like flock animals like sheep, and will thrive alone. I know because I have got multiple bull calfs off our dairy farm, and raise them on my farm as single animals. I have also used cows (Holstein Steers) as companions with my sheep to co-graze and act as a guard animal. They do not work as well as a guard dog, but having size in the pasture means a coyote will think rwice about dining on lamb, or just trying to find lunch somewhere else. But there is a downside. The cows tended to chase the sheep in playful antics, and so their grazing was disturbed at times, meaning they could have grew bigger, faster without a cow in the pasture, but it was rather a minor thing.

As for grass fed beef. That is more of a marketing and ethical thing than anything. I have raised grass fed lamb and beef, but myself think it tastes disgusting. That has been from both my own animals I have raised, but also from grass fed beef at expensive restraunts. But I grew up eating our own livestock that got grain, so I got used to the flavor. I have no issues with people who raise grass fed only animals, heck I did, but they do taste drastically different. For me, I never grain livestock while on pasture, but in the winter, when they are just getting hay, and at a time when their feed needs are higher, I will give them grain, just because a little bit does so much for them. And with only a few animals, the cost is cheap.

Another thing a homesteader can do, is buy a dairy calf every year, and not even bother to over-winter a cow. In that way there is no hay to buy. Yes, the cow will not be nearly as big as waiting until it is fully-grown, but still will yield 100 pounds of meat...not bad considering the low cost to purchase and just some fence. Or buy two calfs in the spring, over-winter one, and slaughter the other so that in a few months there is some meat in the freezer. Then the next spring buy a third and so there is now a rotation of cows so that every year one can be slaughtered keeping meat constantly in the freezer.
 
Travis Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 4958
1194
transportation duck trees rabbit tiny house chicken earthworks building woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Rolf Olsson wrote:I had started with two small calfes.They are social animals and want company.Do not worry about the meat.Leave it to a good butcher and get it packed,inform your friends at Facebook and you wished you had more meat to sell.It is vey popular with meat produced close to the consumers.
When you have your calves,cuddle them and they will love you all their lives,almost like a dog.Green grass is the best fence.Electricity will be good and train them two or three times to the electric fence and they never touch it again.




You are absolutely right. years ago I used to go out every day and feed my Holstein Bull Calf, roll it over, tackle it, rub its belly, and just mess with it. We slaughtered him at 2 years old...uncut, and you could go right up to him and say, "Come on Steak, let's go for a walk", and he would go anywhere I wanted too.

Ove the years I have had many cows like this. They are really tame if you treat them like dogs, and is why back in real homesteading days, it was rare for them to have a horse. They used oxen because they pulled more, were hardier, and could be eaten if required. The fact that they were slower than horses did not matter. I love my tractor, but in another life, I might have had a team of oxen...I really like cows.

 
Travis Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 4958
1194
transportation duck trees rabbit tiny house chicken earthworks building woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Oh...one more important point.

I mentioned fencing...NOT NEEDED!

Cows cannot chew through rope, so on many of my cows, before I got fencing for my sheep, I would just tether them out.

I made a metal plate that had to plates welded to it at angles, then a eye pad that swiveled at the top. I would just bury this metal plate in a shallow hole, attach a 50 foot rope to it, and then to the cow. As it neared the end of the rope, it would pull on the metal plate causing it to dig harder into the ground, yet the swivel kept the cow from winding up its rope. I never had any problems, and as the cow grazed down all the grass. I would just dig a new hole, bury the plate, and then have him graze that down. I had to move it every week, but that was not so bad. Just be sure to place the water bucket where the cow can drink, yet not within the circle so it would ensnare the rope. It will likely knock it over anyway.

A welding shop could make the swiveling deadman for about $20.

In the end it would be very cheap to graze a single cow. Just be sue to always check on the cow once per day for water needs, and amount of feed it is grazing on.
 
pollinator
Posts: 872
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
174
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This year is unique in that there is a serious feed shortage developing in many parts of the US. This means that you can probably get livestock cheap or free if you aren't fussy about the breed because there will be a lot of animals being put into the ground shortly.

I'm not kidding. Small square bales of hay were selling at auction for $65 last weekend in Ohio (that isn't a typo).

If I were you I would be all over a mob stocking type of setup.

Oh any you are right about handling them. Remember that young cattle are literally children. They love to play and are intensely curious. They get big before they tone down their playfulness so you need to be wary of getting accidentally hurt during their rambunctious greetings.
 
gardener & hugelmaster
Posts: 3616
Location: Gulf of Mexico cajun zone 8
1914
cattle hugelkultur cat dog trees hunting chicken bee woodworking homestead ungarbage
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Good points Nick. Expect grain prices to skyrocket soon due to all the flooding in the midwest.

If a goat steps on your foot it might break your toe. If a cow steps on your foot it might be deadly.
 
rocket scientist
Posts: 5959
Location: latitude 47 N.W. montana zone 6A
2903
cat pig rocket stoves
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hey Nick;
What we call "small" square bales around here weigh #60-80 each.
Lets hope your referring to the "larger, small" square bales... If not , then even a pickup load of hay is very valuable!  
 
Andrew Mayflower
pollinator
Posts: 602
Location: Northern Puget Sound, Zone 8A
109
homeschooling kids trees chicken cooking sheep
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Travis Johnson wrote:Oh...one more important point.

I mentioned fencing...NOT NEEDED!

Cows cannot chew through rope, so on many of my cows, before I got fencing for my sheep, I would just tether them out.

I made a metal plate that had to plates welded to it at angles, then a eye pad that swiveled at the top. I would just bury this metal plate in a shallow hole, attach a 50 foot rope to it, and then to the cow. As it neared the end of the rope, it would pull on the metal plate causing it to dig harder into the ground, yet the swivel kept the cow from winding up its rope. I never had any problems, and as the cow grazed down all the grass. I would just dig a new hole, bury the plate, and then have him graze that down. I had to move it every week, but that was not so bad. Just be sure to place the water bucket where the cow can drink, yet not within the circle so it would ensnare the rope. It will likely knock it over anyway.

A welding shop could make the swiveling deadman for about $20.

In the end it would be very cheap to graze a single cow. Just be sue to always check on the cow once per day for water needs, and amount of feed it is grazing on.



If you could post a photo of that deadman that would be appreciated.  I think I understand your design, but a picture would be nice.
 
Nick Kitchener
pollinator
Posts: 872
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
174
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

thomas rubino wrote:Hey Nick;
What we call "small" square bales around here weigh #60-80 each.
Lets hope your referring to the "larger, small" square bales... If not , then even a pickup load of hay is very valuable!  



I'm not actually sure. The article I read talked about the average price they usually go for is $5-$6 if that is useful to you. Either way it represents a tenfold increase in feed prices. Granted, it's a localized situation as far as I know, and people are probably already moving to fill the supply void.

How big of a problem this is exactly yet to be determined (30 million acres of corn not planted for starters) but if you happen to live in an area where there is plenty of feed, it could be a good time to build out your herds.
 
Timothy Markus
pollinator
Posts: 982
Location: New Brunswick, Canada
242
duck tiny house chicken composting toilet homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Nick Kitchener wrote:

thomas rubino wrote:Hey Nick;
What we call "small" square bales around here weigh #60-80 each.
Lets hope your referring to the "larger, small" square bales... If not , then even a pickup load of hay is very valuable!  



I'm not actually sure. The article I read talked about the average price they usually go for is $5-$6 if that is useful to you. Either way it represents a tenfold increase in feed prices. Granted, it's a localized situation as far as I know, and people are probably already moving to fill the supply void.

How big of a problem this is exactly yet to be determined (30 million acres of corn not planted for starters) but if you happen to live in an area where there is plenty of feed, it could be a good time to build out your herds.



As of last week the cash croppers around here had half the soybean in and no corn, due to too much rain.  
 
pollinator
Posts: 191
Location: west Texas (Odessa/Midland)
47
2
cattle dog foraging trees rabbit tiny house books chicken pig writing homestead
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My only personal experience is raising a mid size Jersey heifer and a like steer that was practically thrown in for free.

The steer was never as tame but was not mean either.

He was exceptionally good eating when we processed him at 600 lbs.

The cow buddied up to the pig in the next pen over while she was alone. She seemed fine. Now she has a calf.
It makes me very happy to have my own beef in the freezer even though ours is expensive as we have no pasture. We are moving next year and pasture is at the top of my list. Will definitely always have a meat cow growing in it.
 
Posts: 62
14
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Andrew Mayflower wrote:

Travis Johnson wrote:Oh...one more important point.

I mentioned fencing...NOT NEEDED!

Cows cannot chew through rope, so on many of my cows, before I got fencing for my sheep, I would just tether them out.

I made a metal plate that had to plates welded to it at angles, then a eye pad that swiveled at the top. I would just bury this metal plate in a shallow hole, attach a 50 foot rope to it, and then to the cow. As it neared the end of the rope, it would pull on the metal plate causing it to dig harder into the ground, yet the swivel kept the cow from winding up its rope. I never had any problems, and as the cow grazed down all the grass. I would just dig a new hole, bury the plate, and then have him graze that down. I had to move it every week, but that was not so bad. Just be sure to place the water bucket where the cow can drink, yet not within the circle so it would ensnare the rope. It will likely knock it over anyway.

A welding shop could make the swiveling deadman for about $20.

In the end it would be very cheap to graze a single cow. Just be sue to always check on the cow once per day for water needs, and amount of feed it is grazing on.



If you could post a photo of that deadman that would be appreciated.  I think I understand your design, but a picture would be nice.



++++Sorry this answer is so long😊++++

Andrew, I've been reading through your thread, and, correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like you and the Mrs. Are not exactly on the same page about getting cattle?

I will give you some advice on things I've learned, but I think FIRST it's important to get on the same page with whoever else is going to share in the responsibility of keeping the animals.

That being said: my husband and I have raised BOTH sheep and cows, and I personally prefer cows. They are both social, so will have to get at least two.

Why: they need just about the same things sheep do, except they give you WAY more back then sheep do. Meat, milk, their bones, heck, I've even composted their poop- you get way more back for your investment. And they require less fencing for us due to their size. We do electric, and all I have to do is one wire for adults, as opposed to almost chicken-like fencing I used for the sheep. And I hated when their necks would get stuck in the fence, and then they'd have to be freed before they shocked themselves to death.

That being said: with cows, know some cons, if you consider then cons:
- they are larger animals, and your wife will probably need your help with them at some point.

- they will eat more, so you will need more, hay and grass to efficiently keep them. Sheep can eat (some) weeds, but they eat less, DEPENDING on how many you get.

-this isn't necessarily a con, but note WHAT kind of cattle you're getting, and WHERE you're getting them from.
We started our cattle journey out with two jerseys that we bought from a known area that supports dairy's, and after she calved, she was a MESS- she was not ready for an all grass diet, and we eventually had to supplement with feed. If you buy from a dairy, i would breed out the feed dependent genetics at least two generations in.

Our journey then took us to a bred braunveigh that had strong brown swiss genetics. She calved a half belted Galloway bull, which we raised as a steer. We kept him on her for a good 9 months and then had him slaughtered. He was a big boy, and we milked her, and got an INCREDIBLE amount of cream and milk, which we could use to feed some other animals as well as ourselves.

BUT... She was too big for me to milk alone. And she really needed more pasture than our 6 acres. We needed something more grass efficient for our smaller property, which we hadn't seeded very well, so it was mainly the native grasses that were growing.

We finally got two breeding Devons from a breeder that uses primarily grass, with some molasses supplement here and there.

We got them as yearlings, and they are doing GREAT on our pasture, crappy as it is. My heifer is bred and due to calve soon, and I am betting she will still look great after wards.

If you stick with sheep, I recommend st croix. We had several different hare sheep, and st croix gave us the best meat, they did great in the heat, and you're bound to get twins or even triplets in their births. They also have a much shorter turnaround time (4 months) as opposed to cows (9 months).

Our Devons are gentle, extremely hardy, and in my opinion, don't require as much as even the sheep did. And I prefer their meat and milk over sheep meat and milk. Especially if you're eating it every day for lunch and dinner.

That big steer gave us delicious roasts and steaks for lunch and dinner for the entire winter season, for a family of five. That sheep meat won't last long, and their milk isn't bad, but it's strong like goat milk, and I can't really handle the strong taste and smell.

So, really, they BOTH are going to be a little work for you guys, but not as much as baby chicks and poultry. It really depends on what you're willing to do, and what you really want.

I don't really think I would keep cattle without my husband, just because of their size. I don't like dwarf breeds, as I've heard of many genetic problems, and our Devons don't get crazy big and are slow growing.

Hope you make a decision that you both would love!
 
Rachel Elijah
Posts: 62
14
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Travis Johnson wrote:Oh...one more important point.

I mentioned fencing...NOT NEEDED!

Cows cannot chew through rope, so on many of my cows, before I got fencing for my sheep, I would just tether them out.

I made a metal plate that had to plates welded to it at angles, then a eye pad that swiveled at the top. I would just bury this metal plate in a shallow hole, attach a 50 foot rope to it, and then to the cow. As it neared the end of the rope, it would pull on the metal plate causing it to dig harder into the ground, yet the swivel kept the cow from winding up its rope. I never had any problems, and as the cow grazed down all the grass. I would just dig a new hole, bury the plate, and then have him graze that down. I had to move it every week, but that was not so bad. Just be sure to place the water bucket where the cow can drink, yet not within the circle so it would ensnare the rope. It will likely knock it over anyway.

A welding shop could make the swiveling deadman for about $20.

In the end it would be very cheap to graze a single cow. Just be sue to always check on the cow once per day for water needs, and amount of feed it is grazing on.



Travis, the first night I bought my one cow, it mooed at us all night long. My husband got a patio chair and sat out with her at midnight just so she wouldn't wake the neighborhood up. 😄

The next day we bought her a heifer friend. The mooing stopped immediately. They are social animals.

Andrew might benefit from keeping one cow with some sheep, but if he wants to do breeding and has a female, she'll need another cow or else she will start mounting the sheep (or Andrew!)
 
Rachel Elijah
Posts: 62
14
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Rachel Elijah wrote:

Andrew Mayflower wrote:

Travis Johnson wrote:Oh...one more important point.

I mentioned fencing...NOT NEEDED!

Cows cannot chew through rope, so on many of my cows, before I got fencing for my sheep, I would just tether them out.

I made a metal plate that had to plates welded to it at angles, then a eye pad that swiveled at the top. I would just bury this metal plate in a shallow hole, attach a 50 foot rope to it, and then to the cow. As it neared the end of the rope, it would pull on the metal plate causing it to dig harder into the ground, yet the swivel kept the cow from winding up its rope. I never had any problems, and as the cow grazed down all the grass. I would just dig a new hole, bury the plate, and then have him graze that down. I had to move it every week, but that was not so bad. Just be sure to place the water bucket where the cow can drink, yet not within the circle so it would ensnare the rope. It will likely knock it over anyway.

A welding shop could make the swiveling deadman for about $20.

In the end it would be very cheap to graze a single cow. Just be sue to always check on the cow once per day for water needs, and amount of feed it is grazing on.



If you could post a photo of that deadman that would be appreciated.  I think I understand your design, but a picture would be nice.



++++Sorry this answer is so long😊++++

Andrew, I've been reading through your thread, and, correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like you and the Mrs. Are not exactly on the same page about getting cattle?

I will give you some advice on things I've learned, but I think FIRST it's important to get on the same page with whoever else is going to share in the responsibility of keeping the animals.

That being said: my husband and I have raised BOTH sheep and cows, and I personally prefer cows. They are both social, so will have to get at least two.

Why: they need just about the same things sheep do, except they give you WAY more back then sheep do. Meat, milk, their bones, heck, I've even composted their poop- you get way more back for your investment. And they require less fencing for us due to their size. We do electric, and all I have to do is one wire for adults, as opposed to almost chicken-like fencing I used for the sheep. And I hated when their necks would get stuck in the fence, and then they'd have to be freed before they shocked themselves to death.

That being said: with cows, know some cons, if you consider then cons:
- they are larger animals, and your wife will probably need your help with them at some point.

- they will eat more, so you will need more, hay and grass to efficiently keep them. Sheep can eat (some) weeds, but they eat less, DEPENDING on how many you get.

-this isn't necessarily a con, but note WHAT kind of cattle you're getting, and WHERE you're getting them from.
We started our cattle journey out with two jerseys that we bought from a known area that supports dairy's, and after she calved, she was a MESS- she was not ready for an all grass diet, and we eventually had to supplement with feed. If you buy from a dairy, i would breed out the feed dependent genetics at least two generations in.

Our journey then took us to a bred braunveigh that had strong brown swiss genetics. She calved a half belted Galloway bull, which we raised as a steer. We kept him on her for a good 9 months and then had him slaughtered. He was a big boy, and we milked her, and got an INCREDIBLE amount of cream and milk, which we could use to feed some other animals as well as ourselves.

BUT... She was too big for me to milk alone. And she really needed more pasture than our 6 acres. We needed something more grass efficient for our smaller property, which we hadn't seeded very well, so it was mainly the native grasses that were growing.

We finally got two breeding Devons from a breeder that uses primarily grass, with some molasses supplement here and there.

We got them as yearlings, and they are doing GREAT on our pasture, crappy as it is. My heifer is bred and due to calve soon, and I am betting she will still look great after wards.

If you stick with sheep, I recommend st croix. We had several different hare sheep, and st croix gave us the best meat, they did great in the heat, and you're bound to get twins or even triplets in their births. They also have a much shorter turnaround time (4 months) as opposed to cows (9 months).

Our Devons are gentle, extremely hardy, and in my opinion, don't require as much as even the sheep did. And I prefer their meat and milk over sheep meat and milk. Especially if you're eating it every day for lunch and dinner.

That big steer gave us delicious roasts and steaks for lunch and dinner for the entire winter season, for a family of five. That sheep meat won't last long, and their milk isn't bad, but it's strong like goat milk, and I can't really handle the strong taste and smell.

So, really, they BOTH are going to be a little work for you guys, but not as much as baby chicks and poultry. It really depends on what you're willing to do, and what you really want.

I don't really think I would keep cattle without my husband, just because of their size. I don't like dwarf breeds, as I've heard of many genetic problems, and our Devons don't get crazy big and are slow growing.

Hope you make a decision that you both would love!



Oh, and one more thing: if you go the sheep route, it will be crucial to invest in a livestock guardian dog. They are going to be more prey to wolves, coyotes, etc than a big cow. Not to say that it wouldn't be a good idea for cattle, but those smaller livestock need more protection, while I've seen a cow defend itself from a pack of dogs.

Something to consider.
 
please tap on glass. Tap harder. Keep tapping until this tiny ad jumps in your lap
Can we do it? Freaky Cheap Tickets to the 2025 Permaculture Technology Jamboree - this weekend only!
https://permies.com/wiki/259997/Freaky-Cheap-Tickets-Permaculture-Technology
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic