Cow Tips: Raising Cattle

American_farmWith calving season once again around the corner, I wanted to revisit an old post of ours that gave out some quick tips on how to raise your cattle. So, without further ado, here is part one of our cow tips!

Most people who live in the countryside, at some point, learn how to raise cattle, especially when spring comes. Greener pastures and warmer temperatures make it ideal to raise cattle for dairy or for meat. However, raising cattle is only half the battle, once you raise them you also have to maintain them, and that’s learning what you need to do all year round to make sure that your investment, stays alive and healthy. So here are some tips for raising and maintaining cattle.

Raising CattleRaising Cattle

BuyingThe first thing that you want to do once you decide you want to raise a few head of cattle is you need to find a good source for the cows. The best thing to do is to buy a few weaned calves or feeders that are a little bit older depending on your experience and comfort. You can usually scan through local newspapers for ads selling cattle or calves or you can place an ad yourself offering to buy. Also, it would pay to visit the local co-op as this can sometimes lead to some good leads to farmers who have some stock for sale. Auction houses can be another good source for calves, but buyer beware, auctions are notorious for getting rid of sick or ailing animals. If you are unsure what to look for, bring someone who has some expertise with you so you’re not sold a false bill of goods.

ShelterOnce you have your calves you’re going to need someplace to put them. A lot of beginning farmers waste a good sum of money in building expensive barns or sheds to place their cows. Honestly, a windbreak can provide sufficient shelter for calves and older cattle. A lot of beef cows spend most of their life in the open and mainly use what they can find in nature for shelter. While calves should have some protection from wind and rain, even the older feeders are pretty hardy as long as they have access to mom’s udder. One thing you absolutely need to consider when providing shelter for cattle is to make it draft free, but not air tight. Cattle expel a large amount of moisture in breathing and voiding waste. Structures that don’t allow that moisture to escape can cause serious health problems in your cattle.

Also you’re going to make sure you have some sturdy fences when raising cattle. Cows are big and heavy creatures and will tear through things like tissue paper if they’re not built to withstand them. While fences are expensive to build and maintain, one “hot” wire (a wire hooked up into an electric fence charger) will make sure that the cows keep off the fence and will help preserve it.

PastureSeasoned farmers have told us that a mixture of alfalfa, brome, and timothy is considered the best pasture for cattle as it encourages grazing. However, don’t overestimate the carrying capacity of your pastures. While you might see some great lush growth in the spring, that growth will easily turn into much drier and shorter come July and August and you can easily end up with too many cattle and not enough pasture. Plan ahead so you have more grass than cattle and not the opposite.

WaterFinally, make sure you have a good supply of water. Just to give you an idea, cows, on average, drink about 12 gallons of water per day. This average is a good rule of thumb to remember when setting up troughs or tubs as a water source. For the winter time, tank heaters are a great way to save your back from doing too much ice chopping as the weather drops.

Well thanks for coming by for some tips on how to raise cattle, come back next week to see some more tips on how to maintain your cattle and as always, for all your tag needs make sure to check out our range of cattle tags.

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on !

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The Basics of Raising Cattle

Cattle
The cattle business can be stressful, but getting into it can be worth it.  Owning cattle has many benefits, and learning to raise them is a way of life for many farmers. Learning everything about how to raise cattle will take a lot of time and experience, so here’s a brief rundown on what you need to know before getting into the cattle business!

Planning

There are a few different reasons for raising cattle, so you have to decide what your purpose is. Are you raising them for show? For beef or for dairy? For personal use or for selling in mass? You also need to consider how devoted you will be to your business. What’s going to set you apart from the others? Is it the right time to start this business? Once you’ve thought this through, you need to develop a business plan. Then, you need to find the proper grounds. A lot goes into this – the right vegetation, proper fencing, proper shelter, etc. And be advised that cows don’t always need a top of the line barn. You can usually get away with a lot less – i.e., a very basic shelter. After that, you’ll have to purchase machinery (example: a feeding machine). You’re probably thinking that you need to shell out a lot of money before you even buy the cattle. Unfortunately, if you don’t already own a farm, this is true!

Buying

Cattle at Klågerup
As we discussed before, cattle are raised for different reasons. Thus, there are different kinds of cattle, and there are always things you want to be aware of – like mothering ability and good conformation. When you study a cow’s conformation, you’re basically studying it’s structure. You want cattle with good depth of hearth girth, a fairly broad and wide forehead, and many other things. When just starting out, it’s not smart to buy a bunch of cattle at once. You’ll be in over your head. Choose a nice number of good, quality cows. Always go with a reputable breeder, and ask a lot of questions. Take a lot of photos of the cattle you’re looking to purchase, and study them in comparison to pictures of ideal cattle. Once you make a purchase, there’s an entire transferring process. You’ll need a trailer that is slip-free, and you’ll need to make the process from start to finish as quiet as possible. Disturbing the cattle is a big no-no.

Raising

A long time ago there was a computer game called The Oregon Trail, and you had to maintain cattle in order to keep them alive. And it was kind of a tedious process – you did one thing wrong and the cattle were done for. Aspects of that game ring true in real life. Raising the cattle can be difficult, but it can be very rewarding and fun! You’ll have to learn a lot on the technical side, but there are just a few basics you’ll need to know now. Keeping records should be a very high priority — everything from cattle health and vaccination records to purchases. You’ll need to keep up with cattle maintenance regularly – feeding, watering, and health checkups are the three main components. You’ll need to learn a lot about the large amount of water the cattle will drink, the types of food they will eat, etc. And during the whole process, you’ll need to know when it’s a good time to sell your cattle. If you’re raising cattle for personal use, you may not need to worry about that as much.

Sound like a lot of work? It is! But if you have the passion, it won’t even feel like work.

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on !

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