For a lot of farmers, raising livestock plays a big role in bringing in some income as a home business. The kind of livestock a farmer chooses to raise in his land is determined by the size of the farm, the available food sources, the type of climate your farm is located in and the available market.
Some may argue and say it is much cheaper to buy meat than to raise it, while in a way maybe true, but there are lots of other factors to consider with homestead raised meat than just money alone.
Red meat, beef in particular will always malign as one of the biggest detriments to humans health plus well-being. You as a livestock farmer can raise your own tasty and nutritious beef in your own farm, and do so without a lot of chemicals and fat that is found in commercially raised beef.
Homestead livestock farmers like you mainly raise their own beef on hay and grass, with just a little of supplements or grain. The cattle have free access to high-magnesium blocks, trace minerals, pasture and water which help in producing fine healthy beef which is far much leaner than the one bought in stores.
If one may compare home-raised vs store-bought meat, it’s all about quality. When you raise your own cattle for beef, you have one thing in mind and that is to supply your family with fresh healthy meat. Whilst on the other hand commercially raised beef has one goal, and that is to produce the most marketable meat at the quickest time possible. They try to reduce the cost of raising them so that they can make the highest profits as possible, and by this quality suffers.
Another advantage of raising your own beef cattle is that in case of an economic downfall a livestock farmer will not suffer that much with food supply because they have a food source available. Folks that are dependent on grocery shops will be left bewildered wondering what to do next when the meat shelves get depleted of their stock.
If you may have kids in your farm, the children can have a lot to learn from your livestock. They will quickly learn how to be responsible by feeding and managing the cattle. It will also help in building their self-esteem and work ethic. Doing all this will contribute in growing the youngsters into responsible and productive adults who aren’t afraid of hard work.
A child who is raised in a farm will learn to appreciate and respect the life cycle of animals since they will see where their food comes from not like youngsters who grew up in the cities who just know that food is bought from shops. Children growing up in livestock farms learn the ‘facts of life’ when managing the livestock on the homestead which God has put on this world for man to take care and use wisely.
While this may be pretty obvious, when getting into cattle farming you should keep in mind that cattle are large animals and can easily reach 1000 to 2000 pounds. With this it is important to respect them because if they can get frightened or excited they can seriously hurt or even kill a person. Although this is likely to happen, as a farmer you should take caution when dealing with them.
Most cattle farmers have an interesting and educational experience when raising cattle, not forgetting profitable. Although small livestock farmers with a small herd of about six cows will not get rich from their herds, but herd like this can help in paying property taxes and keeping the pastures trimmed at all times. But that doesn’t mean they can’t sell a few healthy calves or butchering beef to make some money.
The type of cattle breeds to choose from:
When starting out in cattle farming you should make up your mind on the type of cattle you want to raise. Generally there are two types of cattle, which are beef and dairy cows. Among dairy cows there are Holstein, Guernsey, Brown Swiss and Jersey breeds. And on beef cows you will get Hereford and Angus breeds. Other breeds include Semintal, Saler and Charolais cattle.
Dairy and beef cattle have over the years been carefully bred to produce the best possible milk and quality meat. Dairy breeds are bred to convert feed into milk and are not heavily muscled to produce meat like stocky beef breeds are. Their bodies are physically built to produce milk. Whilst beef breeds are bred to convert feed into meaty muscled carcass.
But this doesn’t mean that dairy cows cannot be raised for beef, a lot of livestock farmers have done so. Jersey bull calf can be raised to become roasts and steaks. However when breeding back the family milk cow to freshen, farmers choose an Angus bull or other suitable beef breeds. The result of this is renewed milk and a calf suited to meat production since it will have many characters of its Angus parents.
During the summer months you can allow your cattle to graze on pastures, but it the winter it is wise to give them some hay as well. What is hay? Hay is grass that is cut up and cured for later use, like winter seasons. Most farmers store it loose, in large round bales or small square bales.
Hay prices differ from place to place and are usually sold by the bales or tonnes. Bales weighing round about 50 to 75 pounds will normally sell for $1.00 to $1.50 for mixed grass hay. Alfalfa can sell for around $3.00-5.00 per bale. Large bales can come in various sizes and prices based on the make and size of the baler turning them. A fully mature cow may consume around one-half a bale of hay in a given day during the winter.
The proper fencing for your cattle:
When raising beef cattle it is very important that you fence your livestock ranch, the last thing you would want is your cattle going around destroying your neighbour’s property and plant fields.
A recommended fence to build is of sturdy woven wire on stout posts, this fence comes in different heights, and a suitable height is 40-inch. When installing the fence it’s a good idea to have a few inches extra at the top and bottom. When it’s erected, you should add a strand, a simple barbed wire at the top and bottom. Adding these strands of barbed wire will discourage the cattle from stretching out their heads trying to eat plants that are on the other side of the fence. This will also help you save on repairing of your fence since your cattle won’t be able to stretch out.
Some farmers use an electric fence as an alternative option. Don’t be afraid and that think it can electrocute your livestock, once the cattle notice its discomfort they will simple stay away from it.
Raising your cattle on pasture:
Raising cattle on pasture is highly recommended if you want to produce quality healthy beef. A couple of acres can be good enough to maintain one cow in the summer, but in the winter it may need more. To allow the pasture to grow a farmer would rotate the livestock to other areas from time to time. This also helps in destroying any living parasites.
The shelter for your cattle:
Just like any other livestock, cattle also need some shelter. The shelter you build should be draft free yet not air tight. An ideal setup is one with 3 sides closed in and the other side open looking at the opposite direction of the in-coming wind. Cattle give out a lot of moisture so it is important that the pen is not airtight so the moisture can escape. The shelter shouldn’t be something fancy but has to be sturdy.