Just wondering in advance. Don't even have cows yet. Any advice is apreciated....whatever questions you asked me, I need help with. My husband is very against a milk cow ( I REALLY want one), but is open to raising some for beef with his family, but he is wondering how long we would have to raise (and pay to feed) them, so he can figure out if it is cost effective. We would be raising 3 cows for 6 families, he isn't looking to make money from it, as long as he at least breaks even. How much should it cost to buy a calf? What breed should we get? Is picking one the same as selecting a milk cow, or do you just take what is there, because all you want to do is get them fat?
I'm suspecting you'd rather eat meat than fat -- so you want a calf with a lot of natural muscling. You can make any animal fat but you can't put muscle on an animal that genetically just doesn't have it.
Beef calves can run from 12-16 months at butchering if grain fed to 24+ months if solely grass fed or run on poor quality hay/pasture.
~Your decisions are only as good as the information you base them on~
We just butchered a 12 mo Jersey/Holstein cross steer. Yum, yum good.
Home to Emma & Fern (Jerseys), Dug (steer) Paprika (Shorthorn/Angus heifer); Candy, Star, Skittles (horses); Louie (Doberman) Gypsy (LGD mix); too many cats & a variety of chickens. RIP to these special ones: Belle (Jersey) Brody (Doberman) Lady (Holstein) Poco (QH)
The least expensive and most effecient way, imo, is 1)get a milk cow 2)get 2-3 very young calves to go on her (or just 1-2 if you want to milk) 3)let her raise them to 5-6 mos of age, wean them (and get 2 more). 4)feed out your calves on grass, good hay or some grain to 12-18 mos of age (depends on age and size).
Calves that have had a start on a cow will be larger, healthier and more robust faster than bottle fed ones. (again my opinion) This allows you to keep her in milk (and milk once a day), which gives you all the dairy products while raising your beef. I don't know that 1/2 calf is enough for a family unless it is just a couple, no kids. Or if you raise a large breed (beefmaster, simbrah, angus, etc). If you raise dairy calves for beef they tend to take a little longer and do not have the same amount of meat--they are dairy after all, different genetics. Are all the families willing to help pay for the calves and the cow and feed, etc, up front? If so that helps your initial cost, be sure to write a contract and enlist them to help with farm chores that is part of keeping a calf! (spread manure--free fertilizer!, fix fence--think curious george!, give vaccines, dehorn, trim hooves, etc) If they are not really interested in helping, then they need to pay you for the work you will do. Good luck!
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This book is intended as an inspirational manual for keeping a family milk cow. A lifetime of practical experience has been bound into one volume. Practical advice for the everyday and procedures for cow emergencies. Plus, answers to FAQ's like, 'Should you get a cow?' and 'How Much Space do I need?'