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I'm thinking of raising a beef next year and have 1acre pasture and about 1 acre hay. My other half would like to know the monetary damage this will cause i.e. feed/vet bills before I jump into it. i would like to grass feed as much as possible but realize some corn would be nice towards end. Would buy bull calf (jersey/holstien cross) in spring and raise thru next spring and slaughter in fall. I know there has been a lot on this site about cost, but maybe not asked in such a way. Thanks very muich for help!
-- Dean Graber (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 28, 2002
Dean, no expert here but at home we butcherd our beef steers the same fall after they were born. Don't know if this is the usual or not. Is there a particular reason to keep it over the winter? Curious. LQ
-- Little Quacker (email@example.com), April 28, 2002.
Ok .. Just read your post and think i may be able to throw a bit of light on the subject, and maybe offer a few hints if i may.
It might be worth you purchasing a book called Storey`s guide to raising beef cattle, (im an agric student in the UK and it is very good for the smallholder/homesteader as well as those that own a ranch.
Vet bills can vary, depending if your animal comes down with anything from scours or bloat, (the book explains how to handle these situations urself. (not as difficult or hard as you may have previously thought)).
I assume you will be raising your calf up to 18 months, and then slaughtering it, But it might be wise not to buy a Jersey/Holstein cross. I dont mean to put you off your choice of breed, but seriously, you will mainly get bone and little top quality meat. From lectures i have taken at university, the quality of beef wont be too good, I assume you will want marbling within your meat (fat globules in the meat, improves flavour). For this I would suggest an "Aberdeen Angus cross", or "Red Poll", or possibly even a "dexter", What will produce a good meat animal will be an animal like a "Hereford/fresian cross".
With a jersey/Holstein cross you will get the following most probably, (seen in holstein animals) tall skinny animals with poor quality meat and conformation of muscle structure, a severe lack of depth to meat, and the more food you feed it the taller it gets and the more is wasted, the Holstein is bred for milk production and nothing else, thats why they have 70kg milk capacity udders. The Jersey heifer on the other hand is a kind gentle house cow, the jersey bulls are reknown for their big head, and dangerous depostion, Now by no means are all the breed like that but they are of again poor meat quality all though they do offer the marbled meat but again they lack muscle depth and conformation of muscle structure.
So you may ask why do people sell Jersey/holstein cross bull calves? the truth of the matter is they want to combine the thick gorgeous milk of the jersey with the large milk capacity of the holstein. the bull calves are mearly a wastage, due to the problem on average 1 out of 2 are going to be male.
Now im not assuming you are wanting to raise a beast of an animal the size of a car, (thats a european car not an american one!). But there are small dual purpose breeds which porduce good meat and to be honest THIS WILL SAVE YOU MONEY!
Because if you have to feed an animal 150kg (330lb) of concentrate, (not suggesting you will feed it this much its just a figure depending on your feed regime) but if you do have to feed it a set amount of feed you may as well get meat from the feed you give it rather than bone fat, which is probably what you will get alot more of if you purchase a jersey/holstein cross.
Now i realise i may have been rather pushy in my writing here, but i do believe that if money is an object, you would be better off not flogging a dead horse.
If you are in the USA i believe you may have an agricultural extension service, which may be worth contacting, for further information. I Hope what i have typed helps, im sorry i couldnt give you exact figures but the feeds change prices as does vets bills, Dont over estimate shopping around for better deals, and buying in bulk also helps maybe get involved with a neighbour to cut costs.
Salt licks (otherwise known as mineral licks) unlike other animals cattle cant actually tell if they are short of iron or another mineral, as can animals like pigs and sheep, (clever animals they are), they actually will go to the mineral lick for the salt, so if one of these is available it might be a good investment to ward off things like mineral deficiencies, (these can kill the animal as im sure you will know, and if one is available, it would save you been told so by a vet, as he presents you with a bill for a injection that a mineral lick would have done.
Basically Buy the book "Storey`s guide to raising beef cattle" its the best book i have ever bought on the subject. covers the health, feeding, costs and basically everything from birth to slaughter. Also the pasture.. have you a particular mix of grasses? One which is a great favourite of cattle in all climates is:
5kg, (11lb)intermediate perennial ryegrass 5kg, (11lb) Late perennial ryegrass 3kg, (6 1/2lb) Creeping red fescue 2kg, (4 1/2Lb) Timothy grass
Sow at 37kg/ha (33lb/acre)
Also a slight addition of herb seeds to the pasture will improve the nutritional value and provide more interest for the calf.
Burnet (brings calcium to the calf) Ribgrass (most mineral rich herb of all herbs) Yarrow (high in protein) Chicory (contains trace elements and vitamins)
2 1/4 lbs of these herb seeds (mixed)/per acre
I really hope everything i have posted helps you, if you want to know anything else my email is on the end of my message so just drop me a email and ill answer as soon as i can.
Bye for now.
-- Craig (Ruskie@absolutevodka.fsnet.co.uk), April 28, 2002.
Dean, I raise Dexter cattle. An acre of pasture is more than enough to sustain a Dexter. Many of the Dexter breeders strickly grass-feed their Dexters before slaughter. The BEST time, usually, for slaughtering a BULL, ( does NOT effect the meat if you don't castrate), or steer, really depends on how they have matured, but usually it us thought to be around 20-24 months.
The Dexter meat has a unique taste. Very tasty. Since Dexters are smaller in stature, the cuts are much smaller, and there is less strain on the freezer if you are keeping an entire beef for yourself.
Just a suggestion - -
Now as to VET bills. What do you need a VET for? ? Put your animal on good pasture, and good clean water, and butcher it when you are ready. There should be NO vet bill. Why are you choosing a dairy breed for your BEEF? Just curious.
-- Judy (JMcFerrin@aol.com), April 28, 2002.
If you've got good pasture, and rotate it properly(i.e.-section it off into small pieces so that your calf doesn't graze the whole thing at once), it probably won't cost much at all to raise a calf to slaughter size. Your vet costs should be $0 or close to it. Cattle are pretty hardy critters and rarely need any medical attention. If possible, buy a calf that already weaned (high quality milk replacer is very expensive!)and castrated. I don't see any problem with raising a dairy breed for beef, tho I'd rather not have any Jersey in the cross due to the slower growth rate. Pure Holstein or Holstein/beef breed will grow to slaughter size quicker and have a little more fat in it's carcass than a Holstein/Jersey cross. Don't let anyone tell you that beef from dairy breeds isn't as good as meat from beef breeds. Studies have shown that in blind taste tests people can't tell the difference. The last one we killed was pure Holstein- he was yummy!
Rough costs- weaned calf-$200-250. Polywire,step-in posts, and charger to divide pasture- $150(reuseable for the next calf), a couple of mineral blocks- $5 ea., a couple of big round bales of hay for winter- $15-25 each, a package or two of wormer $3-4 each and maybe 4-500lbs of corn to finish(around here from a feed mill not a farm store about $6.50/cwt.) You may also want to count on a couple hundred more lbs of feed if you feel like feeding the critter a little bit every day just to keep him half-way friendly.
-- shakeytails in KY (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 28, 2002.
I think i may a struck a raw nerve ending... cause since i made my post i have recieved quite a few emails telling me about the dairy breeds make good beef animals.
Well my only response to that is that all breeds will have meat on them but the fact of the matter is from research done upon the university farms and literature, is that breeds are either bred for beef or dairy, very rarely dual purpose, and to use a dairy breed cross (from two important dairy breeds) for meat, when a breed bred for beef will provide more meat.
Some one said to me that jersey and holstein produce more meat to feed ratio, while i havent seen the literature of this evidence, this can only be described as a half truth, for the fact of the matter is that a beef breed will produce more meat to bone than any pure dairy breed.
The fact that high quality cuts and quanity of high quality meat will be produced from beef breeds.
Here in the UK, there is a situation developing in the UK market as we cant ship Veal calfs to france because of animal rights people making th govt make some stupid law about live exports, back in 1996. therefore the market knows that its easier to cull the bull holstein calves at birth than to bother trying to take them upto slaughter weight.
The holstein bulls do grow tall and leggie and im speaking from experience of having seen the research taking place. By no means do i want to discourage you from doing what your heart wishes but im mearly trying to drop some points of advice from what i have seen and researched myself.
Finally.. Look at a dairy animal, a jersy and a holstein, you can see that they look boney and well not exactly plump of meat, now look at a continetal European breed, Charalois. They packed to bursting point with high quality cuts of meat. Now by no means am i suggesting getting a beast that will grow to the size of a charalois, as you will need a freezer the size of a car, and it will probably take you an entire summer of hosting dinner parties with beef on the menu to work your way thought a side of the animal.
But what has been pointed out in another post is why choose a dairy breed.
Compare them for yourself, the size of the animals. And if still not convinced, then why do we have beef breeds?? if dairy ones will do? The bone to muscle ratio is higger in the dairy breeds than in the beef breeds, so why convert your feed to bone and not to some nice meat? (if you got a dog the size of a small horse im sure he`ll be happy for the bone).
But seriously, Thats mearly my two cents, and im sorry if i have offended people by what i have said, but the facts speak for themselves. As far as meat production goes, a meat breed will get you a better return in quality (marbling) and quanity of beef, even if it means outlaying a little extra for the calf.
Ohh on the point made about blind trials of beef, from different animals, i researched that point with my lecturers, and i was told that a PHD student did something like that in there thesis, and marbling of the meat and different breed beef can be noticed i.e Angus is generally has more marbling than a Charalois.
anyway that book i suggested getting in a earlier post will tell you everything you will possibly need to know.
All thats left for me to say is good luck! and let me know how you get on.
-- craig (email@example.com), April 29, 2002.
You go Craig! Wow you know your stuff, and I do agree, beef breeds are bread for beef. Dairy for milk. Makes sense.
-- julie (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 29, 2002.
We get 2 Jersy or Holstein calves every spring, feed them on milk concentrate powder until they graze, give a grain supplement for a bit, then leave them on pasture until the automn. The calves cost 0-40 dollars cdn, the milk $100.00 cdn per calf, salt block, and fencing. We also get them butchered elsewhere as we do not have the facilities. That price depends on weight, cuts, and how many of the other 'parts' you want to keep (head, hide etc.)- $100.00+ CDN per calf. We chop them when grass has run out, October - November for our climate.
The cuts are smaller than a real beef cow would be, but are they ever tender!
-- Chenoa (email@example.com), April 29, 2002.